Reconnecting with nature during daily walks inspired Irish artist David King’s latest exhibition, which was painted during the last lockdown …
Your location in Co Kildare has been central to your new exhibition, especially observing the light on your daily walks, can you explain the inspiration for “Out in the Sky”?
This is the first show that has had no inherent plan. It reflects the time-period perfectly. No one saw the pandemic coming or what may come out of this period. News coverage bombarded the senses, threatening to overwhelm, and eventually drove me out of doors for longer walks and what Allen Ginsberg termed “sit downs”.
The sites of daily walks took on a renewed sense of energy. This slow time was reminiscent of the Tom Sawyer years of childhood, just exploring, looking without judgment. Re-finding the childish joy of exploring without the adult sense of purpose brought about a new, vital energy and appreciation of the land around me. The way it translated to the works was equally fluid. I loved the fact I could enjoy these silent places again without any disruption or white noise – neither the hum of traffic nor that internal hum demanding a purpose.
I think we all felt that after a while. What is the rush? What is important? I loved hearing people talking about reconnecting, looking at nature again and finding inspiration around them.
We often feel isolated from nature nowadays and by extension from ourselves. Covid-19 reminded us how important nature is and how vital a role it plays in our mental and physical wellbeing. Inspiration is a state of mind easily marred by duty or blinkered by the everyday. Covid-19 shifted the lens and resharpened the focus. I have seen this happen to individuals before through age and sickness. This time it has been on a societal level. It is up to us all now to fully grasp what we have learned personally from this most unexpected experience.
How would you say your work has evolved – you have moved from seascapes to landscapes and have also created sculptures in the past?
Each project is its own unique journey. The projects are shaped by an inquiry or investigation into whatever subject I am exploring at that time. Over the years I have questioned the landscape we occupy in different ways – our shared cultural experiences, differences and even conflicts. “The Blood Bloods” series investigated the ideology of conflict. “Pleasant Places” became a close-up of Ireland’s shifting landscapes, from the digging in the earth to the walking-jacket pleasure seekers.
I grew up beside the sea and swam nearly all year round. I lost a friend to the sea and the seascape series of work was about letting go, loss, mortality and a coming of age. The sea, like the land, is a sublime space that resides deep inside the individual; it’s both memory and history.
You created much of your work during lockdown, which looks set to continue. Would you say it has been a more or a less creative time?
Challenging times are far more interesting, they shake things up. Apathy creates a very dull experience. Covid-19, as hard as it is economically for many, psychologically and physically for others, allows us to isolate the important and the essential. We have had time to reflect on our procedures and activities, both personally and culturally. Although I’m very lucky to have a great relationship with my children, Covid-19 added that extra layer of uniqueness, a time to connect in a deeper and more meaningful way. This adversity has been very creative, no surprise really. If you look through the history of art and culture, creativity is always driven by difficult and challenging times.
What are you working on currently?
I am still exploring the area around me; as the seasons shift and what was full is now bare, I can fully appreciate the ongoing possibilities.
Need to Know: David King’s exhibition “Out in the Sky” opens this Thursday, January 7 at Solomon Fine Art, Balfe Street, Dublin 2. Due to Covid-19 restrictions it can be viewed online: www.solomonfineart.ie.
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