Butler Gallery was delighted to present Twenty Eight Acres, an exhibition of new works on paper by Kilkenny-based visual artist Eamon Colman. Colman has spent many years walking the length and breadth of the Twenty Eight Acres, a site located along the Castlecomer Plateaux in north County Kilkenny where mining began in the mid-17 th Century with the extraction of iron ore. In later years, coal deposits were found beneath the shale and these were to form the basis of the coal mining industry in the area which lasted for over 300 years. The Twenty Eight Acres site was used as a slag heap for spoils from the coal mines but has, over time, transformed itself into a meadow that is infused with wildflowers such as Irish orchids.
Colman’s extensive walks includes note-taking that informs his practice when he returns to the studio. He describes himself as a landscape painter, but does not represent what he sees, rather he presents what he feels within the landscape. That said, the intricate shapes of manmade and natural objects find their way into the composition of these paintings. Sustainable living is extremely important to Colman who is a proponent of rewilding gardens, starting with his own garden—a magical place in the Kilkenny upland countryside—where he has planted many indigenous trees.
Colman begins by making his own paint using raw organic pigment. Then much time goes into the making of his handmade Momigami paper which is a “kneaded paper” in Japanese. The paper is built up layer upon layer with other materials, such as medical gauze, and then sanded to “within an inch of its life” creating a porous surface. Colman uses paper as a way of sharing the fragility of the landscape (and of himself), revealing its holes and its jagged edges. The palette employed is rich with pinks, lemons, purples and blues with inky blacks largely used for strong graphic mark-making. Colman admits to being a born romantic, wanting his paintings to have a beauty, but also admitting that “all beauty is damaged in some way”. The tension between Culture and Nature lies at the heart of the work.
Colman’s titles reveal each painting’s own individual story. Echoes from Time, is an outstanding example of a painting that has been worked on for over five years and has the bearing of a life lived. Most of these works are self-contained diptychs presented in clear Perspex boxes that allow us to fully appreciate the bold juxtapositions of colour, shape, texture and edges of these striking new works on paper.
Watch the Artist talk with Eamon Colman and Anna O'Sullivan here:
About the Artist
Eamon Colman was born in Dublin in 1957 and has lived and worked in County Kilkenny since 2003. He is an elected member of Aosdána since 2007 in recognition of his major contribution to Irish culture. His professional career spans from 1979, having created forty- four solo exhibitions presented nationally and internationally. In 1997, he was invited to host a major mid-term retrospective exhibition of his work entitled ‘Post Cards Home’ at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin at the age of 39 years. This was accompanied by a monograph on his work by writer and art critic Brian Mc Avera entitled 'Dreams from The Lion’s Head, The Work of Eamon Colman’ published by Four Fields Press. A 25-year retrospective of his work is featured in a substantial publication by Gandon Editions, Kinsale: ‘Profile 25 – Eamon Colman’ (2006). In 1989, he won the First Prize Painting Award in EVA International; in 2001 First Prize Painting Award in Eigse, Carlow Arts Festival; in 2002, he was the first Irish artist to be awarded Full Fellowship Award from the Vermont Studio Centre, USA; in 2005, he won a CCAT Interreg Major Award for touring an exhibition in Wales, UK and in 2018 he was awarded a Culture Ireland GB18 Award. His work has been included in many international exhibitions representing contemporary Irish art, currently in Woven Fine Grain at Sasse Museum, Los Angeles, USA curated by Ciara Hambly, and recently in Ground Zero 360, BUH Museum, Texas, USA. Previous exhibitions were in Brussels, Denmark, France, Spain, the UK, Hong Kong, Canada and the USA.
Colman’s work is represented in many major public collections including The National Gallery of Ireland; The Arts Council of Ireland; The Danish Arts Council; The Office of Public Works - Government Collection; The Irish Museum of Modern Art (Gordon Lambert Collection); Tralee Regional Technical College; Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast; AIB Bank; Bank of Ireland; Ulster Bank; KPMG; Smurfit Ireland Grp.; Citibank; Deutsche Bank; Arthur Anderson; Fyffes Ireland; Delta Airlines; De Vere’s private collection and various private collections worldwide.
Colman is represented by Solomon Fine Art, Dublin, Ireland, Hambly & Hambly, UK and Stern Studio Gallery, Vienna, Austria.
Screening: 'A man - A place', a film by Kevin Hughes charting Colman’s walks on the Twenty Eight Acres will be shown in our Digital Gallery throughout the run of the exhibition.
Works from this exhibition are available to purchase. For sales enquiries, please contact Anna O'Sullivan, Director.
e: [email protected]
Butler Gallery, Evans' Home, John's Quay, Kilkenny