Press Cuttings from 1985 to 2002

Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre
Image Magazine 1989
Image Magazine 1989



The Lady of Shalott

The Lady of Shalott (26 x 21 cms) Watercolour and Gouache

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right—
The leaves upon her falling light—
Thro' the noises of the night
          She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
          The Lady of Shalott.



Homage to John Singer Sargent

Twilight - Homage to Sargent's "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose"

 On show at the 140th Anniversary Exhibition of the 

Dublin Painting and Sketching Club in the Concourse Gallery, 

County Hall Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin

31th March to 13th April 2014

“Twilight” Homage to John Singer Sargent’s “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose” 1885-86

In a letter dated 10th September 1885 to his colleague, Edwin Russell, Sargent wrote,

“I am trying to paint a charming thing I saw the other evening. Two little girls in a garden at dark, lighting paper lanterns hung among the flowers from rose-tree to rose-tree. I shall be a long time about it if I don’t give up in despair, and at any rate two months longer in England”.

Indeed, it took Sargent nearly two years before “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose” was finished due to the limited window of twilight time that was available to him in the garden of a friend’s house in Broadway, Worcestershire, England. The finished piece measures 7 x 5 feet, painted entirely en plein air.  Here Sargent captures the soft light and faery-like atmosphere of his two young models, Dolly and ‘Polly’ Barnard in the Impressionist style.

I’ve always loved this painting because of the magical quality it evokes, especially in the muted colour scheme of soft mauves and oranges. In painting “Twilight”, my homage to Sargent, I was concerned with trying to capture the nostalgia of the past; of my own childhood memories of playing out in the twilight of the long summer evenings; of the memories of my daughters, Jennie and Annie when they were that age; and of old photos I have of my grandmother wearing a similar white pinafore to the girls in Sargent’s painting.

As I couldn’t reconstruct my scene to paint it en plein air as Sargent had done, I resolved to set the scene as a still life, including the predominant flowers of lilies and roses, my grandmother’s old china tea cup and a ‘reproduction’ of the painting propped up in the arrangement, depicting images of my own children.

The cameo of Sargent’s masterpiece is painted in a loose watercolour style, to suggest a sketch, hastily done, of a fleeting moment in time. The romantic and luxuriant depictions of flowers in the still life are interspersed with torn pieces from Sargent’s many letters and painting notes. I wanted to create an ‘old fashioned’ atmosphere, cluttered with sentimental ornaments, imagining the heady scent of the profusion of flowers in Sargent’s painting. To counter balance the old, I set some collaged photos of roses into the scene, (printed on mulberry tissue paper) which gives a translucent layered effect to the watercolour. The modern touch this adds to the painting, hints at the present day while the main atmosphere reflects the past and the passing of time.

"Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose" John Singer Sargent 1885-86

Working sketch for the Cameo inset of Sargent's painting.



Recent Work

Forget-Me-Not 19 x 15 inches  Watercolour and Collage

Matrioshka 19 x 15 inches Mixed Media
detail from Forget-Me-Not
Two new paintings which will be on display at the Dublin Painting and Sketching Club 140th Anniversary Show at the County Hall in Dun Laoghaire from 31st March to 13th April 2014.

I will be posting images of the different stages these paintings went through before completion at a later date on this blog.



Merrion Square Miniatures

A Selection of 4 x 4 inch watercolours with hand-painted collage
With sales so thin on the ground it seems that 'small' is the only way to go.  I am at my best when I am working on a larger scale as I can develop the expression of the painting.  It also provides a sense of being able to become lost in my work, the happiest place in the world for me.  These large paintings are lining my walls, floors, hallway, storage shed and studio.  I take a selection in to Merrion Square with me on Sundays, but with only an eight-foot-long pitch it limits me to showing only one or two.  As Christmas is fast approaching (sorry, didn't mean to mention the "C" word so early) I've decided to re-create the world of Kate Bedell Watercolours in miniature.  Scenes, flowers, and angels are all on the agenda for the next few weeks.  I have also started another large Still life to give me some light relief from the intense intricacies of these small creations.



Finnegans Wake and Molly Bloom at the Ulster Hall Belfast

The UWA 56th Annual Exhibition will be on show in the Ulster Hall, Belfast, from 8th to 29th November 2013
Opening Hours - Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm

I will be exhibiting two pieces in this year's show. Both paintings are Joycean-themed works; one entitled "Mememormee" from Finnegans Wake, which incorporates Joyce's death mask as part of a seascape; the other "Her Breasts All Perfume", in which I depict Molly Bloom as Earth Goddess.  Both paintings are done in Watercolour with hand-painted paper and lace paper collage.

"Mememormee" - Finnegans Wake  16 x 20 "

“Mememormee” Finnegans Wake

I am not a scholar of Joyce. But from what I have read I can say that his genius is remarkable.  When working on some pieces for an exhibition on Joycean-themed images I started to explore the writings of Joyce from a different viewpoint.  I wondered what it must have been like to be in his head with so many overlapping ideas, words, and imagery.  It seemed to me that Joyce wanted to encompass more than just mere words in his writing.  His invented language for Finnegans Wake comes alive when it is read aloud and on hearing this, I started to “see” images in the sounds.

“Mememormee”, is a painting that started with a portrait done from Joyce’s death mask.  While working on it I became aware that I was entering an other worldness.  While I painted I heard repeatedly the words, in memorium, in memorium...  The Word, Mememormee, taken from the last passage of Finnegans Wake where Annalivia Plurabelle is dying, suited the sounds that I was intuitively hearing, so this became the title of the painting.

While working abstractly I often reach a place in the painting where I have to ‘listen’ to the painting in order to know what happens next.  It cannot be worked through as an intellectual process, rather an intuitive one. As I painted, night-time images and sounds of the sea entered my mind in waves and I stared to see an imaginary seascape at night of the view from the back of Joyce’s Tower.  However, the physical image of the Tower is not present in the painting.  I felt it didn’t need to be there as Joyce’s craggy profile embodied the spirit of the Tower.  The waves from the sea wash over his memory, crashing and lashing against the visionary words contained in Finnegans Wake. 

As a visual artist, I felt the need to physically reunite the last and first sentences of the book in a patchwork of torn collage amidst the splintered shoreline of the coast, which contains the memories of my youth, as well as being the setting for many of Joyce’s works.

"Her Breasts All Perfume" Molly Bloom 20 x 16 "

“Her Breast’s All Perfume”   Molly Bloom’s Soliloquy from Ulysses

What can I say about the inspiration for this piece?  Yes!  I love it and have used Molly Bloom’s soliloquy from Ulysses many times in my work.  Her words appear as torn scraps of exclamations amidst many of my highly decorative and textured flower paintings.  However, this is the first time that I have combined these words as collage with one of my nudes. 
As a lover of colours and Klimt, I gave this painting my “all” in terms of gesture and adornment.  The sensuality of Molly’s prose equalled my passion for painting it, and I really went to town on the overt nature of this piece of writing from Joyce.  While sketching some of the preliminary work, I experimented with using different colours and styles for the setting.  Molly’s thoughts flit like butterflies on the breeze and I thought it would be fun to produce a series of sketches on the different ‘moods’ of Molly. “...Shall I wear a red Yes...” expresses a whimsical side to this Earth Goddess (as seen in the small sketch).  Whereas the excerpt “...and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume...” reveal the power of womanhood at its best.
"...Or Shall I Wear a Red...Yes..."



New Paintings at Merrion Square on Sundays

The Wild Swans of Coole- Mysterious, Beautiful
A new year has started on Merrion Square, and I have moved my pitch to number 19.  You can find me opposite the gates of the National Gallery.  I will have a selection of new work on view on Sundays (weather permitting).  I'm usually there early, from about 10 am til 5pm if the weather stays nice.   If you're in town, do drop by to say 'hello'.



Pisces Zodiac Designs

I'm taking some time out this summer to work on the signs of the Zodiac, a project that I started many years ago in my teens.  I started with Pisces as it's my own sign, and will work on Aquarius next.  The original is 12 inches squared and painted with watercolour, with silver pen, silk outliner pen and collaged with painted papers which I made on white tissue paper.  Here are some close-ups of the design.

The background was created with a mottled watercolour wash and sponged with white gouache.

Over the initial watercolour wash I spattered paint, gold ink, gold collage paper and silk outliner pen.

A close up of the fishes

The fish scales are  made up of layers of a painted background, painted collage paper, overlayed with gold spattering.

The tail showing the 'dots' of paint made by the silk outliner pen (normally used for silk painting)

 I paint on tissue paper with acrylic paint.  Each piece takes several layers of paint, either painted on,sponged or spattered on.  It's tricky trying to paint on the thin tissue so I keep the pieces fairly small (about A4)

Working with collage papers can involve a lot of mess so it is important to get organized.  I have boxes and boxes of little pieces of collage colours that might come in useful for a future project.  These papers are the ones I used for the Pisces design and a tarot design I am working on for The Empress, entitled "Enfoldment".



"Walking Into Eternity"

"...Her Breasts All Perfume..."  Molly Bloom from Ulysses"
 Two Exhibitions to celebrate James Joyce and Bloomsday 
"Walking Into Eternity"
at the MAGPIE INN, Dalkey June 7th to 21st 12pm to 8pm
at DALKEY ART SPACE, 30 Dalkey Park, June 8th to 22nd
Thursday to Sunday 11am to 5pm
"Mememormee" Finnegans Wake

"Andalusian Girl"

"Joyce - Man of Letters"



Exhibition at European Union House

Sun Goddess, Watercolour and Collage 15 x 19 inches
A pre-exhibition launch for the 135th Dublin Painting and Sketching Club annual exhibition, entitled 'A European Canvas' will be on show in European Union House in Dawson Street, Dublin from 27th March til 5th April.  Twenty-six paintings from the main show are on view, including my painting "Sun Goddess".  This painting started off as a demonstration I did for the Watercolour Society a couple of years ago.  Despite looking like a  mixed media painting, it is all  done in watercolour.  Translucent layers of silk paper, and heavier textured paper, some painted with gold, were added at the final stages.
Detail from Sun Goddess



Portraits in Pastel

My working box of pastels
It had been years since I worked with pastels when an old friend asked me to do a couple of portraits.  Despite having bought a box of 100 Sennelier Pastel a l'ecu especially for Portraits in a beautiful wooden box,  I discovered that it contained very few colours for doing the cool tones in the skin.  I went online to see what was out there that wasn't going to cost too much and found this great collection for portraits by Sennelier containing 40 half pastels.  The weren't wrapped, so didn't show their name or number, but I made a sheet detailing the colour with the contents listed on the outside of the box.  I discovered that one of my favourite cool tones is Van Dyke Violet, a colour that I would not normally use in either watercolour or oil.

My make-shift colour chart
Although I made the chart in rather a hurry, (and don't refer to it much), it was a good exercise in taking out the colours and actually looking at them so that I could build a picture in my head of what colours I needed to make the kind of portrait that I wanted.  It was also a good excuse to just 'play' with the pigment and enjoy the silky smoothness of applying the colour.  However, I found that even though I had made an accurate drawing of my subject, I found that the soft pastel was a little bit clumsy for getting detail, and that, without intending to do so, my lines were getting thicker and creeping out to make the initial drawing lose its accuracy and therefore lose the likeness of the subject.  What I found that worked very well was to do a tracing of the face after I had drawn it, and use this to refer back to a when the portrait had progressed.  I do this by simply laying the tracing over the work and then I can see exactly where my edges may have spilled over, enlarging the subject's features.  It is still a very slow process though.  I can usually get the main drawing done quickly and lay down the foundation colours without a problem.  It is the little small marks and adjustments though, that take the longest.  During this period, which may take up to two weeks,  I work in hourly sessions as it can be tedious and tiring.  When I have done all I need to do, I then bring the portrait inside to where I can see it as I'm passing as I go about cooking dinner etc.  Usually one or two things that were not obvious before, jump out and I return the portrait to the studio where I work on it some more.

The finished portrait in Pastel



USWA at Stormont

"I Love Flowers"  20 x 16  Watercolour and Collage with the words of Molly Bloom.
To celebrate International Women's Day 2013, the Ulster Society of Women Artists have been invited to hold an exhibition in The Great Hall, Parliament Buildings, Stormont.  The work is on view to the public from 8th March to 5th April 2013. 



ArtSpace at Arc

Some of my collegues and I have opened a new gallery in Dalkey.  We're just open on Saturdays at the moment but plan to open more days soon.  At present I will be showing work here along with Jackie Ball and Ann McKenna.  Our stock is gradually increasing with small  affordable paintings suitable for gifts, and also some unframed work.  To see some of the paintings on view please look at the new ArtSpace Blog



Ulster Watercolour Society

Opium Poppies 16 x 20 "Watercolour with gold ink
Just a quick post to say that I won the 'Best Flower Painting' award for this painting at the Ulster Watercolour Society Exhibition which is on Show at the Waterfront Hall until 30th November 2012.



Piergroup Independent Artists

 Here are some of the paintings that I will have on show at the Exhibition

Moving Into Light 30 x 22" Watercolour

Repose 15 x 21" watercolour

Incredible Iris 20 x 16" Mixed Media Collage

Peony in Blue Vase 18 x 14" Mixed Media Collage

Gilded Sunflower - Mixed Media Collage



Ulster Society of Women Artists Annual Exhibition

"Two Most Precious Things"

The Ulster Society of Women Artists' 55th annual Exhibition opened on 8th October 2012 at The Waterfront Hall, Belfast.  I am pleased to announce that I have recently been made a member of this prestigious group which was founded in 1957 by Gladys McCabe MBE MA (Hon) ROI RUA FRSA (Italian Academy).  The Patron of the Society is Her Grace The Duchess of Abercorn.

I was especially honoured to receive the President's Award for my painting "Two Most Precious Things" which was inspired by the story of The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde.

The exhibition is open Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm and will run until the 27th October 2012.

For more information visit