‘Art unplugs the buzzsaw’
I was invited to submit work into the second edition of ‘Small Art Works’, curated by Gavin Hogg. The only stipulation was that the pieces had to be small, no more than 60cm in size.
The exhibition would be held in The Mews, a recently discovered venue for DIY art exhibitions in Limerick. It is a beautifully restored coach house at the rear of a Georgian red brick house, accessed from an alleyway at the back. There are two floors – the ground floor has the original cobbles, stone walls and mangers intact. The upper floor is more modern with steep (but beautifully designed) stairs, wooden floors and skylights.
I submitted three prints, fresh off the presses and framed. The images relate to a project undertaken up the west coast of the USA where I observed the declining presence of the Nereocystis Luetkeana seaweed (bull kelp). I made plates using various different aquatint processes – lithographic crayons on one, spit bite and sugar lift on another and lithographic crayon, sugar lift and line etching on another. I also applied 22 carat gold leaf to the largest print.
These works are based on a project undertaken while on a journey along the Pacific coast of the USA from Sand Diego to Seattle. Following a casual conversation with a geologist on the visible effects of climate change and human activity on land and sea my perception of the landscape changed. The decline in marine biodiversity since my childhood was striking. It led me to document any traces of Bull Kelp, Nereocystis Luetkeana, I encountered, a species of marine algae which forms the dominant offshore habitat between Santa Cruz CA and Alaska.
Without knowledge many of these changes can be subtle. Once you start becoming aware of what you see they begin to glare. Further decline in habitat and range of bull kelp and many other forms of life worldwide is expected. Without widespread change it is inevitable. With greater awareness of how our daily choices effect the environment we can begin to change our habits and make individual contribution for the benefit of all.
It was great to exhibit with such an interesting selection of locally based artists – Sheila Richardson, Julie Brazil, Nuala O’ Sullivan, Carl Doran, PJ O’Connell and Gavin Hogg. I was the only printmaker in the exhibition – all the other pieces were paintings but I felt the work hung together really nicely and looked great in the space.