Royal Ulster Academy – Belfast 2023

Delighted to be selected for the 124th RUA Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition. I’m sure the work and dedication of all involved is huge. From selecting the works from over 2000 submissions, shortlisting down to 400 and then the final selection of 200ish. I am very grateful to be in the final selection. There are times I haven’t been selected, and I don’t pretend it doesn’t feel shite. But one must dust oneself off and rev up the engine and remember why I pick up a paintbrush or squish my hands in clay.

So big congratulations to all who are on the walls and equal congratulations to everyone who steps into their studio space, attic, kitchen table, and creates.

Big thanks also for all the hard work behind the scenes of all these shows from the curator, hanging, catalogue design, front of house, the managing of the gallery, and the staff-artist interaction, which I have to say in the RUA, this connection is wonderful. You are always made feel like you are a vital part of the show! Major thanks to Mary, Ruth, Julia and all the team, for always giving that wonderful Belfast welcome. @jameshoransculpture @katebeaganartist @alandoolan1


Show runs until January 2nd 2024, so go see, go support, go buy, go be inspired. So many wonderful works.

B

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Electric Picnic 2023 – Invited Artist

Electric Picnic has always been on the wish list, but life always seem to get in the way so when I got a call to invite me as one of the artists to work on a big painting for the festival, I jumped at the opportunity. While I am used to working big, I am not used to working with people around me and within a time constraint. But I guess I am now. It was such a lovely experience both on site in the stable working on it with the company of other artists working on theirs.

Here it is, the painting I did for @epfestival it’s huge just like the festival..
Art once again brought me new experiences, new connections, and opportunities. It’s so easy to stay in our comfort zones, and believe me, this took me way out of mine.

Soooo, if you’re at #ep and see my painting, take a selfie and send it to me.
I can’t believe that with all the thousands of people here, I still haven’t bumped into anyone I know.

B

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Mermaid Arts Centre Bray – TWENTY ONE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY @mermaidartscentre, congratulations @lemuela and all the team for super evening on Friday 14th July 2023 for the preview of TWENTY ONE, a selected group exhibition of work from 130 artists, celebrating 21 years of Mermaid Arts Centre’s Gallery and Visual Art Programme. This collection of work in media from painting to photography was made following a huge response from artists all over Ireland, and we are delighted to showcase artists both old and new to Mermaid.

Nice to be among such wonderful artists, art connects. Didn’t manage to get pics of all the chats but great to catch up with.

Show runs until September 2023

B

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Transference; How you see me is how you see yourself – Source Arts Centre Thurles

Transference; How you see me is how you see yourself – Source Arts Centre, Thurles, Co Tipperary, 2nd July – 1st August 2023.

In the setting up for my upcoming show in Source Arts Centre Thurles, there was no running away now. It’s funny as I look at the paintings all around the perimeter of the huge gallery space. It reminds me of a teenage disco.

The music is blasting, then it goes down tempo, slows right down. To awkward pace. Careless whisper by George Michael pipes up (I know showing my young age), then it’s sit and wait. Will you? won’t you? be asked up for a ‘slow set’. If not you were counting the seconds for Tainted Love, by Soft Cell to pump its way around the community hall so that you could become invisible amongst the crowd.

Ahhhh Memories. Yes, that’s what my exhibition taps into. Memories, mine, hopefully yours. I love hearing what memories come up for you through my work. You see, it’s just like when I say, Battenburg, loop the loops, big time bars, candy cigarettes, ice cream man, putting on the emersion, boot skates, out till dark, yo-yo’s, skateboards, cool pops, community games, soda streams, bringing your bottles back for money, milk man, bread man, what do you recall?

Transference, how you see me is how you see yourself, please join me on Saturday at 2pm for the opening.

Show opens Fri 2nd to July 1st.

B

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STEM + Creativity= STEAM

Lots of talk about STEM subjects in the media the other day. This is brilliant but where is the A in all of this? Where’s art?

‘EM’ to me fits snugly in between the E and the M, this insertion of A creates STEAM. We all know steam creates, power, movement, and energy?

By adding a little creativity into science, technology,  engineering, and maths, we introduce many elements to enhance learning, thinking, the problem-solving abilities. ‘Thinking outside the box’, is the ability to look at a challenge within science and see the way through using a creative approach.

I posted about this on In Instagram recently and I had many artists reply which you would expect. However, I had two scientists, who replied one said ” I 100% agree, The amount of creative thinking needed in the industry I work in is huge, just knowing the technical parts only gets you so far, I know, I am a scientist”  I mean I rest my case.

Then there’s the other advantage of Art, the proven research into it aiding our health and our well-being. In schools, this is paramount in minding our young. There’s enough stress on them, therefore, to have a subject that not just allows but encourages you to colour outside the lines. To explore, experiment, make mistakes but most importantly try again. To change your mind. Another comment on Instagram read “…art practicing the arts are critically essential to the developing mind, the capacity to reason and feel, solve problems, understand trial and error, and keep practicing both through success and failure, take risks, observe with compassion.”

By adding art, STEAM is not about growing more professional artists. It was never about that.

 

My schoolyears.

When I was in school, I needed art. I was, I believed, crap at it. Yes, I was. I had no confidence, if there was a rock near by I would like to climb under it. (I still have nightmares about the leaving cert, even just the other night).  When it came to any other subject, I loved when I had to draw a diagram or illustrate something, THAT WAS MY HAPPY PLACE, however, the other part of the question would be scraped together.

The expressive aspect of art allowed me to do something I felt I could do, allowed me to get lost, and was the only part of the work I enjoyed.  This was never nurtured by any of the teachers, not even the art teacher. I’m talking secondary school here. My religion teacher was the only one who would make a comment of encouragement, but years on an old-school pal commented that my religion copy was brilliant. I was gobsmacked. I couldn’t believe she remembered.

My school report always said’ Bernadette could do better if she applied herself. This is true, I won’t deny that. The reality was there was lots going on for me as a kid/teenager and I believe I could have done better if someone in authority took a little more interest in what I enjoyed doing and nurtured that. I would not have fit into a STEM system but STEAM would have found a place for me.

Ironically, many years passed, about 30 years actually. I get a call from said school. They came across my website, it looked like I had done well for myself and the teacher was trying to place me, who I was, perhaps stake claim that I went to their school. However, she couldn’t remember me, ‘maybe it was because I had married’, she said. She asked me for my maiden name, but still nothing. I couldn’t be placed. She couldn’t remember me, Well at least I hadn’t been a troublemaker, she would remember me then. I also wasn’t a high achiever or a sportsperson who represented the school in the national games. No, she never could place me, because I fell under the radar.

That’s my tuppence worth as they say on the importance of Art.

I just looked at my school report and as I remembered, Bernadette could do better, Bernadette needs to apply herself, but look at the comment my art teacher gave, see below.

 

Thanks for reading,  12 year old me.

 

 

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Philadelphia Here I come.

Straight out of Ireland, Irelands finest contemporary creative talents.

That song is in my head since I got the email to say I was selected to travel to Philadelphia to exhibit. The exhibition takes place in the Sacred Heart Academy, Bryn Mawr, PA. from  11th-13th November.

The aim of the exhibit is to “Promote some of the abundance of today’s Irish talent  with a vision of exhibiting art that reflects the contemporary and stylish work available while exhibiting the soul of current say Ireland”

I will be showing a selection of paintings and am in the process of packing them and sending them on their way. They will arrive and be waiting to be unwrapped and hung with pride. After which it will be time to get glammed up and ready for the Gala opening.

This is really exciting and a big deal for me as an artist. This is such a wonderful opportunity to spread my wings and bring my work to new audiences. Who knows what will come of it. One thing is always sure is friendship. Art makes you friends.

If you are in the Philly area and New York, give me a bell, send me a message on Instagram or facebook. Or have any good tips or suggestions send my way.

I am so excited and proud to be selected and get to show my work among a great line up of artists and creatives.

Best for now,

Bernadette

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Wexford Festival Opera 2022 Exhibition

Open studio exhibition.

It’s that time of year again.Yes the wonderful Wexford Opera Festival. Are you planning on visiting, it’s the best time of year to take a trip to Wexford. As the rest of the country is battening down the hatches and getting ready to hibernate. Wexford starts to fizz with glamour, music, art, food. It really is wonderful. There will be so much art you will be nourished deep in your soul. If its your first time you will wonder how you haven’t been before. You could be walking down the street and look up and hear the most incredible opera singers performing from  above shop windows as seen last year in Barkers. It sure would give you goosebumps.

My studio will be open daily 11 -5 or by appointment outside these hours. It is located in the Creative hub, directly opposite  Wexford Library and is also accessible  from the main street just beside Joannes bakery.  The hub is home to many more artists so grab a coffee on your way and be ready to be inspired, chat to artists, learn about their practice enjoy yourself.

I do hope to see and welcome you to my studio.

Best

Bernadette.

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Exhibition Opening – 35 Donegal Place Belfast

Super excited to be Exhibiting in Belfast this week. To say the space is incredible is an understatement. It’s breathtaking. I just know any artist would be in love with the space. It’s like something out of New York. My work is hugging the walls like they were made for it. You might find me hugging the walls, I’m in love. Come see what you think, of the art too not just the walls 😁

I hope to see you there if you can make it, this Thursday 2nd June 2022 at 7pm, at 35 Donegal Place Belfast City Centre. @35dp_belfast

Update, if you missed the exhibition we captured it in all its full glory in a Virtual Tour for you to enjoy.

B

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Covid 19, Arts Council award.

I am not a landscape painter.

It was in March 2020 when we all became familiar with the term covid 19 or Coronavirus. I have to share with you my first encounter with it. We had friends who moved to China in 2019 and we have a watts app group to keep in contact. As early as November there was mentions of Corona in the group, I thought they were talking about beer. As it wasnt until March we had been accustomed to it or at least had or first introductions to the virus and what it meant. At the moment we are very much accustomed to it. Masks, hand sanitisers, social distancing, Christmas dinners with no gravy boats, that was an advisory not to share a gravy boat.

Arts Council of Ireland crisis response award.

I would like to thanks the Arts Council of Ireland for their Crisis reaponse award. There were over 900 applications and only 300 lucky applicants. Id prefer to say lucky as opposed to sucessful as Im sure all applicants were as much worthy of it.

Up to now, my practice has been very much figurative and portraiture, I use alot of empty space within my work, very pared back. During lockdown my studio had beeen closed and we were unable to get access. I had the use of this studio in town through our local Arts Department and arts officer, this is the place I get to work large scale, I mean really big. Now that I am at home I am limited to the scale, not so big. I applied for the award to use the time in lockdown and beyond to address my new lockdown surroundings and how this could be incorporated into my practice. Could it influence my work, my approach.

The sun was out and I was in the garden.

The weather was fantastic and I spent most of the time in the garden, clearing neglegted greenhouse and vegetable patches. Growing vegetables became my new practice. The creative practice was being replaced by a shovel and hoe. But observaton was even more heightened, the inner creative doesnt get to take time off or go on sabatical. No it shows up sees the contorted apple tree branch in watercolours, the vivid green courgette seedlings in sap green ink.  So I wanted to spend some time through sketch and research in an area that was alien to me as a painter. However, important to point out here very loudly, I am not a landscape painter, I really wouldnt know where to start, but I was going to show up and see how it could possibly become part of my practice. I admire Plein air painters, if it was me on the street you would have no problem recognising me, I would be the one hiding in a tent, with an easel stuck out. I am definatly an artist who works in isolation and is very content.

In the beginning, there was resistance and I felt because I wasn’t out sketching my courgettes or okra that I was failing in this undertaking. I had to be kinder to myself as I think we all have to be in this strange time, no demands on self, to be as kind as possible. I realised observation was a constant. I was doing it even if I the tool in hand was a shovel instead of a paintbrush. I was adding to the inner artist filing system, recording not only visual but emotional. Processing what was happening every day, the uncertainty, new restrictions, new concepts of how life was to be lived in the immediate future.

We were out of lockdown before I started really being able to process how and what was I going to do. I found what was incredible was through all the uncertainty even to date, I know, I am a positive, the glass half full approach. I also found out I have a high grit score, if any of you are familiar with it. Basically means I don’t give up easily. Why am I saying this, well the subjects connected through their positive symbolic presence.

I wanted to explore my surrounding in the garden the colour, shapes, presence and most of all the connection to me at this time and the value of it in my practice. However, most of this only became apparent in the wrapping up of this project.

As I said, I turned to gardening, something I love to do, I am at home in the garden. Yet I never include it in my painting. My painting is figurative,  emotional depictions of the human condition, the crisp empty spaces around the figure are I suppose synonymous with my work.

Magnolia and hope.

I realised that my approach and what inspires me will be found in all I do, even if the subject matter changes. I have found approaching painting for example the magnolia, that it was really just another figure, it had line, shape, planes, light, shadow, form. It had its own personality, presence. It could imbue an emotional response. Through this time magnolia really beacame my study. I wanted to explore colour, which I did through many mediums, watercolour, pencil, oilpaint, acrylic. On reflection of the magnolia, I realised social distancing was present even here. coincidence? perhaps. Each branch holding its own, distanced from the other. This was not a planned composition.

Magnolia.

The form of the magnolia, simplicity at its best. Life was being brought to its simplest routines, the basics, essential shopping, limited contacts only the vulnerable. Which I did have to travel twice a week to my mam in Dublin as carer. It brought home how little we need to live an enriching life, food, shelter, loved ones, health. The magnolia represents hope, the hope that there is always hope. The bud will appear and will flower, it takes its time but it will appear. We gotta trust and believe and just give it the best conditions.  Life will return to normal, I do believe, it will take time and some new ways of going about our daily business. We got to support each other, look after those who need us including our own self care. My art practice is my self care.

I am thoroughly delighted to have been awarded this time, to be honest it was always there I suppose but to be given the opportunity to give myself permission with a little financial security from the Arts council and the recognition from the council as an artist is also reassuring, especially in these times.

I gained insight into my use of colour and how I will incorporate the landscape within my practice and I already have plans for a larger painting, just need to get out of this new lockdown first.  I will post a video on Instagram and show the work discussing the process.

Emerging hope, watercolour, oil, pencil.

This was a very rewarding process and I am very thankful for the support of the Arts Council of Ireland.

Stay safe, be kind.

Bernadette

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