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Rugged west inspires Mayo artist

Living

Work by Pam Dolan on show at Museum of Country Life’s Courtyard Gallery 

Ciara Moynihan

An exhibition of work by Mayo artist Pam Dolan opened in the Courtyard Gallery, National Museum of Ireland – Country Life at Turlough Park, Castlebar, on August 19. Entitled ‘Land, Sea and Memory, Revisited’, it follows her earlier exhibition, ‘Land, Sea and Memory’, which was held in Ballinasloe last April.
Now living and working in Galway City, Pam Dolan was born and reared on Main Street, Crossmolina. One of the late Tommy and Eileen Hughes’ four daughters, she attended Gortnor Abbey secondary school, where her love of art was fostered by one mentor in particular. “I had a wonderful art teacher in Sr Fionnuala Keaveney,” Pam tells The Mayo News.
After graduating from GMIT in 1987, Pam was invited to exhibit in Australia as part of the country’s bicentennial celebrations, and she spent two years there exhibiting, working and travelling. On returning home to Ireland, she attended Limerick School of Art and Design, graduating joint top of her class in 1991. She then taught art and crafts at second level, working at the Presentation Secondary School Galway (now OLC) until taking a career break in June 2016. She has been painting full-time since, following her dream.
Pam works in both oil and acrylic. “I love both mediums and appreciate each for their unique characteristics and qualities,” she says. Her inspiration is drawn from familiar, realistic and remembered landscape, and she is particularly drawn to the rugged landscape of the west of Ireland and to our swamps, bogs and woodlands, and their unique terrain. “I try to capture the essence of a place and relay to the viewer using a visual language, the story of our unique landscape of which I am so proud,” she reveals.
The rugged western shore and the Wild Atlantic Way also inspire many of her pieces. Turbulent seas and their energy play a big part in the Turlough Park exhibition, and these paintings capture the power and force of nature that is the Atlantic Ocean.
The work reflects and deals with each of the elements of the exhibition’s title – land, sea and memory. While each of these these aspects is dealt with individually, they all come together to create a coherent viewer experience.
Pam’s artwork was chosen to be part of the ‘Made of Mayo’ exhibition for Mayo Day celebrations last year and again this year. Given that the 2019 ‘Made of Mayo’ exhibition was also at the Museum of Country Life, Pam is particularly delighted to be back, this time with a solo exhibition in her native county. “Mayo is a place that is close to my heart,” she says, “and it is is a great honour and privilege to be exhibiting here in my native county.”
Pam’s work has featured in shows at Kenny’s Art Gallery, Lahinch, and the RDS, and her solo show in Galway Town Hall was a huge success. Her paintings have not only been bought locally and throughout Ireland, they also feature in collections in the US, Canada and  Australia.
She is also fortunate enough to have a dedicated working space close to hand. “My studio is at my home, which I love. What a luxury to have a space that works. It is functional, has plenty of natural light and space, ample room to move about, explore ideas and work in. A space I feel inspired in. I am very lucky.”
Having an environment so conducive to creativity means that Pam has had the freedom to experiment and explore new approaches, helping her art to progress and evolve over the years. “My work is evolving all the time, from traditional landscape to scenes of uncharacteristic and sometimes brave colour and pattern,” she explains. “What is important to me as an artist is that my work is growing, developing and evolving. Constantly.”

‘Land, Sea and Memory, Revisited’, an exhibition of artwork by Pam Dolan, will run at National Museum of Ireland – Country Life’s Courtyard Gallery until October 20.