Interview with the artist 

As a contemporary artist, working in the landscape genre but not exclusively so, I really enjoy collaborative opportunities with other visual artists but perhaps even more so with writers, poets and musicians. I am fascinated that the work prompts responses from other disciplines and that a whole new avenue opens up- almost in the form of a call and response. The work is often referred to as a form of visual poetry and it is something I think about when making the work. I am inspired and make the connection with the writing of James Joyce and WB Yeats. The watercolour ‘Snow falling gently ‘ painted in Ireland  references.’ Dubliners’  by Joyce and the line 

 ‘....and faintly falling , like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

  I enjoy the theory running through the tradition and history of landscape painting . I sometimes provide a written context to the work if I feel it supports or deepens the experience of looking. A recent comment I received was that ‘I don’t know what moves me more, your painting or your words’ & this reinforces the idea that the visual and written language can connect in a forceful and emotionally charged way. That the viewer finds both the visuals and the words moving is very important to me. To be able to make that connection is rewarding and speaks of the shared human experience.

There is also a palpable silence, quietness or stillness in some of the work which viewers respond to very positively and there is an element of mindfulness in some of this. An early fascination with the work of Mark Rothko possibly explains how this has filtered through to the work. The work is very felt, if you understand me,° in that it comes from within as much as being concerned with external appearances of things. That art can touch the senses is deeply moving & significant to a good & lived life.

 Do you feel pressure to comply?

I may have done early on in my career and there was a time when I thought the work was too dependent on having a certain art seriousness attached to it and needed to be resolutely abstract in its language and there was an element of elitism to this. in that I was concerned how it would be received by the art world, critics and my peers. At this stage in my career it doesn’t concern me though through my academic work I am aware of current trends and engage with them but they do not necessarily influence me as an artist. I made the decision to paint what I found moving about my experience of the world and hope that others would connect with that thought of joy or apprehension.

 

 

 

I find research, for me, is about working directly in the environment ‘en plein air’ if you like and that it is important to hear the sounds and to feel the sun, wind, rain or snow. To paint with hands cold is a reality that gives some of these images an emotional immediacy. I like to find out as much as I can about the landscape, it’s past and present, myths and legends and this helps deepen the experience of place. Many of the paintings are of Ireland and link strongly to my Irish heritage, my surname probably gives this a way. I am keen not to be a visual tourist and avoid decorative touches of bobbing boats and flighty seagulls as much as I can unless they add to the expressiveness and immersion of the painting. In terms of painting I am always trying to find exciting, compelling and moving ways of making marks and finding visually inventive equivalents for things seen


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