Catherine Foley reviews Sarah Longley in The Irish Times


The "strange juxtapositions" in the paintings of Sarah Longley "are her signature," said playwright Frank McGuinness . He cited examples, such as the "marble woman wearing a woollen hat, a cockerel in a scullery innocent of its end, its yellow feet touching the bloodcoloured tiles".

"Longley sees the miraculous in the ordinary, threatening to overspill like the drawer beneath the all-feeling pink gloves, the magical creators of this exhibition," added McGuinness, opening Longley's exhibition, Monaghan Interiors, at Dublin's Peppercanister Gallery this week. "This is a sensual world, some of it in deep sleep, the flesh of her nudes dreaming of colour. The women's feet when she draws them are exquisitely bound by paint and pencil. They touch the earth of the canvas and map her fascination with the rough and the beautiful."

Longley's father, poet Michael Longley , and her mother, Prof. Edna Longley , were both at the opening, as was Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney , former president of UCD Prof. Paddy Masterson , and Japanese artist Makiko Nakamura .

Longley based a number of her paintings on a house in Glaslough, Co Monaghan, where Elizabeth Hamilton and her daughter, Deacem Hamilton , live.

"There's a real sense of the past and past generations," explained Sarah Longley. "It just captivated me for those reasons, and all those old objects, and I have a real love of pattern, over-the-top floral wallpaper and carpets and antiques. It was a gift to me to be there."

The portrait of her father, My Father's Hat, appealed to the man himself because "it makes me look gentle and good-tempered", he said, smiling ruefully. "I'm a grumpy old curmudgeon," he added, helpfully.

Others at the opening included medical scientist Frances Owens and her friend, Sheila Fitzgibbon , from Cabinteely; solicitor Catherine Noone , from Claremorris, Co Mayo; and Prof. Seamus Ó Cinnéide , of NUI Maynooth.

Monaghan Interiors , by Sarah Longley, will continue at the Peppercanister Gallery, Dublin 2, until Wed, Feb 14