New Collection - inspired by historical Irish Wallpapers: Part 1

For the last number of months I’ve been working on the idea of incorporating patterns from historical Irish wallpapers, dating from the 1700’s and 1800’s, into my work. I have really enjoyed researching and learning about the wonderful work that artisans in Ireland were creating and producing here in Ireland between 200 - 300 years ago.  My latest work juxtapositions my modern, abstract, colour soaked squares with handpainted subtle patterns that echo historical and rich wallpapers that adourned the walls of select houses in Ireland two and three centuries ago. 

      

I’m loving the play between old and new, and how the layered narrative draws you further and further ‘into the painting’, like passing through time.  

The patterns ‘came to life’ for me having spent time with artisan wallpaper maker and wallpaper historian David Skinner, observing and listening to his wealth of knowledge about all things historical wallpaper. And when I say wealth of knowledge, David is the absolute ‘guru’ of historical wallpaper in Ireland. He has even written the book ‘Wallpaper in Ireland 1700 - 1900’, Churchill House Press, 2014.  If you are looking for a lavishly illustrated book and a fascinating read on the history of the production of and use of wallpaper in Ireland from the early eighteenth century to the close of the nineteenth century, well look no further, this is the book you need to read. All proceeds from the sale of the book go directly to the Irish Georgian Society which is committed to saving Ireland’s architectural heritage.  

     

For many years I’ve been attracted to historical wallpaper and carpet patterns. Other artists have incorporated influences into their own work over the years, including one of my favourite artists, Rudolf Stingel, who regularly references such patterns in his work.  

     

 

For me I’m attracted to the richness of the patterns, the symetry and the repetition of patterns. This is all consistent with the the original influence on the development of my small squares and their roots in the capturing of, and the celebration of, positive moments, strengths, and the benefit of repeating good things in the search for excellence.  

In researching the patterns, at one point in late December I found myself at the table in my studio, all wrapped up, woolly hat on, pencil in hand, head down, drawing, drawing, drawing intricate patterns, sheet after sheet, and an atmospheric world emerges. Everything slowed down around me and at one point I felt I could feel the excitement of wondering what new influences might come ashore next from creative hotbeds at the time like London, France, China and other places. 

Though a process of researching, reviewing samples, drawing and generally feeling the patterns, three patterns in particular resonated with me. The three patterns have their origins in designs that were originally created in the 1700’s and 1800’s. The three wallpaper patterns are: 

  • Damask Pattern, from Birr Castle, Co. Offaly;
  • Shamrock Pattern, Fota Estate, Co. Cork;
  • Tulip Pattern, Chapelizod, adapted by David Skinner from a William Morris design. 

     

These patterns and their juxtaposition with my small squares has ignited something interesting inside and I sense a corner has been turned and a new journey is about to commence. It’s exciting ..!! 

One of the things I love about the ‘art side’ of my life is the way that it brings me into contact with so many interesting people, like David Skinner above. In developing this new twist to my work, I’d like to extend a special word of thanks to Ian Crawford who lives in Stamullen and who really helped me work through how I could paint the patterns on the background canvas.  

I’m also really delighted with how my paintings are now being presented, and Ger Boylan, from the Picture Framing Place (I know, I love the name ..!!) in Skerries, north Co. Dublin, does a fabulous job of ‘floating’ my canvases in the middle of really nice box frames.  

The first of the new pieces featuring patterns from Historical Irish wallpapers will be showing with the Sol Gallery in New York at the Affordable Art Fair, opening on 29 Mar and running to 2 April.

If you have any queries in relation to the new pieces, or if you would like high resolution images of the work, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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