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Kennys since 1940

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Waiting, Watching, Stalking

Exhibition of Watercolour Paintings
by Clare Cryan
August 28th - September 17th 1998

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Official Opening by Clare Boylan

I have been an admirer of Clare's for many years but we didn't actually meet until 1992. We were brought together by Tom Kenny who got the brilliant idea of a book of portraits of writers by well-known artists. When Clare was assigned to me I was delighted. There was only one small problem - I didn't think that I could sit still for long enough to be painted. We accommodated for this by her decision to incorporate a picture of me with my house, my garden and my animals, and to let me go on writing in my notebook as she sketched. In the end the notebook was no more than a cover for our long and delightful summer afternoons of sitting in the garden and discussing art, books, cats, horses, men and HRT, in no particular order, although cats probably took precedence. We also went horse riding together but that is another story. Although that portrait, now in another collection, does indeed show me bent over my notebook, it somehow fails to capture the full anguish of the creative process, because we spent most of our time laughing.

Someone once said that the artist paints the picture that is hidden within the picture. This idea particularly interests me because it is what I try to do in my own writing, and perhaps the reason why there are more artists than writers among my close friends. In Clare Cryan's case she goes a little further. She takes the familiar and presents it as it might have appeared on the first day of creation. Each of the landscapes and still lifes give the viewer the feeling of never having seen the scene or the flower before, or never having looked at it properly. She brings to her work a detail and precision that clarifies and illuminates and she achieves such a unity with her subject that you almost feel she has created the scene, rather than observed it. At a previous exhibition the critic Tom O'Reilly described her watercolours as a "continuation of the legacy of the great 18th century English watercolour school" likening her structure to that of John Robert Cozens. Again and again, she has been praised for the discipline, precision and restrain of her work, but there is also a great deal of humour and warmth and a kind of spiritual quality which urges you to take a closer look at the beauty of the world. Clare herself, who admits to a fanatical devotion to the pure technique of watercolouring, is an admirer to the work of the late Mildred Butler.

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