Each imperial dynasty, particularly in Roman history, sought to use various forms of representation to legitimize their authority. Using Parian porcelain, Burke emulates visual tropes from classical antiquity. Rather than enshrine the heroic or the powerful, Burke captures the darker side of revolution and conflict. Her portrait-sculptures are discomforting. The nameless faces of men and women are bruised and injured, never to be healed. Previous portrait-sculptures were loosely representational of a white western canon. However, during her residency at the Mattress Factory, Burke created a new body of porcelain busts in black, which seek to reference contemporary issues of representation, and the abuse of power relative to the Black Lives Matter campaign.
In this installation, Burke combines historical techniques with contemporary themes. Ursula Burke works in a variety of media including sculpture, photography, porcelain and embroidery, to create work that explores issues of representation and identity within contemporary Ireland. Burke cleverly uses delicate craft skills to depict and satirize disturbing societal tensions, partisan attitudes and political posturing. Her recent work makes subtle commentary on male power and identity politics beyond an Irish context.