When I was in my degree year I went through a dilemma, I had been making paintings about nature and the environment but using materials that were toxic, particularly white spirits, it seemed paradoxical. I stopped painting and began to work with natural and reclaimed materials, doing land art and interventions. One of the more playful ones I remember doing was a tree with brown bread horses dangling from it in Cork city. My thesis was called “Art from the Land” and I became inspired reading books such as “The unpainted Landscape”. Artists such as Chris Drury and Robert Janz were making work I found interesting. Even when I was doing ephemeral pieces such as “Ice melting on indigo” and “Flour on a car roof” I tended to think of them like paintings, I just could not get away from it! I documented them with photography. I then took it a step further and used natural materials such as rice paper and cotton sheets to document the weather. I used the rice paper to hold the traces left behind by rain showers, and used reclaimed old bank statements folded and stitched and formed into vessels then filled with pigment and oil, when the breeze blew the drips would form wind portraits.
Now I have come in a circle or spiral and I do it all! The different ways of working all interlink and over lap, the paintings sometimes disappear and words are painted and the ephemeral becomes preserved! I do not see it as a question of one or the other but I see there being a place for all. In my practice I recycle, reclaim, and I reduce my use of toxic substances such as white spirits. It can be reused if you allow the mucky paint the sink to the bottom and pore it into another container, it goes a bit orange but it is fine to use again. You can also get water soluble oil paint but I do prefer the oil paint you use white spirits or turpentine with. One day I would love to only use pure pigments, made up in the old fashioned and loved way by James.
My thought of the day,
Sublime and mundane are one and the same!