Artist Statement

I have been a professional artist for forty years and been the recipient of many awards including the Guinness Peat Aviation award and the Martyn Toonder Award. I was one of the first artists taken on by Taylor Galleries in 1979 and have been exhibiting with them since.

I have consistently explored the qualities of ‘new’ materials such as fibreglass resin, paper making and during the last fifteen years encaustic painting in which I have paved a new direction in Irish painting. One of the recurring themes in my work has been “the four elements” Earth, Fire, Air and Water.

I have discovered that this Greek concept, instead of  being an outmoded and endearing view of the world that had been superseded by the putting into place of the periodic table and modern scientific thought as I had been taught; I now understand the deep truths it contains; that for example the word “water” is a designation for all matter in a liquid state e.g. blood, molten metal etc. This has led me to reach an understanding of the connection between these designations and the biblical seven-day designation of ‘the creation’ and man’s relationship to it.

It seems contradictory that this esoteric subject matter be dealt with in such a physical way as thick impasto encaustic paint. The strange thing is, that perhaps because the paint is applied in many and ever thinner layers,  somehow, the spirit of the intention is trapped in the space created by the layers, then released to the viewer in direct proportion to the time and attention they give the painting.

This exploration has largely been a private one, running in tandem with the work that I have shown in public. As I have been working on this for twenty years, a considerable body of work has been made, yet not shown. The images here, represent a significant distillation of these explorations. I now feel confident that this investigation is ripe for public viewing.

The images are studies towards seven large-scale paintings on canvas, which will be the culmination of much research and development. I plan this work to be the kernel of a retrospective exhibition focussing specifically on this virtually unknown aspect of my work.

The first four of these 5ft square paintings are also  fire, air water and earth, but these also corrospond to the first four days of creation, the rest therefore corropond to the last three. These also link to seven the days of the week, the seven notes of the scale and the seven colours of the rainbow, the seven planets. In other words all of creation.

 

Helen Comerford.

March 16th 2011