For the last few years I have been painting the Ilen River as she makes her journey from Skibbereen to the sea at Roaring Water Bay but for the purpose of this residency I am concentrating my research on the river within the urban setting of the town.
My work is process led, when I discover new places I am caught up in the curiosity of the moment, not questioning or over analysing. The taking of photographs is always my first response, then I write in my notebook, often my writing is about how I may be feeling or how a place makes me feel, what I can see, hear, sense. I might make a note on a colour, the weather or something that I noticed that is relevant to that spot, anything that relates to my time and experience of that location. Then it’s back to the studio where I make some monotone drawings/paintings of these new areas (see drawings below). I find this practice a great way of getting to really explore and know a place before I launch into making a painting. I often time myself when making these which keeps them loose and spontaneous.
My work is never about one place at one time, but about one place at many times. It often takes me quite a long time to finish a piece, I have to revisit that location at different times and in different weather in order to work out what it is that I’m trying to convey in the work. Yes I’m interested in beauty and painting an aesthetically pleasing artwork but very often there are more complexities within a piece. I very rarely put people in my work but the mark of human intervention is all over the landscape, that is what I find most interesting especially in my work right now. Skibbereen has recently had flood relief works finished on the river and its riparian environs, while I’m not setting out to make comment on that, I can’t help but notice changes in the river which may be as a result of those interventions.
I work from photographs, but there always comes a certain point in the making of the painting that I have to let the dialogue between myself and the paint and the painting have the louder voice. The photograph is a tool that I use and I never set out to make photo realistic work. A big benefit that I have found in being in a studio open to the public is that visitors are experiencing my work in the making and realise the multiple layers and loose mark making and even destruction that is involved in producing one of my paintings. I am in my studio at Uillinn Monday to Saturday and if the door is open you are welcome to come in.
|Work in progress of Ilen River’s gravel bank.
Acrylic on solid wood panel