Wednesday 23 March 2016

Small gift works

More frequently in the past than nowadays, I would make small works of art as gifts for people -- close friends and family. Most of the time these gifts served the same purpose as my card-making does, i.e., to figure out something prior to a series of works or as a continuation, on a small scale of an idea that is current.

Recently my mother returned a small piece I had given to her in the 1980s as she was running out of storage space. I was doing a lot of work based on dreams and made several gifts in this series, where I painted on glass and painted on the reverse side so that the image would be visible in a mirror behind the glass. The glass and mirror components would be held together within a colourful box frame, like so:

My "Grey Box" find of last year revealed the plans for several of these works.

I am pretty positive the one given to my Mum & Dad was the first.

Here is a detail of the piece above, in which the reflected image of the boat and star are apparent.

I know I made several in this series but cannot remember who the recipients were! The following 3 plan drawings may or may not have been realised as small works -- I don't actually remember. I was planning to paint the frames blue (for water) but obviously changed my mind (at least with the piece that had belonged to my parents).

Also in the mid-late 80s I was doing a lot of symbolic figure drawing. I am sure I planned to frame this piece, but I don't think I had planned to have a mirror behind it.

I must have had a collection of glass panels, as I painted this figure on the same size glass as the mirror piece above. I scratched into the paint from the reverse side. 

Wednesday 16 March 2016

IMMA - Nick Miller & Edward Maguire Archive

 On Saturday I was at IMMA to have another look at a few of the shows there. There were three shows featured in the Garden Galleries, but I followed my daughter to the top floor to the Nick Miller & Edward Maguire Archive exhibition. There was jazz playing in the final room of the show (the sound had drawn my daughter to it), so we started at that and went backwards through the rooms.

While it's always great to see a painting show, as a painter I am always even more interested in the artist's tools, studio environment and method of working. So this final room was for me the best way to begin looking at Miller's reponse to Maguire's work.

There was even a key to the objects from the archive.

It was interesting to see the wizard costume hanging on the wall and later see it in a portrait. Theoretically one would see the painting first and then the costume, if one had followed the room chronology, but I think it works in either direction.

 Both Nick Miller and Edward Maguire are (and were, respectively) portrait painters -- Miller's work very expressionist and loose, and Maguire's almost hyper-real and controlled. In Edward Maguire's portrait of Paul Durcan (I think from the late 1970s) I could easily recognise the poet whom I had had the pleasure of hearing speak and read on several occasions in the 1980s.

I love Miller's portrait painting style. This is obviously a more recent portrait of Durcan; at least his aging wasn't a complete shock to me as I had already been made aware of the passage of time (with regard to someone else) when I saw Durcan more recently in a documentary about the Edward Maguire archive.

At IMMA, there was a display vitrine near Maguire's portrait of Anthony Cronin that contained the objects (ancient iron, pot & plate) that are included in the portrait. The exhibition was a joy -- seeing the studio artefacts in their own space, props displayed alongside paintings, jazz music (Bill Evans) permeating the space and the work of a completely different artist displayed in respectful response to Maguire's work.  I really enjoyed this exhibition of art and artefact.

Wednesday 9 March 2016

fresh ginger tea mix

As part of a collaboration project in my college course I somehow got appointed "hospitality manager" (among a number of other things). Last week people involved with Grizedale Artist Residency in the UK were at IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) and we hosted them in the Statecraft project spaces, letting them know about our project and giving them some mint-lemon-honey-ginger herbal tea as refreshment. It was a little bit hairy grating fresh ginger on site, so at the weekend I decided to do a bit of advance prep work for the hospitality station. I found out there is less wastage if ginger is peeled with a spoon!

I grated the ginger by machine. But the machine always leaves some end lumps when grating.

So I switched to the chopper blades and added a bit of honey.

This is a standard honey jar, almost half full with the ginger honey mix. I brought it in to class at IMMA and made some tea. Per cup I used about a third of a tsp, a little bit of lemon juice and a mint leaf. I didn't add extra honey, as I don't like things too sweet. The tea was just right!

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Collage Cards 2

I have been trying to process everything from the Grey Box find of last year, and make some sense of all the various items found in it. There were so many miscellaneous sketches and cards - the cards often acting like sketches. Sometimes the card came first - as in this abstract xmas card from 1982 (I think). For a series of individual cards I painstakingly attached tiny strips of gold tape and silver paper ovals (that for me were a development from my stem-less tulip paintings); the colour was added with wax crayon and burnished. I made about 30 of them of them I think, taking care of my xmas card list...

Continuing the theme from the xmas cards, I created small works in the following year on wood blocks that I had readily available (off cuts from various projects). As I gave a number of them away as gifts a few small pieces survive, along with this piece that I kept for myself. I did a couple of larger paintings on sheets of plywood while at university, but these are no longer in existence.

From 1983 (and for several years) I had many watery dreams of figures and dolphins and this imagery made its way into many drawings and paintings. Though undated, I think this oilstick drawing dates from 1983 or 1984 and is probably one of the earliest appearances of the gold tumbling figures in the water.
I had been on holiday in Ireland in 1987, visiting my parents, and became enamoured by watching individual rainclouds in the distance over the sea and images of these clouds made their way into my watery paintings, like this one "Meeting", oil on canvas.

In 1988 I used the image of the gold figure tumbling above the water as a design on a St. Patrick's Day card for my new boyfriend (now my husband). I found stripey paper to use as gold rain and I added the green stars as a reference to a line in William Carlos Williams poem "Our Stars Come from Ireland". 

As well as making an appearance with other elements in numerous paintings and drawings, the rainclouds also appeared in their own right on a birthday card for my Dad in 1989.

The rain became a little more menacing I guess in this postcard from 1989.

I moved to Ireland in 1988 and started work on a completely new body of work as I had left all my dream paintings in Toronto. This new work consisted of a large group of figurative drawings where I covered the paper in graphite and used an eraser to draw. Later works in this series got more colourful as I drew with large oilsticks. This body of work became my first solo show, at Temple Bar Galley & Studios, Dublin in 1989. 

In February 1989 I used the theme in a Valentine postcard sent to my boyfriend in Toronto.

I have always loved the stone walls and stonework ruins found everywhere in Ireland, totally different architecture than I had grown up with in Canada. I was back in Toronto when I sent this Mother's Day card to my Mum in Ireland in 1990.

At the time, although I was back in Canada, I started work on a series of paintings based on windows from ruins which were part of my life in Ireland. I exhibited a number of these paintings in a group show at Cedar Ridge Creative Centre in Scarborough in 1992. I brought the series with me to Ireland when I returned in 1993, completed more in the series and started a tour of the large group under the exhibition title "My Tower of Strength". The exhibition opened at Siamsa Tire arts centre in Tralee, Co. Kerry and its last stop was The Courthouse Arts Centre in Tinahely, Co. Wicklow in 1998 taking in a number of galleries in between. This painting, "The Holly & the Oak", is acrylic on canvas, 122 cm x 91.5 cm (4' x 3'), 1992 is in the collection of the Office of Public Works, Ireland. The window is structurally based on Raheenacluig - the church of the little bell - a ruin on the side of Bray Head, in the town where I live.