Artistic License: Ann Quinn - The Gloss Magazine

Artistic License: Ann Quinn

Ann Quinn’s new exhibition “North Calling” is inspired by two different places: her ancestral farm in East Donegal and the villages of Andenes and Bleik in Norway …

Where and how did you complete the works – in situ or afterwards from photos?

I made all the works in my studio where I grew up in rural east Donegal. There are 50 new paintings and they were made from late 2018 to mid-2021. I started working on the Norway paintings a year after I visited the country [Quinn was invited to spend time in Norway as part of a cultural exchange]. I need to be away from a place before I can paint it. At least a year has to pass before I can even look at my source material and photographs of a location I have gathered ideas from.

Can you tell me about this interesting link between your home and Norway?

The landscape I visited in Norway is quite similar to west Donegal, only more dramatic, leaving me with an intense sensation in the air that I was much further north. Both of these places have large dramatic skies, which have been a feature in my work for many years. East Donegal, where I grew up, is mostly arable farmland. Most of my paintings are set in winter as I prefer the colours and atmosphere of winter. Being in Norway brought me back to my childhood, when snow would fall in Donegal at some point every winter, whereas now it has become a rare sight. There is something clear and unifying about snow, the way it blankets the land and turns it into one white expanse. It make the world look stark and definite like saying yes or now.

Do you have plans to return to Norway – what did you most appreciate when you were on the exchange?

I would love to return to Norway. I think it was the light that I appreciate and remember the most, how that light changed the appearance of the houses in the evenings. I will never forget arriving late on the first evening – I was shocked to see cars entirely submerged in snow. It took me several days to get used to navigating this town engulfed in snow.

How has your work evolved, would you say?

I’m not aware of how my work is evolving, though elements seem to creep in of their own accord. After I graduated from NCAD in 2000 I was painting quiet, empty landscapes for a long time. From 2008 onwards tiny signs of human life started to appear – like telegram poles and chimneys. From 2012 animals appeared in my landscapes, then by 2016 humans started to arrive. The human figure was in the distance at the beginning then they gradually came closer until you could see their faces. This culminated in my solo exhibition “The Human Presence” at Taylor Galleries in 2018. Humans led me to houses. This exhibition “North Calling’” is all about houses. The farmhouse where I grew up in East Donegal, the big old Georgian house where I lived in Dublin for 20 years, Maud Lewis’ house and the houses I saw in Norway.

Have you any favourite images and if so, which one and why?

“At the Approaching Presence of Night” is a painting I had planned for several years. Since I was a child I heard bits of a story about how my father saw a hare run across the field up on Binnion Hill into the old graveyard. Years ago there were stories among the locals of sightings of the hare bleeding from its hind leg, and it transformed into an old lady with blood dripping from her ankle before it reached the graveyard. I have been spending a lot of time walking on Binnion Hill since I moved back home in 2016 and the image of the hare started forming in my imagination.

Need to Know: “North Calling” by Ann Quinn opens at Taylor Galleries, 16 Kildare Street, Dublin 2 on Thursday September 23 until October 16; www.taylorgalleries.ie.

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