Somedays the Worry Can Be Too Much
For Aoife Scott, from Howth, her world was an art world from the beginning. Her parents met at NCAD: her father studied printed textile design, her mother studied woven textile – and young Aoife loved going to exhibitions and museums with them. Aged eight, Scott knew she “wanted to go to art college, specifically NCAD.”
In the Scott household “birthday cards and Christmas cards were handmade and some of my fondest memories are of all of us sitting around the kitchen table with blank card, rolls of wrapping paper, paint, stencils, glitter.”
At primary and secondary, Scott was “best in the class at art”, she had Ms Cassidy for Leaving Cert – a “fantastic” art teacher – but at NCAD ended up “in the middle of the class”. Her confidence “got knocked a good bit and I had to work hard to get back to the top”.
"My parents were very encouraging, but also quite hard on me. They never told me they liked anything. Instead they would critique the work or just say nothing, stayed mute until the work was exhibited. Today they just hold back as they don’t want to influence me at all.”
At first, Scott thought she had “more of a design head” but “the pressure of looking great in fashion and textiles was just too much for me” and she opted for fine art. “I just preferred to rock the ‘ink smeared across my forehead’ look, and fine art print suited me best.”
Her ‘Somedays the Worry Can Be Too Much’ (acrylic, pastel and concrete on canvas) was made this year – and though the work is vibrant and the colours beautiful, the title is unsettling.
“I am a year-round sea swimmer, and the sea offers me an escape from an anxiety I struggle with every day. Most of the time the cold water takes my mind off everything else and I become totally present in the given moment – but sometimes the anxiety can be too overpowering and even the sea can’t help: the worry and anxiety are almost swimming alongside of me or in front of me.
"The large blue burst of energy, anxiety, represents the negative thoughts and worries following me in the water.”
This work began with “pouring and splashing watered-down acrylic paint while looking out at the rough sea in Loughshinny” because Scott wanted “to capture the energy and power of the sea along with its subtlety and translucency”.
“Some of the marks I make are purely intuitive and almost come from the subconscious, while others are more considered and controlled. I like this juxtaposition and the push and pull of the two.”
Though drawn to all colours, Scott’s favourite has always been blue, but “at the moment I am loving the combination of light turquoise blue beside an acid lemony green”.
Her day begins with a short walk around Malahide Park, then breakfast, then a morning swim. She works late in her studio in Loughshinny Boathouse, drinks lots of tea and listens to music and A Brush With Art podcasts (and especially enjoyed the Jenny Saville episode).
Being Irish is important. Though Dublin-born, she says she is “a woman of the west”. Her grandparents are from Gweedore and “I’ve spent time in Cork and Kerry, surfing, swimming, mountain running.”
Next summer she plans to move west to Connemara where “the Atlantic and the mountain tops give me calm, energy and purpose.”
Aoife Scott, Collide: New Work, Fumbally Stables, Dublin, November 19-26. aoifescott.ie; Instagram: @aoifescott
John Shinnors’s deliberately small colour range has never diminished the power captured within his distinctive style of work, central to which are pattern and light. His current show – 12 New Paintings – in Waterford’s Gallery of Modern Art features titles ‘Long Black Train’, ‘Child Crossing’, ‘Cathedral Plc’, ‘St John’s Point Lighthouse’, ‘Washing’ – and the brighter, more vibrant palette of these paintings marks a new development for the Limerick-born artist.
Gallery of Modern Art, Waterford, until November 21
Mayo-born Helen Hughes studied at Chelsea College of Art and at IADT, and her sculptural work is a commentary on consumerism and mass production. Her new show ‘And Yes, Daydreamer SurRender’ presents deflated, semi-collapsed, propped and precariously balanced sculptural objects and uses and uses them to convey the feeling of alienation experience by all during Covid.
Roscommon Arts Centre, until January 15