Tuesday 25 June 2019

What lies beneath: Purple Lake

Purple Lake: by Deirdre Crowley, oil stick and pastel on card, courtesy of the artist and OPW

Purple Lake by Deirdre Crowley
Purple Lake by Deirdre Crowley

Niall MacMonagle

An elephant can dance on a thimble but it happens only in our imaginations. The same goes for Miriam O'Callaghan and David McCullagh dancing a tango as the studio darkens and the Prime Time credits roll. Ah, go on, it would make our night after all that political argy-bargy . . . . And lakes are grey or black or greeny blue. But in our mind's eye we can picture a purple one.

Bandon-born Deirdre Crowley certainly imagined a purple lake for this exuberant 1996 work. Landscape is her thing; growing up in West Cork, her inspiration.

"No matter where I have travelled, this is the place that inspires me, surprises me the most and I want to communicate my love for it."

Having exhibited in Dublin, London and San Francisco, she now shows her work exclusively in her own gallery at 17 Pearse Street, Clonakilty.

"This is wonderful because I now get to meet the people who connect with and buy my work."

Crowley's work is what she terms an "emotional and spiritual response to what I see and feel. She loves drawing outside: "being outside is like meditating, I feel connected. Drawing with oil pastel is like working with butter; chalk pastels crumble a lot but are very immediate. My drawings are the quickest way of capturing the brain-to-hand excitement of what I see. And it is the only thing I leave in the world after me." But her preferred medium is oil on canvas.

"I love oil paint, its smell, texture and sensuous nature, I think it loves me too and we work well together, I feel we know each other really well at this stage and when we get together, we sing!"

Purple Lake, from the Office of Public Works (OPW) Collection, was inspired by lakes real and imagined. Lough Hyne, just beyond Skibbereen, is where Crowley loves to swim.

"I was living in Northern Ireland at the time, away from water and space, so in hindsight I look at it and can see that while the water is contained, there is something dreamy and aspirational about it. My energy, my spirit is in everything I make." Just jump in.

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