Art Source opens this weekend and offers visitors the opportunity to purchase a one-off affordable, original artwork and also the opportunity to meet the artists and hear about their work. One of the participants this year is artist Louise Cherry who tells us more about her practice …
When and how did you get into art?
I took a rather circuitous route to painting. I had a past life in the pharmaceutical industry but in my late 20s, with a burning need to do something more creative, I began a degree in photography. My father had been an architect and also painted so I grew up in an artistic environment.
For years, my art practice was contemporary photography but in my early 40s I made another huge volte-face, and began painting. I went through a dramatic couple of years, juggling motherhood, lecturing and my art practice. I completed an MA in Visual Arts, suffered two miscarriages, nearly died from a serious pneumonia and when my father died just before the birth of my second child, I knew I needed a change, I felt a need to be close to him. So I taught myself how to paint – it’s been quite a journey!
How do you describe your work and has it evolved over time?
My work has evolved hugely over time as obviously I have moved from photography to painting. However the basis of my practice has always been about process, regardless of the medium used. I have never been about producing a “pretty” image, I have always tried to create images that differ from the norm. I don’t only want to visually please my viewer, I want to challenge them. I strongly believe that if a painting is purely visual but doesn’t challenge then it is stagnant.
I feel a sense of excitement and fear everyday as I strive to create that intrigue for my viewer. Working instinctively, I allow the process to guide the development of my canvas; I like to discover a visual by accident, and coming to a point where I can look at the canvas and say, “that’s it, I’m getting there, I’m on to something”. The frustration, excitement, fear and challenge in this process are integral to each of my paintings.
It can be a beautiful and sometimes brutal process, the construction of each painting develops using destructive techniques and surfaces reassemble layer-by-layer over a period of months. My process is very physical and my studio is an energetic space.
Where do you work and how?
I live and work in an old coastguard station in Wicklow Town: my studio is in the original lookout tower and has panoramic views of the Irish Sea. When I’m painting I need to be alone, to be present with my work and process. I like to lose myself in that solitary existence, I work best in the early mornings, often between 4am and 7am, when it’s quiet, nobody can disturb me and I feel alert and at peace at the same time.
This September, I spent two weeks in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Monaghan and it was the most incredible experience; to be able to focus 24/7 on my practice and not have to worry about any of the usual life demands! It was also lovely to be surrounded by other artists, composers and writers. I found stimulating conversations helped the creative process.
Tell me about your “Subversion” series, which will be at Art Source.
I am really excited about my new collection “Subversion”. It is my first collection of oil paintings – I have spent the last two years trying to understand oil and all its beautiful capabilities. In these paintings I am deliberately de-constructing the visual to intrigue, to challenge and to entice the viewer to look closer and examine.
During the exploration process for this series, I began to realise that in reality I was attempting a form of subversion – attempting to overthrow visual norms, subvert the viewer’s expectations so that each time they approach the painting they see something they had not seen the time before.
I feel the images have a unique quality; the depth of the paintings created by layer upon layer of paint and deconstructed layers combined with the striking colours, make them a feast for the eye and imagination. They are a bit different and they require the braver more inquisitive viewer, but that alone makes me happy, it makes me feel like I have achieved my goal!
Is there any particular artwork with a significant story or anecdote you could relate?
I am also showcasing my “Sea Sanity” series at Art Source this week. Sea Sanity I [pictured above] is a particularly important and special piece for me personally. When the country was just about to emerge from the most recent lockdown in April 2021, I had a rather nasty fall walking my dog on the cliffs near where I live and I broke my leg in three places. What followed was a saga of coastguard rescue, ambulance, hospital, surgery and three months in a cast with bed rest.
When I began to be a bit more mobile, sea swimming and sea walking was part of my prescribed physiotherapy. As a result since June, I have spent hours in the water, walking up and down chest deep in the waves. It is incredibly therapeutic – the sea, the cold, the water, the texture of sand, the cliffs and wildlife around me – I became addicted to the routine of walking in the waves everyday. I had plenty of time to think and create paintings in my head while I walked and swam. The sea became my close friend and supported me, literally and metaphorically, through my early recovery period. In these paintings I want people to feel what I experience while in the sea … to feel as through they are also diving in, to feel fresh, happy and free.
Need to Know: Meet Louise Cherry and view her artworks at Stand J31, Art Source 2021, which takes place in RDS from November 12 – 14. Admission is €10 adults, €8 OAPs. Children under 16 go free if accompanied by a parent or guardian. Opening times: Friday, November 12: 11am-9pm, Saturday, November 13 and Sunday, November 14: 10am-6pm. For more information visit www.artsource.ie and www.louisecherry.com.
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