Tuesday 17 September 2019

What Lies Beneath: Through Reeds - Edenderry by Willie Redmond

Through Reeds - Edenderry by Willie Redmond, Acrylic on canvas, courtesy of the artist

Through Reeds - Edenderry by Willie Redmond
Through Reeds - Edenderry by Willie Redmond

Niall MacMonagle

February's here, "Anois teacht an Earraigh" and how we cherish that stretch in the evening, brighter days, the promise of summer. Through Reeds - Edenderry, by Dublin-based Offaly man Willie Redmond, celebrates that fresh and beautiful world.

He's painted city parks, the coastline in all seasons but "the midlands remain my strongest inspiration. Offaly was my initial imagery, my exposure to the possibilities in art". Growing up, "our house was a hive of activity. My father, a carpenter, was always tipping away at something. My mother, dressmaker and hairdresser, constantly had a creative streak".

A hands-on house. Constable's The Hay Wain and a Sacred Heart hung on the wall, a large Bible with coloured plates "opened a curious child to world art museums" and "outside we had fields, quarries, ponds, rivers, the Grand Canal, bogs". Fishing, turf cutting and "a constant surround of dress patterns, sewing machines, tools and workbenches", and his parents' work ethic stood Redmond in good stead. "They managed us but never controlled us and encouraged us all the way." Self-taught, Redmond has had 15 solo shows, 25 group shows, and shows on Merrion Square railings at weekends.

"Paint what you know and the passion comes through," says Redmond. Landscapes, waterscapes interest him but "light, movement, shade, mood make everything so engaging. Take a crisp, clear bright morning. By midday, it is clouding over and late in the day grey, lead-belly sky lit by low sunlight creates a different mood. Combine this with water surfaces and an endless combination of results occur". He paints en plein air "for depth", back in the studio "finer details are applied".

For this work, featuring a stretch of the Grand Canal, Redmond chose a circle for "a calming focal feel" and the double perspective is doubly engaging. "An effect I discovered while looking through clear perspex rulers at school and at a mirror with side panels."

Raindrops in the left panel, still water on the right, "a glimmer of reflected sky, yellow water lily, bulrush, arrowhead, waterweed, wild iris, rushes and reflected ash tree" dazzle in a painting that makes the world go round.


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