Threshold: the exhibition of my biggest, brightest work to date in my own Home space (finally!) marks the beginning of so much newness for me.
This site specific exhibition was created to honour the house (built pre-1900) and all that has gone before and is yet to be. It is a giant celebration of this moment, a beginning in this building, the past and the future. Hosting the exhibition in this space is an intentional way to, ‘in the words of late poet and philosopher John O’Donohue, ‘Bless the space between us’.
Inspired by the beauty of his native Burren and Connemara, O’Donohue wrote wonderfully about the inner landscape and the human experience. I have been very influenced by John O’Donohue’s work. The title of this exhibition pays homage to his work on ‘Thresholds’ – a series of blessings he composed to honour significant moments in life.
Begin to Hope
‘Begin to Hope’ began at the edge of Covid – the right side (or so it felt at the time!). After years of ‘freeze’ and ‘stuck-ness’, change and a massive growth spurt is upon us. I am a fan of new beginnings, momentum and forward motion – and occasionally pulling the rug.
Begin to Hope’ brings together some constants in my work – the sea, the shoreline and the Mayo Lakes (with renewed invigoration following a lovely fishing trip with my Dad recently) and some new sensations around Summer and all the vitality that is inspiring me of late as I ‘Begin to Hope’.
I hope you love it!
God is in the Roses (and the thorns!)
This collection began life in Kerry in high Summer and was completed in Decembers baltic coldness in my city studio. It was inspired by time spent strolling (and speeding) through boreens brim-full of wildflowers to back streets burgeoning with fuzzy-wuzzy weeds.
The term ‘God’ is problematic (and inspirational!) for many of us. I prefer ‘Nature’ – I absolutely, completely and utterly believe in nature. Whatever the force or that alchemy of atoms that pushes roots forwards, upwards and out of the earth, to defy gravity and BLOOM. That same force that sends grass up through sidewalks and weeds up and out of walls. And the knowing-ness of plant life (at a cellular level) that seasons have passed and it is time to let go with grace. So this collection is about nature, about blooming – about holding on and letting go (as per!) and about seeing ‘God’ (or Nature – your choice) in everything, everywhere and in everyone – even in the toughest of times.
Pronounced: Kooo-Amm Trans: ‘To Me’
Made between Ciarraí and Cork during the quiet Covid period, Chugam is inspired by the sea and rolling waves – the balm, beauty and constancy of it all. ‘Chugam’ translates from Irish to English as ‘To Me’ – it feels like a mantra – an invocation – of mine. Willing yourself forwards, despite the elements.
It’s about standing on the shoreline, harnessing the power and energy of the sea, facing forward, in to a frightening (yet possibly fabulous!) future.
Lean Ar aghaidh! And always forwards
The Idea of an Island
Made in response to Spike Island, this collection was painted during the COVID period. Initially intended to be painted on the island, lockdown restrictions prevented access, necessiating this collection to be painted in isolation.
A former fortress, monastery and prison, Spike Island is steeped in history and atmosphere. This collection explores the idyll of an island – the wild places in our hearts and heads and notions of isolation, freedom, home, connectedness and redemption. It seems despite our longings for splendid isolation – no man is an island, after all.
The Sean Nós & The Sea
The Sean Nós – literally the old ways – are inextricably linked to the sea. Folklore, fiction and half-truths – all feed into our mythology – the spine that tells us who we are on this island, and beyond that out in the physical, fluich landscape.
In this work, I am trying to distil the essence of the old ways and the sea. I have spent much time now by the sea – studying it and finding in it’s essence my own, new way to paint.
The Outliers – A Prologue
The Outliers is the culmination of 10 years painting here in Ireland.
It is my first studio collection , that is – it is the first collection I have made from my studio rather than in response to a particular residency. That said, this collection is a reflection of 10 years of residencies and time out painting in Ireland, an amalgam of places I’ve painted – and a sort of hybrid of influences.
By definition, an outlier is ‘is an observation point that is distant from other observations’. I like to think of the outliers as an outcrop of mythical islands just beyond my imagination – a sort of painting odyssey – a destination I am propelling myself towards and constantly striving to capture
The Mayo Lakes
Mayo Lakes CollectionThis collection was created during a series of residencies on the shores of Lough Carra and Lough Mask (2011 – 2016). My family have been fishing these lakes for over 50 years. I grew up thinking of the lakes as a mythical and magical place – bountiful and beautiful. My own time on the lakes has only added to the allure.
The paintings have evolved to include an inner landscape, documenting feelings about place, memory, family, nature and the passage of time – all those things fluid, yet difficult to encapsulate – like water in our hands. It is my attempt to distil memories of generations of my family, to capture what Seamus Heaney termed ‘..the now of perception and the then of fulfilment
The Storm After The Calm
The Storm after the Calm charts my explorations in oil and cold wax.
Typically, I work in response to particular locations and / or residencies but this collection is more ‘home grown’ – more of what can be termed ‘the internal landscape’ .
Much of life, I think is – and can be termed – ‘holding on and letting go’. This collection focused on the latter. It’s about that time in life when you’re poodling along, thinking you’ve got the hang of it, when you kind of loose the map and need to re-calibrate. This doesn’t necessitate cause for concern, it is merely ‘process’ – finding a new way of mapping and.. painting. I am the better for it.
The Big Sky Collection
The Big Sky is a collection of paintings made while getting to know areas of North Mayo, Sligo and The Burren – parts of Ireland that I hadn’t previously explored. The paintings, I hope, document that fresh take on new, ancient places. It took a while to create an appropriate response to these places – some felt like taking big, deep breathes, others felt like deep exhalations. Many of them felt like whispers of a new looser language. Regardless they were all made with love and are full of feeling – new sensations.
When I first relocated to Ireland (following 15 years overseas), I found myself instinctively painting landscapes. I had been making conceptual art in London and it felt a bit ‘obvious’ to be making them so I went to the desert to take a good look at a different landscape.
These paintings were made in a tent in the Baja Desert – using only primary colours and found objects. They were a pure pleasure to make. It was a turning point in my work as it helped me to respond more directly to landscape and to think more expansively about the genre.
Ballads to the Bog – Kerry
Made in response to the prose and poetry of Michael Kirby during a residency at the Cill Rialaig Artists’ Retreat in Ballinskelligs (Kirby’s native place). The original purpose of the residency was to paint the sea but en route I passed a bog at Emloughmore and fell hard for it! And there I painted for the the entirety of my stay.
I love the colours and textures of our native bogs. I love too that they are a living, breathing thing – steeped in history and a natural source of abundance. I am enormously influenced by Michael Kirby. I truly believe him to have been one of our nations greatest ‘teachers’, ‘see-ers’ and indeed ‘do-ers’! So it was an honour to respond to his work.
Land of Plenty
Created in response to the economic downturn, this collection brings together some of my abstracted landscapes from Ireland. Land of Plenty is a celebration of the beauty and abundance of our land in spite of economic adversity. It was a great time of exploration and an opportunity to create bigger paintings.
This is the Sea
This is the Sea brought together a collection of my abstracted landscape paintings inspired by the Irish Coastline. I had been studying our island coastline, particularly areas along my native South East and the Cork – Kerry coastline since returning to live in Ireland in 2008. It was a great way to navigate myself back into Ireland and to feel ‘at home’ at home.