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.


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