Wednesday 26 April 2023

Patricia Hurl at IMMA

Recently I went to the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) to see several exhibitions that were on, but most specifically to see the Patricia Hurl retrospective Irish Gothic. It was a gorgeous day, and the museum was especially welcoming with all the flowers happily in bloom, both on the grounds and in pots surrounding the parking lot.

The night before, I had prepared myself for the exhibition by listening to a conversation between Hurl and fellow Na Cailleacha member, Catherine Marshall (who was formerly a curator at IMMA). The conversation is available at IMMA's SoundCloud page here and is both a witty and insightful hour of chat.

Of course, photos of paintings do not show the urgency of the painting itself, but I was also delighted to see images from Hurl's life and memories, concepts which are close to my own practice.

Each painting had a personal didactic, in which Hurl disussed the work's content in such a way that the audience stepped into the memory and the very essence of the painting. I totally enjoyed reading the didactics as companions to the paintings and Hurl's voice was fresh in my head from listening to the conversation the night before.

As well as the large paintings from the 1980s, there was a plethora of sketchbooks and ephemera on display, along with more current works which were more intimate but nonetheless vital (such as the ageing self-portraits and the Warrior series). I had also seen some of Hurl's current 3D work, with the collective Na Callieacha, last year at a group show Bones in the Attic at the Hugh Lane Dublin Municipal Gallery. I blogged about that show here.

It was wonderful to see Hurl’s work collected together, and most especially great l to re-meet Trick or Treat, a painting that I had first seen at the GPA exhibition in either 1988 or 1989. 

Wednesday 19 April 2023

"Lost" series continues

I have been happily working away on the Lost series of monoprints, a new body of work which I first spoke about in detail here. In addition to being happy with my work, I was delighted to receive the recent news that an image of my "breakthrough" print (the rainy bus image included in that first blog about the series) has been chosen to be included in the spring issue of the US literary journal out of University of Pennsylvania, The Penn Review. In the meantime, here are some more images from Lost.

The kids could play at anything in the back yard, monoprint, ink on Japanese mulberry paper, 12.5 cm x 18.5 cm.

When I was going through the rooftop archives, it was interesting to see that I had attempted, in the late 1990s, to use the gate in front of the house where I lived in Kerry as an artistic motif. I don't think my use of it was successful at that time but it is an image I have come back to. (Look here to see some of the image of the gate from the rooftop archive.)

The gate in front of the house led to a huge field, monoprint, ink on Japanese mulberry paper, 18.5 cm x 12.5 cm. 

Of course, I have used this image before in more recent work - most notably the small linoprints on silk fibre sheets that I made for Memory Is My Homeland (a search of this blog using that title will bring about works in progress as well as a virtual tour of the exhibition at Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin, in 2022).

Field Gate, Knockeen, image size: approx 6 cm x 7.5 cm, sheet size: approx 20 cm x 26 cm, 

It really is just a blink of the eye, monoprint, ink on Japanese mulberry paper, 12.5 cm x 18.5 cm. 

The friends of 1975: where are they now?, monoprint, ink on Japanese mulberry paper, 12.5 cm x 18.5 cm. 

Wednesday 12 April 2023

Rooftop archive 11 late 1990s

For previous posts from the so-called "rooftop archive" look at the most recent here, which gives links to all the others.

In the late 1990s there was a major fire at a printing company near to where one of my sisters lived. She told me that there was a big skip outside the establishment and reams of paper were being thrown into it. My husband (also an artist) and I drove over to check things out and came away with an abundance of grey heavy stock card, 88 cm x 50 cm, and large sheets of all-purpose cardboard. Because of this supply windfall, I felt very free to sketch on a large scale. In 1998 I had an exhibition planned for the following year, but was still unsure of what a new body of work would look like. I was fondly remembering my time living in rural Kerry, which had come to an end in the fall of 1996. One of the most amazing memories of this rural time was my sighting of Comet Hyakutake from the field in front of my house, Knockeen. On a clear night the stars in Kerry were magnificent. 

I must apolise for the sheen on these drawing/paintings, I was using gloss medium to thin the acrylic. I gessoed the grey card first and worked in thin layers of colour to build up a certain (unphotographable!) luminosity. In front of the house, there was a gate leading to a large field beyond and it was from this field that I viewed the comet above the outbuilding ruins beside my house.

I thought the gate itself was an important image and began combining it with other familiar imagery from my work. The figure here was the outline of a life size cut out I had made of my body using the all-purpose cardboard.

Again, this is an example of how I was combining past imagery with the image of the gate (which for me echoed the trellis that had appeared in earlier paintings and drawings).

Once I had started using flowers in my work, however, there was no stopping me. Grounding the heavy card with gesso, I decided to do some drawing with oilstick and graphite -- a combination that I still enjoy. I realised how much I like drawing and painting flowers and decided that this would be the subject of my next exhibition. I suspect that due to the size of this piece I could not afford the framing so it did not make it into Blessings, which showed first at Signal Arts Centre, Bray, in 1999 and then Cavan County Museum, Ballyjamesduff, in 2000.

The exhibition Blessings consisted of large acrylic paintings on canvas, medium sized oilstick & graphite drawings on paper and very small monoprints of both wild and cultivated flowers. This is an oilstick & graphite drawing from that exhibition. “Honeysuckle”, 43 cm x 37 cm, 1999, is framed and hanging on the wall in my bedroom.

Wednesday 5 April 2023

Rooftop archive 10 - mid 1990s

I showed some of the drawings from 1992 that began my obsession with windows and the stonework ruins in the rooftop archive post, here. In that post I also give links to previous rooftop archive posts. When I moved to Ireland in 1993 I brought with me a series of large paintings that I had completed in Toronto the previous year and had full intention of creating more in this series. This series became the exhibition My Tower of Strength and toured arts centres throughout the island of Ireland 1994-1998.   

Early in 1994 I relocated to rural Kerry where I was reunited with my favourite castle ruin, ie, Ballycarbery Castle near Cahersiveen.

I was offered an exhibition at St John's Art Centre in Listowel first and thought it was the perfect place to display My Tower of Strength (a former church, open stonework walls) but I wanted more paintings in the exhibition and got to work on these window drawings, which were studies for the Ballycarbery paintings. 

There were five Ballycarbery paintings altogether, but I'm not sure which of these six drawings did not make it into my final decision plans for what I would paint! It may have been this one, but I'm not sure...

The Ballycarbery paintings, which were the brightest (predominantly yellows, greens and pinks) works in the series and all completed in early 1994 before the touring exhibition began. Although St John's  was the first to offer me a show, the touring began in Siamsa Tire, Tralee, who also wanted the exhibition at a slightly earlier date.

Ballycarbery Castle had a great many intact windows to choose from and I enjoyed drawing them. 

All of these sketches are acrylic on paper and 76 cm x 56 cm.

When I moved to rural Kerry, I thought the phenomenon of drying peat hanging out of ruined outbuilding windows was most interesting. Surprisingly, I never took this concept further than sketches and photographs, especially as I moved to a house near Portmagee in 1995 and my husband stacked peat in ruined windows of our own abandoned outbuildings! As with previous window ruin drawings, this is acrylic on paper, 76 cm x 56 cm.