Exhibition of Abstract Paintings
by Anne Maire Dowdican
6th - 26th June 2003
Opening Speech by Mavis Thomson, A.R.U.A
"Good Evening Ladies and Gentleman. I am honoured and delighted to be in Galway this evening at The Kenny Gallery to open this new exhibition of work by Anna Marie Dowdican. I believe here to be an accomplished fine painter and keen photographer, the camera being her first love. She is also an inspired and prolific poet. (Firstly, I should like to say thank you to Tom Kenny for his very warm welcome, and kind introduction.)
Anna Marie was born in Co. Donegal. She moved to Sligo where she studied fine art for four years, and there she decided to remain – now firmly rooted, living and working in Co. Sligo. Despite her youthfulness Anna Marie has had 14 solo exhibitions to date, and has had her work exhibited in numerous group shows nationally and internationally. In 1998 she published "Imagine" her first collection of poetry and photography. She has also written art critiques for local press and art publications. In 2002 her book "Paint Me" – selected paintings, drawings and essays, was published by the Black Battler Press.
I have known Anna Marie for quite a few years, having been introduced to her in Sligo by the late distinguished painter John O'Leary, her former art teacher and mentor. I well remember that first meeting. Slightly built and pleasant, Anna Marie had a clear direct gaze and warm smile. She was also a good listener. I thought her perhaps somewhat shy. This observation however obscured a stronger and surprisingly humorous personality, and I was soon to know a versatile young woman of purpose with a definite ambition to grow and develop as a serious artist, both visually and literally. Although this exhibition consists of paintings and photographic prints, I should like to dwell for a moment on Anna Marie's poetry.
There is nothing contrived or flippant in her writing – occasionally a distinct element of humour appears, contrasted with spiritually serious content, and a raw emotional quality. She is certainly and intense thinker. As in her visual art work, her material would appear to be truthfully drawn from life, and from deeper more personal thoughts and feelings. Well written, sensitive, flowing and balanced lines – for me her poems are something of an enigma – inspired contemplation to be absorbed by the reader and enjoyed. In her painting, Anna Marie is a 'painters painter'. Her work is refreshing and bright – without repetition. There is movement and liveliness in the beautiful rich colour and texture, from the more representational and figurative pieces – 'Gull', 'Cat' & 'Tree', through the partially abstract – 'Waterfall' & 'Woodland', to totally abstract work – 'Perfect Moment' & 'Trumpet, Aria & Air', sometimes lyrical, on occasion ethereal in mood, revealing softness and delicacy as in 'Sanctuary' and 'Whiteland Morning'. I particularly like the small mixed media 'Rockpool' with its many textured layer and 'Bog Fire' with its feeling of scorching heat.
We can perhaps understand that Anna Marie has been greatly influenced by Sligo's John O'Leary, who as her teacher gave her great encouragement and sound advice, as well as being a true friend. She has also been influenced by a number of our former greater painters, notably Patrick Heron and Peter Lanyon from the Cornish St. Ives School; the Viennese expressionist painter Egon Schiele, especially with regard to his drawings, and I know Anna Marie has been totally inspired by the Russian born aristocrat Nicolas de Stael.
An artist does not cease to be an artist when he or she lays down the brush or pen; the studio is not the only place of work. Every moment of Anna Marie's life is 'studio'. She uses her intelligent and enquiring mind as an explorer and observer. A painting may perfectly well have been conceived before it gets to be painted- in the wildness of the landscape, along the coastline, in the street, perhaps while having a conversation with friends, in a room or in a dream – in fact anywhere, recreating the original idea from her notes, and by instinct and intuition. You certainly need plenty of self belief if you want to succeed as an artist, and I know Anna Marie has the imagination, determination and artistic talent to continue to achieve.
Here I quote a few telling lines from one of her poems entitled 'Mine Be'
"Mine be the strength of courage deep
Rushing, swelling, alive and free.
Mine be the faithfulness of the turning tide
The hidden depths of the salt green sea.
Mine be the brimming furnace of fire core
The love of all, and all, and more.
Mine be the life to live beyond poetic thought."
As to her future I believe there is much creativity yet trapped – I think we can surely look forward to celebrating many more unique visual spectacles for Anna Marie. I wish her every success in her Kenny Gallery exhibition, and a very relaxing and happy evening. I now have the very great pleasure in declaring Anna Marie's new exhibition open. There is plenty to enjoy in seeing her work, and I would like to wish you all a very pleasant and exciting evening.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Mavis Thomson, A.R.U.A
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