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

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