Highly regarded as a painter and working predominantly on canvas, Thomas Barron’s work develops through a series of very carefully worked stages. The process begins in pencil and progresses to include multiple layers of paint resulting in pieces with a great sense of depth, and a particular compositional balance between forms. Defining his paintings, a host of amorphous shapes jostle, float, and dance around each other on the canvases, each shape containing its own separate universe of marks, application, and colours. Thomas is the composer, the orchestrator and instrumentalist all at once for his visual arrangements. Sometimes titled, sometimes not his paintings seem open for interpretation. The paintings Mary’s Street Dublin and Farm and Hotel add some lyrics through titles to his compositions, giving a sense of, or connection to a place in their making. Whereas his many untitled works like the one selected here evoke a quiet mystery.
Declan Byrne has been working as an artist since 2004 and has created a remarkable body of work. His work takes inspiration from a wide variety of everyday objects. He transforms the world around him through detailed and clearly articulated compositions of built-up layers of drawing and painting. His paintings are rich and loaded with dense pattern and colour. Wedding night is one of his favourite examples of this. The intricate and vivid detail in his canvases is echoed in Declan’s more recent sculpture work, which are created from attaching carefully cut dried acrylic paint found in painting pallets to objects. For this selection, an old pair of shoes and a broken statue have been tenderly regenerated by these processes. For all artists art is a form of communication, and especially so for Declan.
Diana Chambers is a prolific painter who takes her inspiration from sourced imagery and objects. In your average studio day, Diana can make over 10 paintings, and hundreds, maybe upwards of a thousand paintings over the course of a year. The task for an artist to select three key works out of such vast numbers of paintings would normally be staggering. However, Diana made her selection with the same impulse, delight, and rapid-fire decision-making processes that fill her paintings with the abundance of energy and zest they embody. None of these working processes are at the expense of skill. Diana is a master of her medium. Her handling of materials, colours, and forms at high speed to translate insightful characteristics of her source material into paintings always seems highly accurate and effortless.
Mary has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally in a variety of group, duo, and solo shows. Mary has evolved into a unique and accomplished painter, and this selection tracks her engagement working with large volumes of paint, beginning in 2012. Through a process of layering wool and paint, Mary creates abstracted artworks that speak out to the viewer through colour, form and texture. Each piece in recent times embodies a unique energy that carefully tenses the boundary between painting and sculpture. Her painting Blue Sky is an outstanding example of this process and series of works. The roots of these paintings can be seen in two untitled canvases painted a few years earlier that are included in her selection here.
Lorna works on canvas with paint, and sensitively handles ink and pastel on paper. Lorna embraces a range of subjects, often taken from her memory or travels to Australia and France. Since the age of 5, when she poured a can of bright red paint over herself and a dull grey tractor, Lorna has considered herself an artist. Colour and nature weave into each other seamlessly in harmony on the surfaces of her paintings and drawings. Birds, people, flowers, the sea, a forest, and sunshine are depicted and featured in her selection of works. The mood and tone is joyful, tranquil and vibrant. The pieces have a summers pulse about them. These artworks are a timely treat for the viewer. The optimism and longing of many for the coming summer is palpable, with the promise that our world and society may be moving out of the troubled and uncertain period experienced in recent times.
Sinead Fahey has developed her own unique, playful, and distinctive style over many years. Her strong narrative graphic style has been expressed in different media including paint, wood, and stone sculpture. Her work draws on memory and imagination recalling important people and moments in her life and in the life of her friends and colleagues. They often give special attention to human interactions, gestures and scenes that may, in everyday life, pass by unnoticed. The three paintings Sinead chose to highlight all depict scenes from KCAT and feature the artist herself. She is seen standing in front of the KCAT building, working at her desk and even hanging decorations on the KCAT Christmas tree. These paintings demonstrate real affection between the artist, her studio and community of peers. Sinead’s paintings illuminate the experience of KCAT and are literally part of the fabric of the site in spirit and stone, which is decorated by an enormous mural designed by the artist on the front of building.
Fergus FitzGerald works primarily in acrylic on canvas. An avid traveller, location greatly informs Fergus’ work. Being a lover of linguistics and books, Fergus enjoys researching his subjects for paintings and applies text to his canvases. Fergus paints images exploring various locations he has visited or aspires to visit. This selection includes paintings exploring sites in Greece and Egypt. Monuments, buildings and landscapes from the ancient to the contemporary world feature. The earliest is a painting of an Egyptian pyramid, that transports the viewer through time as well as geography. In later works, both depicting scenes from Greece, the paintings have text drawn onto the surface, weaving his own personal thoughts on the subject of the work with researched facts, now a signature of Fitzgerald’s painterly language.
Eileen Mulrooney has lived and worked in South Tipperary and Kilkenny all her life. Many of Mulrooney’s drawings and paintings are based on her local scenery and direct experiences. Creating a wide variety of imagery, she fixes onto canvas the landscapes she passes through, the buildings she encounters, and the people and her friends who inhabit those spaces. Eileen has a remarkable skill for creating a sense of place in her work. The three works exhibited here typify this in different ways. In a painting depicting a scene from Courtown harbour the artists view is still and considered. The sense of passing and moving through a landscape that is just about caught is evident in the canvas My Minds Eye of the Comeraghs. Whereas in almost surreal fashion a sense of place is illustrated through the sensation of a moment in her ink drawing of a tree from memory.
Andrew Pike has gained a reputation as a multidisciplinary artist, for this selection he has focused on his paintings, each one representing a key motif regularly visited by Pike throughout his practice. Lagoon references an exotic landscape, one of many to feature New Zealand where the artist lived for 23 years. Key figures from political and cultural history often make appearances in his paintings and drawings too. The cast of Movers and Shakers unities the leaders, adversaries, and allies of many of the wars and revolutions that shaped the centuries, and creates a harmony of sorts, compositionally speaking at least. However, the most dominant character to feature in his work is Andrew himself. The self-portrait selected to present here was commissioned significantly to be part of the national Self-portrait Collection of Ireland and depicts Pike in his most comfortable and magical setting of all, his studio!
Jason Turner has explored a variety of themes ranging from abstraction to figurative skyscapes of the solar systems. In 2014, Jason took a decisive turn in his practice and began painting various species of birds, a direction inspired by childhood memories of keeping pigeons. The act of painting provides Jason with a freedom to examine the anatomy and dynamic foliage of birds. Jason has selected two of his favourite examples from this ongoing series. His other painting selected Reaching for the Sun is an early work. It is hard not to draw parallels between the story from Greek myth of Icarus and a fascination for the skies and flight in this and Jason Turner’s recent paintings. It serves as a curious prelude to the bird paintings that came later.
Brianna joined KCAT Studio in 2018, she continues to develop her love of painting and drawing. Brianna takes inspiration from her travels in Spain, architecture, and her love of playing basketball. In recent times, Brianna has been creating a world of her own through her painting practice. Brianna has been developing the planet of Castalia (named after Castalia Hall in Ballytobin Co. Kilkenny) painting by painting. The imagined and dramatic landscape of this world features in two of her selected works. The additional painting selected brings us back to earth, to witness a Tornado roaring through Oklahoma.
Fintin Kelly became a KCAT Studio Artists 2017, where he continues to develop his dynamic style in a variety of media. Although the artworks Fintin has chosen to present here are all paintings, the sense of his multi-disciplinary nature comes through in his selection. In these abstract paintings, the titles are formed with the spirit of a poet, they even sound cinematic, like titles for movies, a medium Fintin is extremely fond of. The painting process also embodies a sense of the artist performance, or act of painting, through the blobs, daubs, and brushstrokes, each a record and hint of a movement and action played out between the artist and painting surface. These are also surfaces that blur painting, sculpture, and design languages to striking affect.
Margaret Walker joined the Studio in 2003. For many years, Margaret was happiest working in paint on canvas or paper. In recent times however, her practice has shifted towards creating textiles and installation works. A love, appreciation, and fascination for the local seems to underpin her artwork and the motivations behind their creation. The themes and motifs most often featured in her art come from stories, history, buildings, and objects contained within the boundaries of the small area of Coolagh and Callan in her home County of Kilkenny. The shift towards craft orientated materials also seems to celebrate and represent a rapport with by gone local values that relate to skill and labour, once at the heart of communities in towns and villages all over Ireland. For this selection, Margaret has chosen to look back at her paintings. The paintings depict three separate and distinct landmarks in Callan. All three sites Callan Church, Keoghs Bakery and Brett Brothers Industrial Unit are within a ten-minute walk from the heart of the Callan.