Sunday, 24 February 2013

About 'Solipsism Series'

In previous work I questioned the nature of the object as work of art, looking at the work of art as a sight for exploring issues of access and identity. I created art works in the form of paraphernalia such as greeting cards and badges, for example in ‘The Hunting Box Party’ and ‘Landscape Unions’. In this work ‘Solipsism Series’ I am questioning the nature of subject matter in the work of art as a symbolic sight for the imagination.

In this work I have taken paintings by eighteenth and nineteenth century Cork artists Nathaniel Grogan the Elder (c.1740-1807) John Butts and George Mounsey Wheatley Atkinson (1806-1884) and removed from them, via digital manipulation, what is identified as the subject matter of the paintings, for example, through the names of the paintings, in ‘Solipsism Series 6’ George Mounsey Wheatley Atkinson’s ‘Ship in Stormy Seas’  the ship has been removed and the storm has now become the main subject of the painting. The painting has been changed and now inhabits a different plain from the original, the ship is still there, but in a different form, in our mind, our imagination. The paintings have become their backgrounds, stages waiting for action.

By removing the ships from these paintings and creating an undisturbed/clear horizon I am instigating a dialogue about the gaps created in our history because of our colonial past. By changing the focus from the subject matter to the background I have created the possibility of a different space for contemplation within the painting.

Atkinson was a self-taught marine painter born in 1806 in Cobh, Co. Cork to English parents. His paintings mainly consist of ships portraits, painted from sea level with a sensitive handling of the seascape. They symbolise for me a particular relationship Cork Harbour has with its colonial past. This relationship is evident in the fact that, the crucial role played by Cork Harbour in winning the War at Sea against German U-Boats during the First World War under the control of the British Navy and commanded by Admiral Lewis Bayly from the Admiralty House in Cobh remains unacknowledged in Cobh today, this is particularly evident as the town asserts a burgeoning tourist industry against a backdrop of commemorations, such at the sinking’s of the Titanic 1912 and Lusitania 1915.

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