Monday, May 20, 2013


Oil on Ply board 37 x27,5cm 2012

What are you working on in your studio right now?
At the moment I am working on stretching up some calico and experimenting with different surfaces. I’ve gone from using my usual primer on board which gives an ultra-smooth and relatively shiny surface to paint on, to homemade gesso, and I’m enjoying the transition from super-smooth “ice-skating” style to one that has more absorbency. I’m also working on the logistics of the upcoming Artist of the Day show at Flowers gallery in June so one wall is currently dedicated to works in progress and the other is visual experiments and the how-tos and maybe’s of putting things together.
Can you describe your working routine?

I’ve been lucky enough to have had a bit of time out in the last year which has meant more studio time and more time to reflect. I tend to be more of a late in late out person so I usually come in early afternoon and leave late at night. Generally I try and make time to meet other artists, visit friends’ and artist’s studios because I learn a lot from these visits and it’s a good way of keeping the thought chewing gum going, as well as batting ideas around.


Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?


My studio is nestled between London Bridge and Bermondsey and is semi open plan. There is a really nice sense of community, I think as a result to the space being open and being in close proximity to one’s neighbours. My studio is long and thin which is good for wall space. I am moving out soon though as I feel I’ve reached a point where I need to have a door for a while so it’s exciting times ahead. I am traveling this summer so it will be interesting for me to see how I will negotiate having a more “mobile” studio.

Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.

Drawing is a really important part of my process and I generally have quite a few primed pieces of paper stuck on the wall where I can either test out new colours or colour-combinations or possibilities for or within paintings, as well as keeping sketchbooks. I tend to make most of my supports and having a large supply of these is important for me to not get too precious. I am quite picky about these as well so I do spend time on making and priming my boards. Once these are made a sort of visual conversation starts between the drawings and the paintings. Some paintings are more immediate, some not and some get annotated on in my sketchbook.


What are you having the most trouble resolving?

At the moment I am heading into territories that feel less familiar in terms of changing the surface upon which I work and changing my primer so I am more in an experimental phase. The things that I am scratching my head over are more concerned with how things are shown generally and ways of showing drawings in particular and a work’s relationship to place or space, in the studio and outside of it. Otherwise generally speaking maybe layering, that is the big question that hovers, it’s that argument between something that is to the point first time round and that which is layers of paint, mistakes and perceived errors, a bit like an unruly cake.

Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?

I tend to focus on different things at particular times. At the moment I feel that there is a shift from a strong focus on colour and form to one that looks at surface more particularly. I saw a film a few months ago called “Blind Beast”. It’s about a blind sculptor who kidnaps a model because he thinks she has the perfect body and he wants to make the ultimate sculpture, a sort of ode to touch. It’s a strange film but it underlined for me the importance of touch particularly at a time when buttons are disappearing and how this is connected to how we learn and remember things.

Oil on Ply Board 18,5 x 23cm 2013

What does the future hold for this work?

The “Artist of the Day” show at Flowers Gallery in Cork St is on the 24th June. I’m looking forward to working with the space and seeing my work in a different setting. I always think it tends to set it free a bit. After that I am traveling so I have to consider ways in which to have work that travels well.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Firstly a big thank you for inviting me on Studio Critical. Secondly just to express how much I appreciate the joys of painting blogs and the online arts community. It’s a great place to share work and ideas and it’s nice to have painting chats with people who live in different parts of the world.

Oil on board 30 x 20cm 2012

Monday, May 13, 2013


'Retreating Glacier.' oil on canvas. 60 cm x 60cm.
Taylor Galleries, 2012
What are you working on in your studio right now?
I'm working on a couple of things: a commission for the New Science Centre at University College Dublin. I’m also working on an exciting collaboration with the international composer,  Susan Stenger and Professor of Geophysics at University College Dublin, Chris Bean on a series of paintings and soundworks synthesizing Monastic seismology practices devised by the Jesuits in Ireland since 400 AD. It represents a new and important evolution in my work and will tie together themes of volcanism through the unifying perspective of deep time. I’m also trying to put together a paper for the Art & Geography Ireland conference at NUI in Galway which I’m presenting later this month.

                 The Earth Institute, UCD, 2013. Works in Progress                 

 The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin. Work in progress. 2011
Can you describe your working routine?
I generally have 3 or 4 paintings on the go at the same time and aim to go to the studio every day. I’m Artist in Residence at the Earth Institute, UCD this year and I really love it. I try to attend some of the lectures in the Geo-science department so there’s never a dull moment.  Most days I end up randomly connecting with the researchers on campus and it’s invigorating to be part of a wider conversation in a place like this where so many disciplines converge.
Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?
I've moved quite a bit since 2011 but just settled into this new space. It's a supper building flooded with light and the ceilings are really high so I can view the pieces from all sorts of angles and rooms. The grounds are vastly covered with trees and green space, which is a calming contrast to my studio in the city last year.

The Earth Institute, UCD, 2013.
Left  'Measurement Valley.' Tree resin on graph paper.
Right Seismograph made by the Jesuits, early 1900's.
 Courtesy of The School of Cosmic Physics, DIAS, Dublin.
Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve.
I’m interested in Time, Rhythm, different temporalities of nature and new forms of materiality.  I’ve been using smoke lately as I feel we have an innate relationship with certain materials & it’s an intriguing material because it’s one of the first things prehistoric man encountered. The other reason I’m interested in smoke is because its part of an alchemical system produced by the process of one element transforming into another. Lately I’m starting with ideas around the speed and violence of earthquakes and the slow incremental movements of icebergs. While my drawings and sound works are more conceptually based I find painting is much more conducive to the new space. I tend to build up layers of paint at a time and once they dry, I scrape them off until I find a starting point to build upon. Quite often I end up with a blank canvas again exposing the stain or memory of the previous layer. While I may have a vision in mind of certain geological processes for example, I allow the work to shift and change as time evolves.
What are you having the most trouble resolving?

I guess I’m finding it challenging to find a way into some of the library of ideas I’m collecting right now.  I love that sometimes you can find a something as simple as a line or a gap in a tiny structure that can become the map for a new piece of work.  John Cage used the imperfections of the piece of paper he was working as a starting point.  I’m also trying to find a structure to suggest the transformational processes in nature and lately I’m looking at Morse code and the sounds under ice breaking to try and find a way in. And all the administration stuff involved in exhibition making and applying for residencies & funding drives me crazy! It’s so time consuming and tedious.



'Sound drawing' Drawing produced using drawing implements
attached to the tips of three branches and sound waves recorded on graph paper.
The Galway Arts Centre, 2012
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
I started off working almost exclusively in oil & sumi ink but, lately I have opened up my painting practice to embrace drawing, photography, sound and collaborative-based projects. Right now I’m making geological ‘pours’ with a glass blower in the physics department at UCD. And the plan for next month is to experiment with growing crystals in the geology department. I’m also experimenting with the production of a sequence of drawings which revisit my study of Jesuit seismology practices to evoke the patterns generated by the invisible forces of nature.

What does the future hold for this work?
In September I’m joining a team of scientists on an expedition to the Vatnajokull terrain of Iceland to bore into the earth and listen to its rhythm. I’m enjoying this experimental phase and my hope is that the new body of work will get a chance to travel to some interesting spaces around the world.  I’m also working on a book and hope to publish it in early spring 2014.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’m delighted to be on this blog and would like to say a big thanks for asking me.


The Dock 2012 and detail  15 x 4 cm approx.
Graph paper, Oil paint, Sumi Ink and Fire.
A series of paintings made with the process Eninka:
a technique devised by John Cage in the 1980's,
where fire becomes fossilized in the painting’s surface.


Thursday, May 9, 2013


Everything is as it should be,
mixed media on canvas,
What are you working on in your studio right now?

At the moment I am enjoying a large studio space to accommodate a huge series of works I have had on the go for over 2 years. The works are predominantly landscapes that incorporate my interest in recuperation and the "stitch". I bought a house in the depths of country Victoria last year to be able to get as close to the ever changing landscape as possible. It has had a powerful effect on my work and the processes so far. Since I work (sew) on my (dry) painting drop cloths I am able to fold them up and drive to any location and sew. I use various colours and cottons of a diverse texture to almost mimic the textures I see in the rolling hills etc. they have become almost 3 dimensional.
Can you describe your working routine?

I have a 5 year old little boy so my work routine has had to become quite scheduled, unlike the freedom of pre motherhood! I usually drop him at school then race home to do any chores etc/shopping...then head to studio to continue on with whatever i "feel" is needed.. i still love to paint so i have a body of traditional landscapes on the go too. My routine all depends on how I feeling towards any particular piece of work. There always a lot of works on the go. They all need their time to sit before i consider them finished. I can sometimes recycle old paintings that have been idle for years even.....I am always observing...everything is a picture these days....

Can you describe your studio space and how, if at all, that affects your work?

My studio is my garage. I converted the entire space for my work after the previous owner of the house didn't put the doors in the right position for any car access so I had a wall built right down the middle with a door for access into both areas, one side is predominantly storage and where I put works to be free of flying paint etc. The other is where the action love it in there. Since I can do my work anywhere, my "studio" is the place the pieces get resolved and put together I guess. I always feel that if the studio is organised to some extent the work can breathe, I get messy, so sometimes its good to work out in the landscape too, it gives the work a whole fresh perspective.


Tell me about your process, where things begin, how they evolve etc.

This way of working, with the fabric and materials of choice all began when I had trouble fully painting when Luka was born. I decided to use cotton and I have always loved drop cloths and the randomness of the splattered marks etc. After my honours year at RMIT I was very involved with the idea of process itself and the documentation of the processes as art in themselves, as time went on I really wanted to make large-scale works and use paint and get away from constantly photographing. I wanted to create "paintings" without relying on only paint etc. so by using the sewing as a platform to create my own mark…they are evolving as such...I never fully know how they will look as the cotton and the stitches all bring the work into their own and "become" themselves but lately I see the landscape so much as I drive and walk the works are hugely inspired by it.

Wild dog valley,
Mixed media mounted on canvas
183 x 160cm
What are you having the most trouble resolving?
My pure painting landscapes, predominantly the large ones, I feel using stitching helps me to slow everything down and I can see the picture clearer as a piece of work. I don’t see my paintings like I used to, eventually I will chop them in half with an elaborately stitched drop cloth, difficult to explain....I find they eventually resolve with lots of perseverance.
Do you experiment with different materials a lot or do you prefer to work within certain parameters?
I have always enjoyed "playing" with various materials. It’s important for the ideas to evolve. Even with my, what I call "traditional" landscapes I base them in oils, but there is always a variety of under painting which consists of pencils, pens, spray paint, crayons, anything to create a history and layers. I am experimenting right now with fabrics and placement, whether I am experimenting enough is always a question artists need to ask themselves.....

What does the future hold for this work?
I am not sure but what to would like to happen is that I get decent gallery appreciation for these enquiries but I see it becoming more sculptural....its a very exciting evolution of work indeed!


Cats don't speak like dogs do,
mixed media on canvas,
153 x 153cm