Ciel Gallery's own Emily Andress just returned from a month in Ireland as the first ever Artist in Residence at the Olive Stack Gallery. Her whirlwind experience is available in first-hand narrative on the artist in residence blog for the Olive Stack Gallery: https://exciraanddelira.wordpress.com/. Such an adventure will surely influence Andress' art and artistic process in the future. We sat down for a one-on-one chat to get the scoop!
I asked Andress how her process and approach were impacted by the residency . "I went to Ireland fully planning on painting the people of Ireland," Andress replied. " I left being completely enamored with, not only all the amazing people, but their environments, and things about them that I want to include in pieces that tell their story as well as the incredible landscapes! I have found myself painting animals more as personifications of feelings that I was experiencing."
The residency blog chronicles so many sights, people and experiences. I wondered if there were influences which were particularly memorable? "I was really fascinated by how different the light is on the west coast of Ireland." Andress immediately replied. "The clouds move so quickly and the sky is always full of them so light drops through them like big splashy drops. Its hard to explain. Everything is so green and the sky is almost turquoise in between these crazy piled up clouds. It's almost like the sun is raining on the landscape and the ground quickly absorbs it as the clouds move again."
She continued. "The people themselves are also so incredibly creative. Whether it is poetry, theatre, song writing, art, etc...its like the people of Ireland leech the creativity from the soil through their feet. It's hard to explain. There are so many layers! The people who invited us into their homes and shared their history were very meaningful. I am grateful for the opportunity to get to know them and look forward to seeing them again."
Traveling can be personally transformative. How had Andress grown as an artist as result of the residency? "Having 35 days of no responsibility other than to create art, be at the gallery 4 days a week (where I painted every day so, yeah...creating art) being inspired by my surroundings, and being around so many creative people literally has been life changing," Andress reflected. " I am approaching my painting differently. I am looking at light play differently. I am wanting to peel back layers in my portraiture to tell more of the story of the people I am painting. No matter how subtle that may be to the viewer, I am feeling a stronger connection to what I am painting."
In the future, other Ciel artists (including this Scoop reporter) will be heading to the Olive Stack Gallery for residencies. What tips does Andress have for us? "Kerry (fellow resident and Charlotte artist Kerry Lynn) and I wrote a guide for those who are coming next that Olive is sharing for basic tips," Andress said. "My biggest recommendation is to immerse yourself in the residency from the moment you set foot in Listowel. Go the the plays at St John's Theatre (and tell Vicar Joe I say hey!), spend evenings at John B Keane's pub and listen to the stories you are told. If you are lucky enough to be there when they are doing pub theatre, don't miss a single one. Get out and explore. Look at Olive's books that she sells and create a path to go and see the places she has painted. It is a walk through history. Get a roulade from Lynch's bakery across the street. You can thank me later. If you go to Killarney, find the alley where Dermott McCarthy has his tiny gallery/studio and talk to him about his work. Enjoy every single moment you are there."
"This is possibly the finest gift I have ever been given as an artist. I will be going back. Without a doubt."
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