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.

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