Brú na Bóinne Visual Arts – Exhibition
“EARTHWORKS” by artist DI PATTISONVirtuoso display by English painter Di Pattison showcases an all-but-forgotten traditional artform brought right up to date. Earth Works in every sense of the term, Di’s mellow hand-ground paints are made from coloured earth. These large-scale landscape-inspired pictures make richly sensual viewing.
Sept 6th - 21st at Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre, Donore, Co Meath.
Di Pattison from Cambridge, England, has over twenty years’ experience as an artist but is presenting her unique work for the first time in Ireland.
Di collects coloured clays, soils and stones, which she prepares into pigments, grinding them with a mortar and pestle following an almost-forgotten tradition with its roots in prehistoric cave painting.
The resulting powders are bound with glue to make paint. But instead of choosing traditional linseed oil or acacia gum (used for oil paintings and watercolours respectively) Di uses modern acrylic resins. These enable her to create both translucent fine glazes and the centimetre-deep sculptural effects, which are a hallmark of her sensual contemporary images.
“The range of colours is remarkable”, commented Di. “This often surprises people. Viewers find it hard to resist these extremely tactile surfaces”.
“Natural colours are noticeably mellower than commercial paints. I grind, sift and mix them in different ways to produce cracked and crumbly, thin and runny, thick and smooth or gritty textures with gloss and matte finishes”.
“I was curious about the deepest roots of our visual cultural heritage” Di explained. “There is very little written information about pre-industrial paint-making so I experimented, using my knowledge of geology and landscape. By chance on holiday in Ireland I discovered the rare green and lilac rocks of westernmost Dingle, which completed my palette. Blue stones suitable for making paint don’t exist in the British Isles, but I can overcome that by combining my materials in a special way”.
“All the pictures showing at the Bru Na Boinne Centre are inspired by archaeological themes and sites in England, Wales and Ireland” said Di. “I visit monuments to sketch but also use archaeologists’ site plans to help design my pictures. Aerial views are key to many of my images. Using layered paint I build in low relief but also abrade and scratch the surface, expressing a personal response to each place”.
Mother Earth: Her Self-Portrait is perhaps the most conceptual piece in the show. The great pre-Christian goddess was believed to have made the earth but also actually was the earth. So I show her painting her own portrait with the earth itself. I made brushes from a rabbit’s tail and natural wool to make the piece and attached them to a palette mounted on the surface. Motifs including the classic Irish dual spiral are incorporated from prehistoric art. “It would be impossible to express this idea in any other medium” observed a visiting actor. “This is highly innovative work... stunning.”
Di’s original paintings, prints and hand-made pigments are all on sale: Mother Earth being priced at 3,500 Euro but with small pictures and prints starting at under 200 Euro. Two books by Di, one on paintmaking, another on prehistoric stonecarving, are due for publication next year.
About Di PattisonYorkshire born, has lived near Cambridge, England for over 20 years and has over 20 years experience as an artist, teacher and illustrator of heritage subjects with former clients including The National Trust, Ironbridge Gorge Museum, Bath’s roman baths and carriage museum, cathedrals, historic houses etc.
Has concentrated on painting in this style since 2002. Also writes on art with a volume on prehistoric sculpture due for publication next year. Two of Di’s previous exhibitions this year were held at the Peak District National Park Visitor Centre in Derbyshire and the Cambridge Open Studios Gallery, in England.
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