‘My Father in the Milking Parlour’, by Ann Quinn.
An exhibition of paintings by renowned Donegal artist Ann Quinn is finishing up in the Custom House Gallery, The Quay, Westport, this Sunday, August 25. While each of the artworks is based on a specific place that the artist has spent time in, Quinn’s paintings are more about atmosphere than place.
While Quinn has undertaken artist residencies in everywhere from Spain to the US, Achill to Norway, she says that her first ‘real artist residency’ was the farmhouse in east Donegal where she grew up. “That residency for me is eternal because it includes the atmospheres of my parents and my brothers and sisters, combined with the mythical, stunning landscape that surrounded the farm,” she explains.
Like many children, her first introduction to art was via books – in her case, the book in question was The Bible. “While growing up on my parent’s farm, I sometimes used to take out the huge family bible from underneath their bed and make drawings from the paintings by Rembrandt, Bosch, Caravaggio, Delacroix and other painters. This was my only exposure to art and it made a lasting impression on me, similar perhaps to the lasting impression that a strong childhood dream would have on the dreamer for many years to come.
“As a child I had a vivid dream in which I was walking down the fields that surround the farm of my parents, climbed over a ditch and suddenly there was a red sun soaked in a massive ocean that I never knew was there before. I was full of both fear and awe, and could hardly look at it. I remember thinking in the dream, ‘Wait till I tell the others about this ocean that no one knew about’. When I woke up I was disappointed to realise the ocean did not exist, only those same green fields.”
Still, the awe she felt during her dream felt so real that it stayed with the artist into adulthood, and she has turned it into inspiration. “Through my life as a painter I try to recreate such sense of wonder in my work,” she says.
Since graduating from the National College of Art & Design in 2000, Quinn has had several solo shows, taken part in numerous group shows and received many awards, including the Thomas Dammann Travel Award, the Travel and Training Award from the Arts Council of Ireland, the K&M Evans Award, the Hennessey Craig Scholarship and a Visual Artists Bursary from the Arts Council. Her work is in the collection of the Irish State, the National Self Portrait Collection of Ireland, Axa Insurance, Health Service Executive, Wesley College, Donegal County Council.
In the frame
Also finishing up this Sunday is ‘Up Close, and Far Away’, an exhibition of lino prints by Portuguese artist Mariana Duarte Santos. The works in this show are based on still frames from ’50s and ’60s TV shows like The Twilight Zone, Hitchcock Presents, The Hitchcock Hour, Tales of Tomorrow and The Outer Limits.
The artist attempts ‘to renew or reanimate the old and poignant images … by isolating them and presenting them in a new way’.
“I chose images from TV shows as opposed to movies because I did not want the actors to be immediately identifiable,” she says, explaining that she wanted to capture ‘the beauty of the images themselves’ rather than generate portraits of celebrities.
“From the beginning of the technological age and with the invention of video, countless numbers of images are created and simultaneously lost,” says Duarte Santos. “In this series I sought to recreate these images using one of the lengthiest and most time consuming art techniques – engraving.”
As the series progressed, Duarte Santos’s linocuts grew in size, getting closer and closer to the size of a big screen. One of them measures 140cm by 170cm and was printed using a steamroller.
‘When I talk, you listen’, by Mariana Duarte Santos.