Wexford People

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Poetry in painting

'Cutting the Lake, an anthology', an exhibition of recent work by the artist, writer and musician Helen Gaynor will open at the Creative Hub in Bullring Mall in Mallin Street (opposite Wexford Library) on Saturday, July 13, at 7pm.

Her title painting 'Cutting the Lake' (she also has a poem of the same name) began as a play on water - the memory of light on water in the south of France, blended with the annual cutting of the island lake in Our Lady's Island.

She returned to it later and focused on the memory of a painting by the artist Peter Doig, an image of a canoe cutting through the water, and on how lines in painting can cut through in decisive and impactful ways.

Helen said it was on first seeing paintings by Peter Doig in 2000 that she understood her compulsion to paint, even though she had graduated five years earlier from the National College of Art and Design in Fine Art, Painting.

She was in awe of Doig's lyrical handling of the medium of paint and the other-worldly quality to his figurative work.

It referenced landscape, though he is not a landscape artist, and showed recognisable scenes, while having dream-like and ambiguous qualities. His paintings took the mind to far-off and forgotten places and that is the lure, according to Helen.

'For me, painting is mostly about colour, pigment and mark, but very much about dreaming. Works begin with some reference to the real, but my process allows for, indeed relies on, things that are neither possible, rational nor real.'

After graduating from UCD with an MA in Creative Writing, it became obvious in time, that there was a crossover between ideas in her poetry and what crept into her paintings, and vice versa.

'I began to think of paintings as visual poems. Though sharing a thread, the poems of an anthology can be very different to each other in both form and style, a realisation that liberated me in painting,' said Helen.

The painting evolves in the making but evolves further in the viewing. That is why the audience is so important.

Helen said that, ultimately, she plans to produce a book that marries the poetic texts with the painted images, a large undertaking that she hopes will allow a more detailed exploration of the connections and dialogue between the two media.

The Creative Hub exhibition represents a significant portion of this grand undertaking.

The exhibition will run in the public space and Helen's studio until August 15. The opening times are Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Wexford People