Sarah Longley

Interiors & Exteriors

22 Jan — 7 Feb 2009

An exhibition of recent paintings

Drawing on the theme of a sense of place, Belfast-born artist Sarah Longley will open the Gallery programme for 2009 with an exciting new series of paintings. Inspiration was drawn from various sources: time spent in Italy, a painting residency on Shetland Islands, a little cottage in Arran where she has spent some time, her mother’s study in Belfast and also from Edinburgh, where she now resides.

Sarah, daughter of internationally distinguished poet Michael Longley and academician Dr Edna Longley, studied art at Manchester University and later, at Edinburgh College of Art. While at college she won a number of prizes for outstanding artistic merit and was awarded a first class honours B.A. in painting and drawing before going on to earn her masters degree in that field. She has continued to live and work in Edinburgh with regular visits to Ireland. She is undoubtedly one of the brightest young talents to burst on the Irish art scene in recent years. Her work is a personal response to her surroundings, with her subject-matter ranging from intimate domestic interiors, still lives with flowers and fabrics to portraits of friends and family and self portraits.

This exhibition includes a number of intimate Italian domestic interiors, based on a trip to the beautiful hill-town of Cardoso in the Garfagnana, a wooded region on the edge of Tuscany. Staying in the house of a family friend, the surroundings captured her imagination, and she has produced a charming series of work based on her stay there. One immediately knows that this is Italy, with the unmistakeable continental light pervading every room, the terracotta tiles on the crumbly old buildings visible from the windows and the lush vegetation creeping up between. She offers us a small glimpse into this domestic set-up and delights in the features surrounding her – a balcony, a sun-hat hanging on the back of an old chair, a statue of a heron standing alongside a wicker chair, some wild flowers on a window sill infused by an early morning light.
To demonstrate her dexterity with different media, Sarah has included a number of works in acrylic, carried out while on a painting residency on the Shetland Islands. These paintings are a personal response to her surroundings and capture the “tree-less, stark, barren, layered, very mysterious” landscape she encountered.

This exhibition also features a number of paintings based in Edinburgh. Sarah was inspired by a series of allotments she viewed one day while out walking. Tucked away and surrounded by a wall, they provided her with an excellent vantage point and she was struck by the gorgeous maze-effect created by the hedges. The paintings were created in summer, during the months of June and July when the apple trees were at their most abundant. She sees the allotments as a rich source of inspiration and describes them as “a self-contained little universe”. She intends to continue the series throughout the changing seasons.

Also included in this show are three small paintings based on a little cottage in Arran, an island off the coast of Scotland, and one from her mother’s study in Belfast, offering a snapshot view into these domestic set-ups.

She also succeeds in rendering the human form with amazing sureness and skill and includes a beautiful Nude by Lamplight to illustrate the point. A strong sense of light pervades all of her work which she carries out in a spontaneous and uninhibited manner that is gloriously refreshing. The public response to her art has been immediate as her work has grown in strength and elegance, demonstrating confidence and distinction.

This is Sarah’s fifth solo exhibition at the Gallery. She has been the recipient of many prizes for art in her young but meteoric career, and her work has been avidly purchased by major corporate and private collectors.

The Private View will take place on Wednesday 21st January 2009 between 5.30 and 7.30 pm. The exhibition will be formally opened by Dr Síghle Bhreathnach-Lynch and will be available to view prior to the Opening. It will run until Saturday 7th February 2009.