3 weeks ago

Artistic License: Bridget Flannery

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The Irish artist’s new abstract paintings have an organic relationship with the sea, sky and land, and are inspired by daily walks along the coast in Co Waterford …

How do you define your abstracts – some have said they are landscapes, some seascapes or a combination?

Some years ago art critic Aidan Dunne described me as “a painter of nature” which I think is an accurate description in that the work aims to put a visual synthesis on what I see, hear, smell, experience and remember when being outside in the landscape: walking on strands or riverbanks. I often think about the words of philosopher Maurice Merlau Ponty who said ‘How would the painter express anything other than their encounter with the world?’

The present exhibition is called Shorelines – describe its significance …

The shoreline has been an ongoing fascination for me for a long time in that it is a place where two states meet – earth and water, land and water. The paintings come about from daily sketches and quick colour studies on my walks along the River Barrow and from long, ambling walks along the Co Waterford coastline, near Ardmore. So yes, they are rooted in places that are known and loved.

Where and how do you work?

I work a lot outside in the landscape, be it on the riverbank, in a ditch, or among coastal rock formations. When out I work quickly, capturing the structure and colour of what I’m looking at and what surrounds me through a mix of detailed and gestural drawings and colour studies, often using pigments made from the stones and vegetation around me. I also use my camera phone like a sketchbook capturing the surfaces and textures that catch my eye. Then it’s back into the workshop where the visual facts, memory, imagination work through materials, paint, paper, collage, pastel to make something that corresponds to what I have encountered outside.

How has your work evolved and who has influenced your style as an artist?

As a young artist I was very influenced by the structure and quietness of Agnes Martin’s and Ben Nicholson’s work while also desiring the exuberance of John Walker’s paintings. I still love their work as well as that of Barbara Rae, Charles Tyrell, David Quinn among others. I live in Carlow and have VISUAL gallery on my doorstep – its exhibitions constantly inspire and ask me to question how I create. Again, as a young artist I was very drawn to classical and traditional music which explored a sense of place, Sibelius was a huge influence on my early work. Now I find that it is contemporary art music, with its long lines and close tonal ranges which sits with how I work.

Need to Know: “Shorelines” By Bridget Flannery is at Solomon Fine Art, Balfe Street, Dublin 2 from October 2 – 24; www.solomonfineart.ie.

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