Derry today.


CCA - ‘Celebration Factory’ by Filip Markiewicz. Huge drawings and impressive array of work.


Fragmented’ by Aimee Melaugh in the Gasworks. Such a beautiful space. Can’t think of anyone who paints atmosphere and smoke like she can.

Joseph McWilliams “ Community Door ” 1976 part of the “ Troubles Art ” exhibition in   Nerve Visual  .

Joseph McWilliams “Community Door” 1976 part of the “Troubles Art” exhibition in Nerve Visual.


Work submitted to the   RHA   open call.

Work submitted to the RHA open call.

Detail of a piece by   Cecilia Danell   - part of her solo show “ In a Landscape ” in the RHA.

Detail of a piece by Cecilia Danell - part of her solo show “In a Landscape” in the RHA.


Royal Academy - Renaissance Nude exhibition was great. Highlights were Pontormo’s “Study of a Nude Boy”, Dürer’s etchings, creepy little paintings by Hans Memling and, of course, Titian’s Venus.

National Gallery - “Rokeby Venus” by Velazquez is just an unbelievable painting! Real surprise was being moved by Caravaggio’s “Boy bitten by a lizard”. Came out of nowhere. Loved how the two Rembrandt portraits faced each other in their room. A conversation? “The Ambassadors” by Hans Holbein the Younger. Great to see it in the flesh finally. So many great works - probably could have stayed in there all week.


“Brighton Pierrots” by Walter Richard Sickert.

“Brighton Pierrots” by Walter Richard Sickert.

Went to Tate Britain and was annoyed that many of the works I had been looking forward to seeing were out of view for refurbishment. However it was great to see some other great pieces, including Sickert’s “Brighton Pierrots”.

View from   Tate Modern  .

View from Tate Modern.

Bonnard show was incredible. Wish it wasn’t as crowded to spend more time with the work. The self portraits were anxious and sinister. Preferred Franz West ’s collages to the sculptures.



Just shy of forty miles walked.

Sean Scully documentary.


Horrible day in the studio. What’s done can be rectified thankfully but I’m not sure what brought it about.

  • Not enough looking?

  • Charging in?

  • Carelessness?

  • Fatigue?

  • All of the above?

Note for “Rose”: Less is more.




Still no word - need to not get hopes up.


“Ruins” detail.

“Ruins” detail.

Office wall.

Office wall.

Tried and failed at sketching.


Sketchbook work.

Sketchbook work.


Eventually in the studio… “ Ruins ” is still an exciting composition so not sure why it’s stagnated.

Eventually in the studio… “Ruins” is still an exciting composition so not sure why it’s stagnated.

“The Lost Woods Study” close up.

“The Lost Woods Study” close up.


So - “Ruins” has ground things to a halt. Can’t say it is entirely the painting’s fault but it has eaten a lot of time where I’d be working on multiple pieces simultaneously.

I’m not abandoning it completely. Just setting it out of sight and out of mind until I’m in a better position to complete it to the best of my ability.

“The continuous practice of painting is a process against forgetting.”

Hans Ulrich Obrist


Night shot.

Night shot.


Some good drawing tonight.

Some good drawing tonight.


Studio work. “ Rose ” face is all but there.

Studio work. “Rose” face is all but there.


Dublin bound.

IMMA Freud Project: Gaze was stunning. “Relfection: Self Portrait” - have wanted to see this piece in the flesh for a long long time. Interesting mix of artists alongside Freud including a Hopper sketch, a Rembrandt etching, Abramovic, Dúrer, Dorothy Cross and others. The Doris Salcedo show “Acts of Mourning” was intense. Moved by “Plegoria Muda” and “Tabula Rasa” pieces the most. For the past week that has been in NI, we all need little blades of hope. Group show “A Vague Anxiety” was great, particularly the work of Saidhbhín Gibson (sculptures) and Susanne Wawra’s incredible paintings.


Scam emails- beware!



Mountain walk with Jan and Rogue.

Mountain walk with Jan and Rogue.

“I think of drawing as a way of getting information and really learning to understand imagery.” - Cecily Brown

Anna Bjerger has a corner filled with ten years of old books / magazines. There’s usually nothing new but it’s about looking at imagery time and again to see if anything jumps out.


You need to have a genuine feeling for an image.


Two large canvases. Diptych idea?




Found in a car park.

Found in a car park.

Nothing done is also nothing ruined.




If it is to be it will come again.

London is happening in April. Can’t wait!


Idea for a painting: “The To and Fro of Indecision”.

Sketchbook work tonight. Looking at old paintings from second year in University.

Sketchbook work tonight. Looking at old paintings from second year in University.


Boiler suit

Boiler suit

If you look a little longer you will see things that have always been there but not in the same context as before. I’ve started looking a little closer at drawings that have been transferred onto acetate and pairing them off with others that I normally wouldn’t have previously.



Christening + St Lurach’s ruins. This is the biggest canvas I’ve tackled in a long time.

Christening + St Lurach’s ruins. This is the biggest canvas I’ve tackled in a long time.

“Organised Forgetting”

Paint went well today - generally just blocking so it’s not too tasking. Colours - light v dark. Which elements of the image come to the fore and what fights to be heard.


Meaningless vote.

Chris Ofili’s “No Woman No Cry” - canvas rested on 2 heaps of elephant dung covered in a transparent resin.

Sculpture ideas - photos stacked like a house of cards. On panels?



Trip to Newtownards and Belfast today.

The Ards Art Centre’s Georgian gallery space is stunning! So much light! Really interesting work by   Katrina Cobain   on show.

The Ards Art Centre’s Georgian gallery space is stunning! So much light! Really interesting work by Katrina Cobain on show.

Stunning work by   Alana Barton   in the Black Box.

Stunning work by Alana Barton in the Black Box.

Pauline Rowan  ’s photography was the stand out work for me in the latest instalment of   Golden Thread’s “Dissolving Histories” series.

Pauline Rowan’s photography was the stand out work for me in the latest instalment of Golden Thread’s “Dissolving Histories” series.




Really struggling to get motivated.

The act of drawing has stagnated. If you cut off the source how do you expect the river to flow?

Even working on other imagery (drawings) when painting something else is bound to have positive repercussions?


Took a while to get going. Not really focusing on one task but I think that’s good sometimes.

A little experiment

A little experiment


Been thinking a lot about potential sculptural ideas recently. Give it a whirl?


Sketchbook work

Sketchbook work


“Shooting the Darkness” documentary on RTÉ was fascinating insight from photojournalists who were front line witnesses to some of the most horrific atrocities during the Troubles.

2018 in Photos













Exhibition Highlights 2018

These five exhibitions are in chronological order and are only my favourites of the shows I was able to attend in person. There were many that I was dying to see but in the end, couldn’t make.


Curated by Colin Darke

QSS Gallery, Belfast

02/02/18 - 22/02/18

This was the fourth group show curated by Colin Darke that was based upon the four titles of Barnett Newman paintings (“Whose Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue”). According to the text accompanying the exhibition, linking works in accordance with colour “allows for a level of visual cohesion, while retaining the conceptual and aesthetic diversity that defines Queen Street Studios”. Ordinarily white, in a gallery context, inhabits the space between works. In this show however you become strangely aware of the normally silent walls. In Craig Donald’s installation “Ozymandias” sections of the gallery wall are set centre stage; framed by colours that correlate in other drawings and paintings within the installation. You become aware of the void.

Nightfall - amplissium terrarum tractum

David Godbold

Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast

03/02/18 - 10/03/18

This group exhibition by David Godbold in the Golden Thread Gallery really was a stunner. In gallery one, the works that give the name of the show, “Nightfall - Amplissium terrarum tractum” takes up an entire wall. Consisting of 116 framed drawings and a wall drawing in neon, I found myself getting drawn into the gorgeous and witty drawings usually accompanied with text loaded with humour and a certain political sting. Then all of a sudden I would walk backwards, trying to take in the sheer audacious scale of the work as a whole. I was especially taken by the drawing with the text "Infamy, infamy, everybody’s got it in for me” - a one liner from “Carry on Cleo” which my dad regularly cries aloud. Gallery two sees landscapes, beautifully painted and paired off with one in daylight and the other at night. Showing these romantic locations at different times of the day means you can never fully see the region in its entirety.

Future Perfect - Contemporary Art from Germany

Curated by Angelika Stepken and Philipp Ziegler

The Model, Sligo

06/05/18 - 01/07/18

During a summer break down to Sligo it would have been rude not to visit some of the galleries. This travelling group show did not disappoint. Sixteen artists envision and speculate about the future and reflect on the promises it could bring. The installation of Nora Schultz called “Discovery of the Primitive” reminded me of a transportable monolith like the one in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Schultz gathers found objects from around her Berlin studio to assemble these delicate structures that also double as printmaking stations. It dominated the room and sticks in the memory. Antje Majewski’s paintings were impressive in scale and in detail. The lengthy title “Decorative element that once adorned a passage leading to a shrine” was a large circular painting consisting of smaller overlapped orbs of differing gold and green. The same ‘decorative element’ makes a cameo in the even larger painting - more akin to history painting of old. “The Donation” sees a large group of people witnessing an exchange in what looks like a gallery with warped dimensions and off kilter paintings on the wall.

At the gates of the Music Palace

Alex Cecchetti

Curated by Mary Cremin

VOID Gallery, Derry-Londonderry

04/08/18 - 22/09/18

I was lucky enough to see this show on the opening night where the artist Alex Cecchetti was giving a guided tour of the works. A serial collaborator almost all of the works came to fruition as a result of Cecchetti working with musicians, dancers and singers. The first gallery was bathed in a pink light with two large copper cones suspended at the far end. If you move across the sensors musical notes are played and according to different gestures you can actually play music. Cecchetti and a dancer then played a piece of music they composed by dancing in front of the “Music Hall” installation. Gallery 2 held a sound installation entitled “Cetaceans” where a human choir sang like whales. This room was in darkness and you were encouraged to lay down and let the sounds wash over you. The third room had my favourite piece of collaborative work by Cecchetti. Oil paintings on crystal and rise paper hangs from a structure surrounding a piano meaning when people from the tour poured in and no matter where they stood they could see the works on the paper - even from the back where I stood. A synesthetic musician then sat at the piano and read the works like a sheet of music. Even by just watching the paintings you could follow the musician as they played and I found it totally engrossing. Probably the best show featuring audience participation I’ve seen.

Not Half Right

Jane McCormick

Atypical Gallery, Belfast

12/11/18 - 21/12/18

I stumbled into the Atypical gallery on my way to see the MAC international exhibition (which had incredible works by Ali Cherri, Aisling O’Beirn and the winner Nikolaus Gansterer) and hadn’t any preconceived notions what “Not Half Right” by Jane McCormick contained. What I came across was an incredibly strong practice that explores deeply personal and intimate issues in a scarily wide range of media. Medicine bottles with text and images of children replaced the label. A heart shaped box with tablets instead of chocolates resonated with me. It was humorous and darkly menacing at the same time. Is it a comment on today’s ‘there’s a pill for that’ culture, a love note to how medication has helped the artist or something else? You can’t help but bring your own experience to the work here. The self portrait drawings on what McCormick calls “useless articles and medically-related tat” are visceral, bold and expresses the frustrating and tiring nature of the “never ending search for ‘the cure’”.

Seven Months Later...

Slieve Gallion ('the mountain of the heights' in Gaelic) is a peak at the south end of the Sperrin mountains which straddle Derry and Tyrone in the North West of Northern Ireland.  It can be seen from my home and I have fond memories of family members telling stories and singing "Slieve Gallion Braes" when growing up.

Usually the longest it would take to finish a painting would be three months.  If you include the hiatus the canvas took in March, April and part of May then from beginning to end "The Mountain of the Heights" took seven months.  I usually merge imagery but here I was unsure.  I experimented adding a mother and child image but this took away from the original image so I eventually decided the mountain needed to stand on its own.