Archive for the ‘Cill Rialaig Residency’ Category

RWA Autumn Show, Gerhard Richter and the Degas

October 30, 2011

My drawing Soundscape IV won the Excellence in Drawing Prize at the Royal West of England Academy Autumn Show yesterday which was a very nice surprise.  The exhibition of 508 works, selected from a submission of over 2000, is on at the RWA in Bristol until December 31st.  There seemed to be  more abstract work this year and the hanging of the works seemed more thoughtful. I also heard this week that I have been offered another residency at The Cill Rialaig Project in Kerry for next May so I will be going back to somewhere I really love.

I spent last week in London and managed to get to both the Gerhard Richter at Tate Modern and the Degas at the Royal Academy.  I enjoyed both but definitely want to go back and spend more time at the Richter.  I also want to look again at Tacita Dean’s work Film, the new Unilever series work in the Turbine Hall, without small and tall children running around and waving their arms in front of it to make shadows.  I had forgotten it was half term!

I queued in the rain for forty minutes to see the Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement but the security staff came out with huge RA umbrellas for those people who hadn’t though to bring their own.  Nice touch!  It was wonderful to see some of the paintings of dancers which I had only ever seen in reproduction.  In one room the centrepiece was his renowned Little Dancer aged 14 circled by all the preparatory drawings he did for it, hung at the appropriate position from which he would have drawn  them as he  moved around the model making observations.  A lot was made of Degas’ connection with and use of photography and the moving image with a whole room of Muybridge films some of which I suspect were shown at the recent show at Tate Britain.  However some of the early films of dancers were mesmerising.

Degas Little Dancer aged 14 years

I had been to the Richter the day before and when I first walked in took my glasses off twice to clean them before remembering how destabilising his paintings are!!  But I loved the show, works I hadn’t seen before including a lot of his gray paintings.  The Cage series I had seen before but it was good to revisit them.


A new direction , maybe – and Johns Cage and Berger

July 13, 2011


Post New York I have been looking at a lot of Art. Exhibitions and books. I have been picking through Every Day is a Good Day:  The Visual Art of John Cage,  the catalogue for the Hayward traveling exhibition which is sadly not traveling anywhere near me.  And today whilst working on No. 33  of my RN Drawings I have been listening to Cage’s pieces for Violin and Piano. I also bought  Bento’s Sketchbook, John Berger’s imagined drawings of what might have been in the lost sketchbook of the 17th century philosopher Benedict de Spinosa.  Promises to be utterly fascinating.  Working on another new drawing, large, already time-consuming and complex, based on a sketchbook drawing made from the top of Bolus Head in the Ballinskelligs in Ireland, I needed to revisit Kathy Prenderghast’s work.  So I dipped into The End and the Beginning, which has quite a few of her love city mapping drawings in it, though they are so delicate they are difficult to photograph and consequently difficult to see in reproduction. So a productive day in the studio, at last, lots of reading and I’m off to London at the weekend to engage with the Tracey Emin at the Hayward so watch this space!

My most recent exhibition roundup is on isendyouthis art-diary, link in the side bar.

The unstable horizon from a small boat in wild seas

December 6, 2010


During my two residencies in Ireland this year I worked extensively in sketchbooks.  In Ballycastle my house faced the sea, nothing between me and Greenland, and every morning I drew the rapidly changing horizon, the light, the weather, and the mountains of Donegal appearing and disappearing like ghosts. At The Cill Rialaig Project on the Kerry coast  there was nothing between the wild rocks and America apart from the Skelligs, inhabited in the fourth century by a group of monks. For them their location was the edge of the known world. I went out to the Skelligs in wild March seas in a ferociously bronco-bucking, little fishing boat and once there, climbed to the top. Two of the scariest things I have ever done! The sketchbooks full of horizon drawings, the drawings from the cliffs in the Ballinskelligs, the memory of my trip to the Skelligs and getting to know the local people in Co. Mayo has translated itself into a body of work concerned with Unstable Horizons. They reference the physicality and history of the land and my experience of it as well as the uncertainty of the economic and political situation in Ireland, which is also part of my family history.  These small paintings are the beginning of a determined exploration of these ideas and I am already working on two larger canvases.

Ariadne’s Dream – a new painting

July 19, 2010

Just finished this, the first of my new work out of the Sea Change drawings which were started during my residency at Cill Rialaig in March 2010.  Oil on canvas 75 x 100 cms

Details of the painting below.

St Finans Bay – light and mist

April 7, 2010

I am beginning to realise that all this tonal drawing is because of the incredibly dramatic light and the swiftness with which the conditions move from bright sunlight to haze to deep haunting mist.

Sketchbook Studies from Bolus Head and Inny Strand

April 6, 2010

On a gloriously sunny day I climbed to the top of Bolus Head.  It was so clear I could see all the way to the Blasket Islands and the Skelligs were defiantly standing guard over the Peninsular.  It took nearly two hours to get up there and included climbing over gates, barbed wire fences and stone walls despite the fact that it is a signposted walk.  But the view was amazing, again, and I sat there for most of the day drawing having, on this occasion, gone well-prepared with smoked salmon soda bread sandwiches, grapes and a bottle of water.  Bliss.   The following day I went back to Inny Strand which I had been promising to do ever since I arrived.  Miles and miles of empty sand stretching away towards a gently rippling sea and the hills, hazy in the distance.

Boolakeel Beach

April 2, 2010

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I found Boolakeel Beach, a secluded quiet private place accessed down a long track.  For company I had Pharoah a springer spaniel and Alex an English Setter who decided to come for a walk with me and charged down the path constantly running back to see if I was following and then running in and out of the waves the whole time I was down there drawing.  They came back with me too and were clearly going to accompany me back to Cill Rialaig.  Fortunately their owner emerged from a gateway and I was able to return them both before I was seen to be kidnapping them.

More drawings of Kerry hills

March 25, 2010

More tonal drawings and less line.

Drawing the landscape and the sea

March 22, 2010

I felt a sudden need to actually make seriously observed drawings of the landscape rather than very quick line drawings.  These are quite big and I am not sure where they are going but I am enjoying them.

Cill Rialaig about to be revisited

March 9, 2010

About to leave for another residency at Cill Rialaig.  I am gathering things together to take.  Lots of books, camera, sketchbooks, charcoal, paper, pencils, canvases and paint.  The most recent painting which I finished about the last residency is below.  It will be interesting to see where this one takes me.

Alternative Topographies

Oil charcoal and graphite on canvas  30 x 30 cms