In Heterotopia we are introduced to a fantastical world neither utopian nor dystopian, where figures resembling organic fish-forms and aquatic bestial hybrids, wander through a lush and vibrant landscape, dead eyed yet theatrically surrendering to their new existence, polluted by humanity.
Myth and folklore provide me with inspiration in their references to metamorphosis and liminal worlds. These tales can be enormously cruel and moralistic but what appeals most is that there are endless possibilities for the fantastical, from deceptive banshees to metamorphosing swans, there is no sense nor reason and in that space it is possible to comment in an ambiguous way. This ambiguity appeals to me as a liminal space in itself where what I say and what I mean can be open to interpretation. Having been taught through both English and Irish, this language elasticity continues to fascinate and I enjoy the confusion that it can sometimes bring.
Alongside this philology, I am interested in the transition from appealing to repulsive, whether collecting debris on the beach to photographing mouldy coffee dregs and fag ends. This dichotomy allows me to play with the fine balance of ominous and comical and the beauty and tragedy of abject life. In my painting and print, I combine comic and disgusting elements to disguise or mask the obvious, drawing the viewer in in a way that appears initially unthreatening but leaves them with a sense of disquiet. A maggot or piece of rotting animal is given a deadpan gaze inviting you to look a little closer.
This can be read as a wider commentary on the rotten underbelly of society in which all still functions as normal. Our disregard for nature, tremendous waste and the inequality in world wealth distribution are so often served to us in multiple graphic images from news reels and media but are too familiar to prompt anything but fatigue and helplessness. In my paintings I try to subversively address these issues in a purposely deceptive way. It is this lack of connection with the natural world that has led to the mutating surrealist dreamscape that is prevalent in my work and I find inspiration in artists such as Max Ernst, Ithell Colquhoun and Hieronymus Bosch.
I build my compositions in collage and photoshop incorporating images I have collected on my phone along with netherlandish landscapes that I manipulate. I experiment with glazing medium for transparency and use a limited colour palette in acrylic which allows me to create depth, perspective and vibrancy. I employ a quick underdrawing sketch and resolve issues as I work, constantly changing and refining as I build up in layers. I see this process of accumulation is reflected in both the formations of my landscapes and in the bestial hybrids I create.