Ireland has a strong and prominent history of visual artists and I will present some of them in this article I have written for Baroque||Urban. Many whom have delivered their works to all corners of the world. But the female artists of my country have stormed the art world with their talent and success. Considering the time and place that they lived in, and the challenges they faced as women, they still managed to put their stamp on the world of visual art and it’s progression, giving Ireland the recognition it deserves as a country of culture, creativity and artistic genius. Here are a few female Irish artists I felt inspired by that I believe deserves recognition in my discussion on prominent Irish artists.
Mary Harriet “Mainie” Jellett
Mary Jellett, or commonly known as “Mainie” Jellett, was born in Dublin in 1897. She was a strong and extremely talented visual artist in the impressionist style.
After her studies at the Westminster Technical Institute in London, she moved to Paris where she worked under André Lhote and Albert Gleizes exploring non representational art and also encountering cubism. Jellett was a devout Catholic, but her works never directly represented anything religious or holy. Instead, they often resembled icons and a lot of her pieces had religious titles. A lot of her paintings mainly centred around an “eye”, with ecstatic and energetic colour growing from this “eye”.
Jellett proved to have an incredible understanding of light and colour in her works. She was an extremely important figure in the world of 19th century abstract European art.
Nano Reid was born in Drogheda in 1900. She was first and foremost a landscape painter but was also a figure painter and portraitist.
She was successful in being awarded a scholarship to study Fine Art at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art under world renowned stained glass artist and illustrator Harry Clarke. According to a colleague of hers, she was “uncompromising and looking for truth.” One of her greatest achievements was exhibiting internationally at the Guggenheim International Award Exhibition in New York in 1960 and also represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale.
Reid was saluted as a genius in her field and as an individualistic, expressionistic artist, regarded as one of the finest female Irish painters to have ever lived.
Sarah Purser was born in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin in 1848 but was raised in Dungarvan, Waterford. She spent a lot of her youth studying abroad in Switzerland and Paris. After her father’s business failed, she decided to make a living as an artist.
Purser was the first female member of the highly esteemed Royal Hibernian Academy and was highly noted for her astounding work as a stained glass and portrait artist. She founded her own stained glass workshop An Túr Gloine in 1903. She was a highly sought after stained glass artist that saw her work being commissioned as far as New York
A Sarah Purser stained glass window makes up the fantastic display of stained glass art in Christ Church Cathedral in New York City. She was noted for being incredibly successful in gaining commissions. She even commented herself that she “went through the British aristocracy like the measles.”
She was extremely active in the Dublin art scene at the time and became very wealthy through her commissions and investments in the Dublin Guinness Storehouse. She also helped in setting up the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery to exhibit more of Dublin’s artists which were becoming more recognised with her help. She spent her final years hosting large parties in her home, Mespil House, for Dublin’s writers and artists.
Pauline is a living Irish artist, born in 1935. She was born in England but originates from Ireland. She spent a lot of her youth moving between Ireland and England, but later settled in Ireland and studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin.
Bewick produced many illustrations for various books and magazines while studying at the National College of Art and Design. She mostly paints in oils but she also sculpts and also works with cloths. She is known for illustrating for different children’s animated television series’. Although she sculpts, paints in oils and illustrates, she is mostly known for her work in watercolours. Now at 80 years of age, she has published her autobiography 80: A Memoir.
Daphne Wright was born in 1963 in Ireland. She is a highly regarded visual artist in Ireland. In 2011, she was elected a member of the Aosdána, The Arts Council, an organisation that was created to honour artists and their work that has made a significant and profound contribution to the world of arts in Ireland.
Daphne describes her own work as “relentless curiosity”. She experiments with a wide range of media while creating her pieces, including casting, masking, sound recordings, filmmaking and drawing. Her eye-catching and elegant works often represent and explore literature, prayer, song, ageing and death. She also incorporates performance and printmaking with her works, making her a well rounded and adventurous artist.
She has received globally recognised awards and fellowships such as the Henry Moore Foundation fellowship from Manchester Metropolitan University and the Paul Hamlyn award, 1996.
Helen Brady is an art student from Ireland, who visited Timisoara for 3 weeks and had an internship at META Spațiu. The main focus of this exchange programme, in collaboration with Asociatia pentru Promovarea Femeii din Romania, through Erasmus, was our annual art event Baroque||Urban, that takes place in Timisoara.