This body of work was produced in 2012 and 2013,
after a residency at Cill Rialaig Artists Studios in Kerry, Ireland.
Many of the works were shown in a solo exhibition
Ireland - 17 September - 5 October 2013
at Catherine Asquith Gallery, Collingwood, Melbourne Victoria.
Unfortunately this gallery closed soon after the exhibition.
Please contact Jo directly on email@example.com for any information or sales.
Two works were shown at the Sydney Contemporary Art Fair 19- 22 September, 2013
“That’s the birthpangs of a nation”… he said, “ We have to ride the wind”.
Walter Macken, The Scorching Wind, 1964 page 320
Much of my past painting work was concerned with the idea of 'underwater' worlds, and the desire to paint abstract works that encouraged ‘Immersion’. This new body of work explore the idea of the sacred (water) in the landscape.
In 2012 I stayed in ireland, wanting to explore the birthplace of an Irish ophan girl (my great great grandmother) who came to Perth from Cork in 1853. I soon realised the importance of water to the landscape in Ireland, that the whole country was immersed in water. As an Australian - it was amazing to see water just pouring out of the ground and the sky. The Irish seem to have nothing but water, and so it seems, they make it sacred.
The idea and importance of the ‘well’ resonates historically in the colonial Australian landscape as does the ‘holy well’ and ‘holy water’, in Ireland. This symbol connects to deeper references to water and its contested ownership, and to material and spiritual resonances, which are still current in both countries.
I was also interested in the glass globes, filled with holy water and religious figures, used to commemorate loved ones on contemporary graveyards. These surreal little ‘underwater worlds’ acted as tiny poetic markers in the landscape. I am not interested in making ‘religious’ or 'anti-religious' paintings but rather; to explore the visual possibilities inherent in humble objects and places, given the status holy or sacred.
In this new body of work I have aimed to make work using the glowing yet restricted palette of the west coast of Ireland. In some I try to give a sense of an undercurrent I felt in Ireland. The dark stones, dramatic black hills and restless skies. Underneath the peaceful green pastures, lie as Walter Macken wrote in The Scorching Wind (1964), the "Birthpangs of a nation".
The emptiness of the landscape also refers to the huge movement of young people, going across the world "riding the wind' to Australia (again).
I hear the sounds of Irish accents everyday in the streets of Perth and it makes me think of the empty roads of Kerry.
I hear a desperate question asked by a young Irish couple at a garden shop, at the height of an Australian summer; "How do we keep the lawn alive?". It occurs to me that the same question would have been asked in the 1850s.
And yet some of the love goes the other way- friends who have taken surfing back to Ireland, friends who are at home after a long time travelling.
What is this attraction between Austrlaia and Ireland that keeps us travelling the road together?
I would like to thank the people that made possible the residency at Cill Rialaig Artists studios in Ballin Skelligs, Kerry and the people that showed me Ireland: Lizzy Wood, Sean and Wayne Murphy, John Keating, Patrick Costello and his parents, Jean Conroy and Bailey, Rachel Lamb, Colum and Rebecca and especially Paudi Quinlan.