Artist Statement 2014
In these times I find it necessary to build a safe sanctuary. My paintings have always been about this, the mountains giving protection from the dangers of the outside World. The stormy clouds and seas reflecting the turmoil of life. Men in their boats, rowing to safety, often in very dangerous conditions. People have said to me that some of my seas are very stormy and would people actually be out in them? I need to feel safe, a place to hide. I rarely watch the news, as it usually depresses me. At time of writing this there is a lot about World War One, in twenty years it will all be about World War Two, then it will be about the Vietnam War, the Middle conflict, Gaza. When does the killing stop? So I seek sanctuary in little farmhouses tucked away in deep valleys, where I feel safe and protected from it all
My paintings come straight out of my mind onto the canvas, I need to feel that energy pouring out of me through my veins down through my brushes to come alive on the canvas. I have never liked pretty scenes, neither as a painter or as a photographer. It has to be dramatic, punchy, all in the moment. Many people tell me my work is too dark, that it would sell better if it was brighter like they have this wonderful advice they need to share with me as if I hadn't already thought of it. I paint dark moody scenes because I feel that is what I need to do!
I produced some greeting cards of my oil paintings for 2014, and was pleased to see they sold quite well. I lightened up a bit for them, which was ok as a test but now I have gone back to painting moody dark scenes with more atmosphere
I live beside the sea, live and breathe it. The moods, sunlight breaking through for a fleeting moment. I rarely think about what I am going to paint before I approach a canvas. All my favourite paintings are spur of the moment happenings that develop on ther canvas as I paint. I need this freedom to fully express myself. I never go out into the field and set myself up to paint a specific scene, everything I do is from memory which enables me total movement in any direction the painting decides to take me and then they become my own work
My childhood was largely spent here in West Cork during the Sixties. I absorbed the life and images became embedded in my mind. People like the sadly missed Dan Murphy, the harbour master, who cared for the boats. Each Winter he would tar my mother's boat to protect it against the elements. I well remember listening to him. One of the things he was once heard to say to the local fishermen was 'go after the fish before they die of old age'. Dan smoked a pipe and often soon after puffing it a few times he would tuck it away under the peak of his cap. I suppose as a child I wondered if his hair would ever catch fire!
Through my paintings I want you to absorb my love for the slow time that Ireland is famous for, when people stopped to chat. There was always the smell of turf burning in the villages, that gorgeous aroma that made you know you were home. Listen to tales to pass away the long Winter nights before television took over. A time when there was never any hurry to get anywhere.
When men rowed their boats out to sea, with sticks inserted in the boat sides before rowlocks came into being. Catching mackerel on a line of coloured feathers, risking all to go after the wild salmon in the moonlight. Cutting the turf, sadly now a rare sight. When a horse and cart was frequently used, to take the churn to the creamery stand at dawn, bring home the turf and hay which was always heaped on the cart, secured with a sack and ropes. Even the villages are becoming victims, as holiday home housing estates are being built in them or on their outskirts. I am just so glad I saw Ireland before all this modernisation took over and can recall it here in my oils.
Lanes, paths and streams feature strongly in my paintings for they take you in to the worlds I want you to see. Up to the traditional farmhouses tucked away in the valleys, sheltered from the storms and outside world
I hope you enjoy visiting my view of Ireland