Surfacing is a series of paintings and photographic artworks that reference and interrogate traditional notions of landscape representation.
Surfacing Photograph Lake Inchequin Co Clare. Photographic Print 2007
The environmental quality of the West of Ireland informs the Viscqueux and Surfacing series of works. The objects, photographs and paintings are steeped in disappearing imagery, exposing the fragility of the life in these regions, from farming and food production to the scarring of post-boom Ireland.
Lake Inchequin in County Clare was the site for this research. Between 2003 and 2008 the accumulation of detritus and algal growth was recorded. This algae is a residue of the eutrophication that slowly de-oxygenates the water in rivers and lakes in the region and gave the paintings their title, Viscaux- slimy, a form of matter that was full of potential as a conceptualisation of the ‘dark side’ of Irish landscape. The word signifies the problematic relationship between history, landscape and identity being enacted in the West today. Solids, Sartre reasons, are like tools; they can be taken up and put down again, having served their purpose. But the slimy, in the form of the gagging suction of a leechlike past that will not release its grip, seems to contain its own form of possessiveness. It is, he writes, “the revenge of the In-itself.”[i]
Viscqueux #16 2008 Oil/Board 20 x 20 cm Private Collection
I photographed the local and immediate catchment area from 2005-2008 documenting the water quality as an indicator of the ecological difficulties arising from waste disposal and land management in the Burren. The research material gathered was used to initiate paintings, incorporated into grids of algae and as used as works in their own right. The image making processes, here photography, the manipulation of physical materials found on site together with painting, provided a space for reflection on all aspects of practice and its hunt for appropriate visualisation.
The paintings were made in tandem with the photographs in the Viscqueux series. Using dark, pigmented gesso boards as a surface, the photographs are transcribed and rendered monochromatically. The subject matter hovers between abstraction and reality producing an uncanny conflation between physical experience and illusion. In his writing on the relationship between photography and painting, Gerhard Richter has said that the photograph ‘provokes horror and the painting- with the same motif- something more like grief.’[ii] Underpinning this work was the idea that painting could disrupt the photographic image and prompt a degree of reflexivity on the part of the viewer. In the past landscape may have evoked a terror of the infinite, the sublime. Now, given the world’s current environmental course, it provides something akin to a terror of loss.
Viscqueux #17 2008 Oil/Board 20 x 20 cm Private Collection
Algal Wall Siamsa Tire Gallery Tralee 2008
Viscqueux Photograph# 6 Inkjet Print on Diebond 150 x 150 cm 2005
Viscqueux Photograph# 4b Inkjet Print on Diebond 150 x 150 cm 2005