Artistic License: Maggie Morrisson - The Gloss Magazine

Artistic License: Maggie Morrisson

Influenced by the gardens of her childhood, tropical greenhouses and her own garden in Co Mayo, Maggie Morrisson’s new exhibition reflects her curiosity and appreciation of plants and nature …

How and where do you work?

I live and work in the village of Dooagh on Achill Island. My studio is a Nissan hut – large, draughty and cold. It was transported from Finner Camp, Donegal, in the 1930s when the house was St Coleman’s Knitting Industries. This was originally set up by Emily Waddell and Eva O’Flaherty circa 1914, to provide employment for local women and girls, as an alternative to going to Scotland for “tattie hoaking”.

When I first came here there was no garden of any kind, just one wind-rattled bush. I have struggled and succeeded, to some degree, to grow a garden as I am just 300 metres from the south-facing Atlantic coast. Having a garden is essential for me and my work.

How do you define your work; what medium do you most like to use?

I have recently started using acrylics and inks to begin works on large canvases, paper or wood panel. I then progress to oils for slower, more in-depth and considered painting. My paintings start without any real clear idea of where they are going to go. The colours, marks and shapes made by the first layers suggest the next move. The paintings comprise nature-based garden imagery, informed by plants, growth, nature and surrounding landscape, human nature, light, temperature, weather – the very fact of being and all that that involves.

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

Inspiration comes from simply living and day-to-day experiences. A trip to the greenhouses in the botanical gardens in Amsterdam many years ago planted seeds in my mind. It was January, very cold outside, while inside the greenhouse it was lush, verdant and 30ºC!

A few hours in the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin in January 2020 also inspired some of these works, in particular because of what followed (Covid). Inspiration also came from trying to create a garden on the Atlantic coast, trying to grow trees with limited success to create my own miniature lush landscape. Gardening is not something I originally loved, it can be hard and dispiriting, especially when surveying the damage after one of the many Atlantic storms, yet it can be truly wondrous to watch nature continue, survive and thrive.

Do you have any favourite art works?

As a child aged seven or eight, the eldest of five children, we were taken to the National Gallery a couple of times a year. I remember being captivated by Walter Osbourne, in particular his works “In a Dublin Park” and “Summertime”. I was enthralled by the sunlight and greens. I had no other exposure to art in secondary school. It wasn’t until I attended Ballyfermot Senior College that I started painting. Artists I have been inspired by include Gillian Ayres, Barbara Rae, Claire Basler, Elizabeth Condon, Howard Hodgkin, Bert Irvine as well as the landscape paintings of David Hockney, Vincent Van Gogh and many, many more.

Need to Know: Maggie Morrisson’s exhibition “Apricity” is at Solomon Fine Art, Balfe Street, Dublin 2 until Saturday July 20.


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