Sunday 21 January 2018

What Lies Beneath: Iceberg by Michelle Considine

Iceberg by Michelle Considine, Oil on canvas, Courtesy the artist and the RHA

Iceberg by Michelle Considine
Iceberg by Michelle Considine

Niall MacMonagle

Talking rubbish, yet again Eamon Ryan makes perfect sense: there are already 150 million tons of plastic in our seas. And every minute we are dumping another truckload of the stuff. Another warning sign of a threatened planet is that one of the largest icebergs ever - one trillion tons of it, over 600ft thick, covering 2,500 square miles - has just broken away. Bye, bye, Antarctica... And it's all our fault.

Growing up in Malahide, Michelle Considine walked through the castle forests and by the sea on her way to school and she always had "a real interest in the environment."

Her paintings feature landscapes, seascapes, and her imagery, she says, "is often otherworldly and has touched on topics such as wildfires, deforestation, severe weather, ice shifts".

Painting something "makes us look deeper at it" and an image, for Considine, as in this work, can be seen "as a thing of beauty or a thing of tragedy or both". She spent time in Iceland because "I wanted to get as close to a landscape that was forever active and changing, and Iceland being above two parting tectonic plates was hugely inspiring, and the Icelandic people - now and historically - have a huge respect for the earth, which was invigorating to be around." That icebergs are 90pc hidden from view is also significant: "the consequences of climate change are unseen by most people yet have a huge influence on our entire planet."

Does she despair? "People's awareness is increasing, I see hope in the Paris Agreement, even after the US's departure, but a lot more needs to be done."

Humans, she deliberately excludes from her work. "The pieces are a reflection on what surrounds humans." She highlights "these great, formidable spaces" and in Iceberg used "viridian green and Prussian blue, which give beautiful, transparent glazes when used with an oil medium. Touches of cadmium yellow, the pale in the whites, to give a glow to the ice; Payne's grey, magenta and cyan are there too."

By 2050 we'll have more plastic than fish in our seas. Trump's in denial; Eamon Ryan is wide awake. Considine's challenging Iceberg is on show at the RHA until August 12. It's the coolest thing there...

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