Contemporary Irish artist inspired by Japan

Contemporary Irish artist Mary Wallace at a recent exhibition

What is kintsugi ? Wabi sabi? Ikebana? How do these concepts relate to me as a contemporary Irish artist?

Well, for me inspiration comes from ordinary things; a simple tea bowl, the Moon, a flower, a hen, a fish ... to create exquisite tea bowls with golden cracks, majestic moon jars with golden seams, exotic fruit, flamboyant hens, cockerels and other creatures.

Currently my work explores ideas inspired by the Japanese perception of beauty in imperfection, complexity in simple things and extraordinary in the everyday. Deeply imbued with symbolism and meaning - strength, and fragility, resilience, beauty, the preciousness of life -  I want to convey hope and a reassurance that things will be better.

Intrigued by Japanese culture, my work is influenced by concepts like wabi sabi (acceptance of transcience and  imperfection) and kintsugi  (repair of broken porcelain using gold).  My Precious Bowls and Moonjars evoke the idea that although broken and mended, their intrinsic beauty remains, the flaw is enhanced and given respect, and preciousness restored.


These ideas have universal appeal and as a contemporary Irish artist I want to share what I have discovered with you in a visual way.                                                  

Also being an Irish artist I like to keep my Irish heritage close too. You will find that many of my paintings are inspired by Celtic mythology and have symbolic meaning.  Irish trees, especially those like hazel and willow which  have blossoms or catkins on bare branches, have grabbed my attention.  Imagine my delight this Spring when I discovered native cherry trees growing in my own garden!  A revelation that will spur me on.  I can't wait to see it in fruit...

Have you noticed the unusual materials I use?  I relish using ancient art medium like wax encaustic, egg tempera, gold.  Sumptuous pigments suspended in beeswax paired with pure gold makes for an opulent visual experience don't you think?  Working with gold leaf is such a delicate affair.  It requires patience and practice to place that filigree just as you want it.  Sometimes I feel it has a mind of its own as the gentlest breath can cause it to flicker and fly away! 

It's hard to believe I have been painting for over twenty years now. Gosh!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 June 2020