Skip to main content

Ireland-Sean Scully

Sean Scully Exhibition
Cut Ground

Kerlin Gallery

On my last day in Ireland, October 6th, my friend Mary and I went to see Sean Scully's show at Kerlin Gallery, in Dublin.  It was just opening that day and I was hoping to see it before I left Ireland.

I spent some time in the gallery and just as I decided to leave, to my surprise and delight, there was Sean Scully coming up the stairs.  He was to be interviewed for Irish television by the Irish painter, Sinead Ni Mhaonaigh.  Scully is a very tall and imposing figure, balding, with a fringe of short grey hair and a stubbily grey beard, looking every bit his sixty-six years until he begins to speak.  Then his entire demeanour changes and a fire comes into his eyes.

I was really privileged to be able to listen to the entire interview as I stood in the gallery.  Scully and Sinead roamed around the enormous white space as the videographer moved the huge rolling camera in and out and around the conversation.  Scully discussed his thoughts on painting and life, talking about how his work is informed by grief, particularly the loss of his son in the 80's, which forever transformed his use of colour.  Listening to his wide-ranging and intense thoughts on the future of art, his disdain for conceptual art, his love of painting, I felt like I was hearing a man who is a warrior for the importance of  deep, emotional, resonant art in the world.  His work is informed by his own brand of spirituality and he is unafraid to say that.  In fact, when asked which two people he would like to meet, living or dead, cited Jesus Christ because he was such an independent thinker, and Mahatma Ghandi.

Sean Scully with Sinead Ni Mhaonaigh for Irish Television RTE

I asked him to sign the stunningly beautiful boxed catalogues that accompanied this exhibition.The catalogues included three inserts. The covers of two of them are written in Arabic.  One catalogue will accompany his exhibition at Kerlin Gallery at Abu Dhabi Art Fair, November 16-19 and refers to time Scully has spent in Morocco.  That part of the exhibition is called Tin Mal, which refers to an important spiritual site in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Scully has painted a series of major works dedicated to sacred sites, the first being Iona, 2004-2006, now at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This exhibition is called Cut Ground and refers to a story from Scully's childhood where he stole candles from his church and hid them away in his garden, in an effort to keep the light.

My residency and visit to Ireland are over for now.  I will be processing this journey for some time and will write more of my thoughts about it as I go along.  But I know I will be back in Ireland next September.  I've already been accepted into the artist residency, Cill Railaig, near the Ring of Kerry, in County Kerry.


Popular posts from this blog

Vulnerability in Art and Life

I taught a cold wax painting workshop in abstraction this past week at St. Lawrence College in Brockville, Ontario. I've never had so many beginners in one class before. Two had never ever painted. One hadn't painted in 4 years. Three made art using other media. Only two painted regularly in landscape and abstraction. What a challenge! In our morning discussions, I gradually came to understand that the main challenge each artist had to face, was their vulnerability. Of course this is the case in every class. I suppose I was more clearly made aware of it though in this workshop. 

As an artist, you come up against yourself all the time. There's no way to hide who we really are. "I suffer as always from the fear of putting down the first line. It is amazing the terrors, the magics, the prayers, the straitening shyness that assail one." John Steinbeck

I've written many times before about vulnerabilityHere, and here. Yet it still comes back into my life, not only in…

About Place: A painting workshop on the Camino

Rebecca Crowell and I are staying in a gorgeous retreat centre on the Camino de Santiago called Flores del Camino. It's in the small stone village of Castrillo de los Polvazares with a population of 100.  Voted one of the most beautiful villages in Spain, the streets are cobblestone and each of the unique earth-coloured stone houses is joined to the next in rows that wind through the town.

There are no yellow arrows or brass shells embedded in the village road marking the way of the Camino, as there are in larger cities. It basically consists of one-street and the  Camino resumes at the edge of town.  Paying attention to the moment doesn't stop though when you come into the village because walking the uneven cobblestone streets is an exercise in mindfulness itself!

The owners of this retreat centre, Bertrand Gamrowski and Basia Goodwin are committed to supporting pilgrims who are walking the Camino, offering them a place to stay as well as offering dinners (payment by donatio…

A Case for Coming to Art Late in Life-Part 1

There are a lot of us out there who have come to art later in life. My workshops are filled with women (mostly) who are between the ages of 50 and 75 (The baby boom generation). Probably most are between 60 and 75. And what interesting people they are! They bring their life experiences with them to their art––their heartaches, joys, achievements, worries, and gratitude. And they are, for the most part, committed artists. They are embracing art like it's finally their time. It's what they've been waiting their whole lives to do. They come with their souls on fire.

"and there was a new voice 
which you slowly
recognized as your own, 
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do––
determined to save
the only life you could save." The Journey by Mary Oliver

 It doesn't matter how old you are if you have passion for life.

That passion can carry us a long way. And while recognition is important in the way…