The Dublin-based artist and printmaker’s work combines the simplicity and decorative detail of Asian art with the boldness of botanical drawings …
The main influences on my work are botanical art and the art of Japan and the Islamic world. They all share a certain formality, balance, elegance and a respect and connection with the natural world. I have always had a love of pattern, finding the rhythm and repetition soothing. The use of gold leaf, as seen in Japanese folding screens or paintings of the early Renaissance, is a distinguishing feature of my work. The radiance of the gold leaf helps me to create works which communicate a sense of tranquility to the spectator.
I make my work at Graphic Studio Dublin, a large printmaking studio in the north of the city, though my first encounter with printmaking was in Amsterdam where I attended classes on a houseboat moored on the river Amstel. I was immediately attracted to the etching process. This involves making drawings on copper plates which have been coated with an acid-resistant wax ground, immersing the plates in nitric acid, thereby etching a permanent image onto the plate where the copper has been exposed. The final stage is printing the image by inking it up and rolling the plate through a printing press which would not look out of place in a medieval printing house. It’s all handmade with no digital input!
My time in Amsterdam was, in retrospect, formative. The interest in interior design and plants, often used sculpturally in houses and spilling out onto pavements in the absence of private outdoor spaces, really caused me to look at these elements in a different context. The connection with the East – through the Dutch East India company – filtered through to the city bringing many exotic elements into the houses of merchants, and of course the famous blue and white ceramics modelled on those being produced in China was something the Dutch made their own.
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