Artistic License: Ciara Gormley - The Gloss Magazine

Artistic License: Ciara Gormley

The Waterford-based artist’s new exhibition of flower portraits reflects her preference for prairie-style planting and more natural gardens …

‘Persicaria,’ by Ciara Gormley

Who or what sparked your initial interest in art?

I’ve always loved painting; I used to have a portable tin of watercolour paints and ink pens when I was a kid. I grew up in Greystones and did art classes outside school with Margaret Seaver, a great local artist who really encouraged me. I did a degree in History of Art and ended up working in film in the Art Department. I kept up painting in between films jobs, doing weekend or night classes. When I moved to Dungarvan, I went to the Crawford part-time for a year doing life drawing and then was lucky enough to get the opportunity to start showing work with Mary Lincoln from Ardmore Pottery and Joan Clancy Gallery in Ring. I have been very lucky to meet some great gallerists and curators, nearly all female actually! Martina O’Byrne from Artform, Emma Penruddock from I am of Ireland, Sarah and Alex from The Violet Hour, Ciara Hambly from Hambly & Hambly, and recently Sarah Collier who owns Silson Contemporary Gallery in Harrogate.

‘Hellebores, Early Morning’, by Ciara Gormley

How do you define your work and how has it evolved?

My work is figurative, it’s based on drawings from life, but I know a lot of people see it as quite abstract. I start off with drawings but then the colour relationships largely take over. I have developed a practice of painting outside from time spent in Ballinglen in Co Mayo. I will do quick oil sketches, usually looking at small corners of the landscape and then I compile these back in the studio into paintings. There is an immediacy to painting outside that preserves the first impression and this gives me the perfect notes for paintings. I try to paint the way light and colours are constantly shifting, to capture that life in the painting, the way different details catch your eye and also to give shape to the things that are felt and not necessarily seen.

‘Papaver,’ by Ciara Gormley 

How and where do you work?

I live in rural West Waterford, surrounded by trees and fields so there are plenty of locations to inspire. I work from a studio at home, which is separate from the house, so it’s great to have this space of my own. My studio is full of painting notes, sketches or colour swatches stuck all over the walls, art books and old sketchbooks, which are like reference books. I generally start off with sketches from the woods or outside; I might do a few smaller oil sketches on paper and then develop them into paintings on canvas in the studio.

‘Hellebores,’ by Ciara Gormley

What was the inspiration for your new exhibition “Flowers”?

This exhibition is part of the Waterford Festival of Food. I wanted to do a series of flower portraits in their natural environment rather than in a stiff, bouquet style. I have drawn them all from life and all of them were in my own garden. I prefer wilder, natural gardens with flowers mixed though grasses in a prairie-style reflected in the paintings. I am working on a meadow project at the moment, reintroducing wild flowers into a couple of acres of land and am preoccupied with these type of flowery swards at the moment.

Need to know: “Flowers” by Ciara Gormley is on at Cass & Co, Grattan Square, Dungarvan from Friday, April 19 to April 23;


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