Overhead, 2002, Elizabeth Magill. Oil on canvas. Courtesy the artist and Wilkinson Gallery. Photography © Hugo Glendinning.
An exhibition of work by one of Ireland’s leading artists is on show at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery until April 24 2005.
The largest survey of her recent work to date, the show demonstrates how since the mid-1990s Elizabeth Magill has returned to her enduring pre-occupation with landscape painting.
However, the works are not landscapes in the traditional sense. Magill uses the genre to explore the process of painting as she works through ideas of recalling memory and place.
Station, 2003, Elizabeth Magill. Oil on canvas. Private Collection. Photography © Hugo Glendinning.
"I'm not so much painting what is there but what I imagine might be there," explains the artist. "These works are not landscapes as such, but more like suggested backdrops to how I feel, think and interpret the world."
Through deploying this technique Magill creates works that are not studied landscapes. Instead they are formed from her imagination and memory, influenced by an array of source material, from sublime landscape of the 18th and 19th centuries to 1950s kitsch.
She also takes great influence from the glens and coastline of County Antrim, Northern Ireland, where she spent most of her childhood.
Clonmany, 2001, Elizabeth Magill. Oil on canvas. Private Collection, Dublin. Photography © Hugo Glendinning.
Her method also has a great physicality. Working on the floor and splattering, Magill layers up and takes back down the paint, pouring and scraping until a form starts to reveal itself. Even the effect of the way in which paint may dry or flake-off becomes part of the image that is created.
The works on show create intriguing moments of ambiguity and although they often refer to the artist's experience of childhood, they are truly open to interpretation.
In their emptiness - the subject matter takes in empty houses, electricity pylons in vast landscapes, or open plains with a few trees – there is a real sense of isolation and lack of human life, affording the works a somewhat wistful air.