From urban to rural living

A LEADING Irish artist unveiled her first solo exhibition in a number of years in Tullamore.

A LEADING Irish artist unveiled her first solo exhibition in a number of years in Tullamore.

Patricia Hurl, a well known and respected artist, will exhibit her work, entitled ‘Topsoil’ at Aras an Chontae, until November 25 next.

The exhibition was opened on Friday, November 18, last with guest speaker Angela Jupe.

Hurl was a founding member of Temple Bar Gallery and Studios from 1986 – ’09 and a lecturer in Fine Art in the Dublin institute of Technology until her move to Ballybritt in Offaly to set up a new studio space.

For Patricia, this exhibition, her first solo in many years, is her struggle to portray an essence, in fact, a transmutation, of all that she has seen and experienced, over this past year in Ballybritt.

“The past three years found me making some big changes in my life when I left Dublin and came to live in Ballybritt. Although undoubtedly very beautiful, I find the remote landscape lonely, even frightening, especially in winter. My nose is right against the window of this dense and often misty place.

“Our house lies beside the ruins of an old O’Carroll castle, where reputedly a fierce battle was fought. A Standing Stone sits nearby, marking the spot where a chieftain was slain. This history, the dense woodlands, the night sky, and the remains of our beautiful old Ash tree which fell during a raging storm last winter, formed my thinking for this exhibition.”

The artist said for the first time since she was a child, she had time all to herself where she began to paint more slowly, to rework and use glazes.

“I began to mix my own my paint, using pigments, which prompted me to discover out how these pigments were made. This research drew me into the study of alchemy and I learnt about the Philosopher’s stone and the quest to transmute base metals into gold or silver.”

Hurl has shown work in Ireland, UK, USA, South Africa and Spain. For the past number of years she has worked in collaboration with the artist Therry Rudin in projects such as “The Sheets are Laid in Perfect Order”, West Cork Arts Centre (2006) “The Laundry Project”, as part of the Cork Cultural Capital events (2007) and “Body of Water”, Barcelona and West Cork Arts Centre (2008/9).