Wednesday 23 October 2019

What Lies Beneath: Light at the Top of the Hill by Kate Beagan

Light at the Top of the Hill by Kate Beagan

Oil on canvas. Courtesy The Doorway Gallery, Dublin

Light at the Top of the Hill by Kate Beagan
Light at the Top of the Hill by Kate Beagan

Niall MacMonagle

Kate Beagan and her twin sister were the youngest in a family of eight and "like most large families, the youngest are generally ignored and left to our own devices. That's when I started drawing and painting". And when she was 12, "all my Christmases came at once when my brother Joe bought me a set of oil paints".

That same year she won a Texaco Art Award and at school, her art teacher, Sister Enda, was "a major influence". Then, a fine art course at Galway IT was the plan - but "my brother Tom died in an accident just after Christmas. It took me quite a while to get back on track".

Beagan grew up in Donaghmoyne, Co Monaghan, worked in Galway and Dublin, and "straight after I got married we emigrated to Australia. Both my girls were born there and it was there I decided to become a full-time artist. And I was lucky to get the opportunity to study with Robert Wade and Colley Whisson."

When she returned to Monaghan 10 years later, "it took me years to appreciate my own home place". But from taxiing kids to "different events all over the place", the country roads, the trees, the fields, the sky took hold.

And she learned to love "the low and moody light. Monaghan is drumlin country so the light shifts and moves all the time."

Light at the Top of the Hill is a spot Beagan knows well. The narrow road, the slanting, wooden telegraph poles, the wires, the old walls. It is now but it could be years ago. And those atmospheric trees?

"I am no longer looking to paint a perfect tree. I want the essence of what a tree really is." The viewer is looking west, "just before the sun sets and a storm is brewing", and for Beagan "a sky sets the story so I tend to emphasise the dramatic effect that it plays on the work".

Her paintings do not feature people. "When humans are in a painting they tend to be the main focus and steal the drama". The crooked signpost says St Patrick's Church but the painting directs us towards the light and that glorious blaze of emerald green and yellow.

'The Virtue of Light', new work by Kate Beagan at The Doorway Gallery until March 28 Instagram: katebeaganartist; www.katebeaganartist.com

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