This July the Schoolhouse Gallery welcomes artist Martin Mc Cormack to exhibit his body of work entitled “Winds on Change”
About the artist
Martin Mc Cormack has a BSc in Science, with no formal artistic training. Since the 1990's Martin has taken many different classes as part of CEAD at NCAD in Dublin under varying tutors including Susanne Mahon ( watercolors ), Barbara Dunne (printmaking ), Anne Marie Keaveney ( Mixed Media), and Kenneth Donfield ( Life Drawing and Painting ) which has developed an interest in the human figure through Print and Mixed Media.
The influences of my work are primarily our survival as emotional humans against the odds. Life's fragility, and unpredictability demonstrate a spirit of survival in humanity that is deeply primeval or spiritual, though not easily encapsulated in conscious thought. Our dependence on the physical earth, and to each other, physically, emotionally and spiritually, are profoundly delicate, and vulnerable. The significance of the spirit to survive as human, when life's upheavals throw us into moments of uncertainty, is what inspires me. I seek to capture an expression of those moments when we are stripped bare and are dependent on something else to bring us through.
Development of Technique
In the 1990's at NCAD night classes, I enjoyed experimenting with wet flowing inks when doing etchings to express some strong emotions. Taking the thinking processes of making prints, I have adapted this to working with wet Peat ( turf ) as a painting medium.
This novel medium of dark Peat is striking when applied to the figure or portrait in a chiaroscuro style , where it adds the raw texture of the landscape to the character of the person, hinting at the influence the physical land has had on producing life itself. This organic material also communicates human physicality and mortality. So the actual medium contributes to the figurative or portrait subjects that I am drawing.
Nearly all my work will represent the human figure/portrait in some way. In addition to this , the handling of the material has similarities to the randomness of print making, which also carries a message of the randomness of chance in our own lives.
The inclusion of color against the darkness of the Peat medium can enhance a piece. I often experiment with mixing the pigments into the peat itself, but mostly by applying it to the boards prior to applying the peat, in a process that is the reverse of inking an etching. I sometimes call the technique “reverse printing”.
The work is exciting as it is still in development, and with the rough texture of the Peat, fine small detail is challenging to achieve, as lumps in the Peat prevent total control. Hence I often work on a slightly larger scale, working on primed timber boards, and applying the peat with various tools such as pallet knives or builder's trowels, and making marks with pallet knives, scapula, trowels, screwdrivers or cotton buds.
When making marks through the wet Peat, the medium adds to the uncertainty as a stroke of the tools moving through the non-homogenous material will be different each time. I have just begun to allow washes to be created by placing the still wet piece out in the rain for the rain to wash out some of the Peat medium or acrylics in its own random way. This meteorological input, adds additional randomness that enhances the feel of chaos within the image, without loosing the recognisable figures or faces. This is a very exciting new move in my work that I feel will direct me into new facets of my art.