GALLERY closings and event cancellations this year have made it more difficult than ever for working artists to connect with their audiences.
Nonetheless where there is a will, there is a way and a close view of an artist’s life will show that creativity doesn’t just stop because there’s nowhere to exhibit; and places that exhibit will work around any obstacles to bring artists and their admirers together.
In early March, just as the first lockdown seemed inevitable, painter Jacqueline O’Driscoll retreated from Cork City to self-isolate in her country home on the Beara peninsula. In the summer, she was invited to exhibit in the Kerry Visual Artists Showcase Exhibition in the Department of Heritage and Culture in Killarney. Unfortunately, this exhibition closed early due to the Covid crisis.
While it wasn’t possible to show her paintings for much of the year, the situation created space for her to delve deeper into her work. ‘It gave me time to explore some other areas I had been thinking about, so I have started experimenting with textile printing, exploring ideas of repetition and natural geometry.’
Jacqueline attended the National College of Art and Design in Dublin in the early 1980s where she studied graphic and textile design. She moved to London to build her design career, but never left the canvas far behind. She continued to paint in her free time and always exhibited.
About 20 years ago, she started renovating an old cottage on the Beara peninsula while still living and working in the UK. ‘As time went on, I began to spend more and more time there, and eventually moved back to Ireland full-time … moving back to Beara rekindled my interest in painting. Now I divide my time between Cork city and Beara.’
Just as the Beara rekindled her interest then; her environs continue to influence her work now. The series of oil paintings borne out of her seclusion is a surreal contemplation of the coast and boglands near her home – rich with layered textures and emotive contrasts.
Jacqueline likes to observe and take photos of her pastoral surroundings and then use those as a starting point back in her studio. She is also known for her abstract aerial views that reference the influence of man on the land.
When asked how the year has affected her relationship with her followers, she says it may be too early to know how these relationships have been impacted while acknowledging that social media has become much more vital as a way for artists and art lovers to stay connected.
‘The closure of galleries has had an extremely negative effect on art sales,’ says Jacqueline, ‘that is why it is important that some galleries, like Uillinn, are doing online exhibitions such as the Cork Artists Winter Showcase. It gives the work a profile and keeps everyone engaged’
To see and purchase artworks from Jacqueline O’Driscoll and other regional artists find the Cork Artists Winter Showcase at Uillinn Galleries, West Cork Arts Centre’s new online platform for supporting the arts. www.uillinngalleries.com