Friday 20 September 2019

What Lies Beneath: Spring Song by Frances Ryan

Spring Song by Frances Ryan, Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Solomon Fine Art

Spring Song by Frances Ryan
Spring Song by Frances Ryan

Niall MacMonagle

Longford-born, Bangor-based Frances Ryan grew up all over the place - in Rooskey, Screen, Tubbercurry, Rathmines.

Summers were spent in Westport, her mother's birthplace, and Skibbereen, her on-the-move, garda father's hometown.

But there's nothing scattered about this beautifully composed, vibrant work. Though the eye is drawn in many directions, it is all of a piece.

With an A grade in art at Leaving Cert, Ryan wanted to go to art college but her parents were against it, "so I worked in retail and moved on to office admin. At 30, I resigned, attended IADT and graduated in 1997".

Ryan paints empty landscapes, rural and urban, but "I don't think of these locations as lonely, quite the opposite. To date, I have no desire to place a figure in my landscape, I find it a distraction. It would interfere with the atmosphere".

She's painted Barleycove, Crawfordsburn, Belclare, Skellig, Trawnarookan Strand and cacti, skunk cabbage, the voodoo lily.

"My mother's love of Kew Gardens means I visit botanical gardens, and strong memories of Sligo, especially playing in my mother's vegetable garden in Tubbercurry where I was sheltered by giant rhubarb leaves and cabbages" are important to her.

Spring and autumn are Ryan's favourite seasons. "I struggle with winter, the dark days."

This painting began last spring "when I worked in the garden under an apple tree. I love to paint outdoors, and focusing on spring and the promise of new life helps me get though the winter months".

Ryan, deaf in one ear, recently had a Bonebridge hearing implant fitted. "This has made me more aware of the beauty of birdsong and this painting celebrates the magnificent song thrush. The vivid colours express my emotional response to it."

Beginning with a blank canvas and "with no idea what the finished work will look like keeps the mystery going".

Plants are painted from life but "are worked over to give a semi-abstract appearance" and "the emotional resonance of colour" trills and brightens up dark December.

www.francesryan.com Winter Group Show at Solomon Fine Art until Sunday, December 23 at 4pm.

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