Artist’s work visits Donegal magic and mystery

Artist’s work visits Donegal magic and mystery
Artist Ann Quinn has her studio in the middle of Dublin, minutes away from O’Connell Street, which she has compared to “a river of people”.

Artist Ann Quinn has her studio in the middle of Dublin, minutes away from O’Connell Street, which she has compared to “a river of people”.

But she can shut out the bustle of the city when she closes the door of her studio behind her. And when she does, her mind and her work are often drawn to her home place in east Donegal.

Ann has shown her work in a number of exhibitions this year. Most recently she took part in “The Third Place: An Exhibition of Contemporary Art from Donegal”, an overview of Donegal’s fine art community that was part of this year’s Earagail Arts Festival.

Also in July, Ann was one of three artists whose work was shown at the Claremorris Gallery, County Mayo, in the exhibition, “Still Places”.

This year she had a residency at Cill Rialaig Artist Residency for Artists and Writers in Kerry, and received a fellowship to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in the States. She is currently working towards a two-person exhibition at Mullan Gallery in Belfast next year.

Ann’s atmospheric landscapes capture the magic and mystery of the locations she paints. She has travelled widely, spending time in South East Asia, Central America, Iran, East Africa, India and Europe, and uses those experiences in her work. She will have three recent paintings based on the Iranian landscape at the Summer Exhibition of the Taylor Galleries in Dublin, which runs through August.

Still, many of her paintings are set in and around her home place of Listannagh, a rural community about half-way between Raphoe and St. Johnston. Speaking to “The Arts Show” on WRFM Westport Radio, Ann said her family’s farm is at the bottom of Binnion hill, with “endless rolling fields right along into the horizon”.

She recalled watching the bus to Dublin on the horizon, appearing as just a little speck in the distance. “It always made me conscious of distance and a sense of space,” Ann told “The Arts Show”. “It made me always conscious of what’s beyond the horizon.”

When she attended the National College of Art and Design in Dublin at age 19, where she earned a BA (Hons) degree in Fine Art, Painting, she was “ready to see what was out there beyond -- where did that bus disappear?” she said.

In The Sunday Times Culture Magazine, Cristín Leach Hughes wrote: “Inspired by her childhood in rural Donegal, her landscapes are tinged with memory and personal associations. She paints silage under black plastic in the snow, a cockerel bowing his head to a pinkening sky, swans swimming on a dark lake, and trees seen through rain on a window pane.”

Ann “paints with a lucid intensity that gives her compositions the unsettling quality of a dream”, Cristín wrote.

Ann told “The Arts Show” that she likes to balance abstraction and realism in her work. “I’m always hovering between the two,” she said.

Still, she said there is an autobiographical aspect, something she has experienced, and a story behind each of her paintings. “It’s almost like a diary,” she said.

The interview in full can be heard at Ann’s web site,