Bird Sanctuary in Winter by Charlotte Kelly
When you are in the presence of true artists it is clear they become the medium through which the inspiration flows. Their very essence is brought to bear on the whole work. None of them explain or make it easy for us and they call upon us to look beyond the image and bring us to another place within ourselves. In Elements of Place, an exhibition currently on show at Kenny's Gallery, Liosbán Retail Park, Tuam Road, Galway, we are called to witness the work of Leah Beggs, Joan Hogan and Charlotte Kelly through their interpretation of Connemara, the Corrib and Barna, respectively. Though the work is informed by their own experiences of the local, the quality of it ensures that it could happily take its place on the universal stage.
What Leah Beggs does superbly is that she directs us to the edge and challenges us to pull back the veil of another world that we may look at it differently.From the smaller pieces such as Land Meets Sea or Linear Landscape to the larger canvases she takes us from the ordinary world of solid matter to the essence of place. There is a wonderful stillness in her work, a sense of the spirit of the place that is her great power.
Born where the world looks out to Galway Bay and beyond, the sea was the first sound Joan Hogan heard before her birth eye ever opened to its pulse. So it is not surprising that she has been drawn to its life force. The sea is in her ear, her eye, she finds a way to capture its power, its energos on canvas and it lifts out of the deep to show itself to us. She is not afraid to use strong vibrant colours and uses them with great deftness which she balances before she hands it over to the viewer. She then lets the painting continue its life in the eye of the beholder. Through her work she brings us to the edge of ourselves.
What speaks to me in Charlotte Kelly's work is the way she gets to the core of a lived life. There is a sensed understanding of the world around her whether it is her walks in Rusheen Bay or Barna Woods and it is very clear that she has absorbed place into her veins for it just pours out with each brush stroke. What I love about her work is the contract she holds between dark and light and this has developed even further from her previous exhibitions. She brings an alchemy to her painting so that a bare canvas is transmute to gold.
It was an inspired choice to bring these three extraordinary artists together in one exhibition. They stand strongly on their own merit, but the synergy of the work together is a tour-de-force. The exhibition continues until 14th June.