Friday 20 July 2018

What Lies Beneath: Chasing the Wind II by Margo Banks

Chasing the Wind II by Margo Banks Mixed media on paper Courtesy Solomon Fine Art

Chasing the Wind II by Margo Banks
Chasing the Wind II by Margo Banks

Niall MacMonagle

Into her Clontarf garden, Margo Banks has transplanted Kerry montbretia - and wherever Dublin-born Banks goes, images and memories of Teeromoyle, in south west Kerry, go with her.

Her mother's homeplace meant summer holidays in Ballinskelligs, her father had family from Cahirciveen. Yet, in Teeromoyle itself when they visited "there was only ever a field there, no sign of the house, and the field - halfway up a mountain - had only been used for sheep as far back as I can remember. Visiting was always a kind of pilgrimage and my mother, a great storyteller, regaled us with stories".

Crows and sheep from that field have always featured in Banks's work. And hares.

"I particularly love hares, so beautiful, so removed from us. We share the same planet but that's all. It's their otherness that appeals to me."

This hare, in charcoal, pastel and acrylic, was spotted in that field in Teeromoyle, is swift and energetic, and races across the paper with ballet-like grace. Banks loves "following the paint and the accidents rather than planning it out. I am very impulsive, draw very quickly, and it either works or it doesn't. Lots of drawings end up in the bin but I still get a kick when I know a drawing is working out".

And she loves the romance of the piseog where country people wouldn't eat hare believing their grandmothers' souls had entered into them.

Aged 17, Banks, headed to Spain "on my own, without a word of Spanish", fell in love, lived in Ibiza where "there was only one hotel - but paradise, like every paradise was eventually overrun by uncontrolled tourism" - married, separated after 14 years, and at 31 returned home and brought up her three small boys.

Now on Mondays she minds her grandchildren; the other days she's in her studio, always with her Jack Russell and two cats. Her musician son's jazz provides her soundtrack, another runs a sustainable event management company, the Barcelona-based middle is doing a PhD in Fine Art, "all very independent, all their own bosses".

For Margo Banks, painting is to live the dream. Kerry sheep, bumble bees, seagulls... and first, catch your hare. That she's done. Right here.

Easter Group Show, Solomon Fine Art, until Thursday.

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