MY LANDSCAPES are GROUNDLESS……
They are an exploration of inner vision and illumination. I have chosen to live in the far West Coast of Ireland in a place of extreme beauty and weather . Over the years I have become familiar with its every detail , knowing the landscape not simply in its unchanging topography but also in its undying indifference and constant light change. ‘‘It takes a man a life time to get to know a field’’(Patrick Kavanagh) . The paintings are not however about romantic sentimentality .
My practice is about a repossession and a hint of paradise- an early influence was the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh who spoke of a beauty beyond beauty ‘‘A beauty that the world did not touch’’ – He wrote of the hill or the tree as not simply items on the horizon but sacred places linking heaven and earth.
I labour over my paintings sometimes for up to a year. They are hewn slowly into shape. The surfaces are sanded plaster on canvas or board. I begin with an image of landscape, building up texture, line and colour only to destroy it by repeatedly sanding and layering , eventually revealing what is concealed beneath- what is hidden in the dark. The lines cut into the plaster as they meet with resistance give a physical presence like in early cave painting. Through the existential practice of destruction of the surfaces they slowly reveal lonely tender and powerful places. The residual effect of sanding and cutting also make the material visually vunerable to the effects of time, weathering, discolouration and shrinking. The physical forces and deep structures that under lie our everyday world.
The use of copper wire or skibbled line indicates a visual boundary between the world of the viewer and the world within the painting. Spaces that have yet to be encountered, where the veils between heaven and earth are very close , like in Celtic mythology.
Mystics and philosophers have always written that light is a symbol of Gods manifestation. It is the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things not seen. Modern science supports that the very substance of the Cosmos from which the Universe has been made is from light energy. Taking us back to the first morning of the world.
Einstein felt that the most important function of Art and Science was to arouse and inspire mankind “ to transcend from the vanity of his desires and aims by observing and understanding the nobility and marvellous order in nature and the world of thought…to experience his existence as a union with the Cosmos, with significance and understanding.”
My landscapes are not about romantic sentimentality or about forging a sense of Irish identity through the repossession of identity through landscape. They are GROUNDLESS. They are about letting go of the gravity of landscape, pulling from the dark of the bog and the density of matter to transcend to the light.
William Blake said that ‘‘Painting, Music and Poetry are the three powers where man can converse with paradise’’
Artist’s Statement by Mary Donnelly 2013