Kenmare Butter Market

What’s On

29th july to 23nd September

Open Tuesday to Saturday, 11am - 5pm
and sunday 12pm - 4pm

This Earth

Six Artists Respond to the Irish Landscape


Six Artists Respond to the Irish Landscape.


By:- Barbara Kenneally, Jacqueline O’Driscoll, Cormac O’Leary, Alison Ospina, Jenny Richardson and Joe Thoma

Curated by Jacqueline O’Driscoll and Claire Bunbury

This six-week summer exhibition at the leading Kenmare Butter Market contemporary art gallery in County Kerry features six artists responding to the theme This Earth.

The work of the six artists varies widely in style and mediums used, but is connected by a strong and shared interest in, and connection to, the natural world.

“If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable” – Rainer Maria Rilke.


Barbara Kenneally

Barbara Kenneally is a visual artist based in Cork. She has a science background and works in glass and photography. She has a lifelong connection to the Beara peninsula and her glass sculptures are made using moulds from rocks at the abandoned mines in Allihies, County Cork.

Jacqueline O’Driscoll

Jacqueline O’Driscoll’s abstract and semi-abstract work is rooted in the rural landscape of County Kerry. Her textural, many-layered, mixed-media paintings are informed by the colours, forms, weather patterns and history of the earth.

Cormac O’Leary

Cormac O’Leary’s new paintings explore a sense of place, glimpsed and experienced through seasonal change. “I attempt to capture the atmosphere of the landscape I live in and travel through,” he says. “Images are conjured from memory and observation. My paintings are inspired by an emotional as well as visual response to my immediate environment.”

Alison Ospina

Alison Ospina has been designing and making graceful freeform chairs, using locally coppiced hazel, since she moved to West Cork in 1996. Her green-wood forms are led by her materials; “working with the natural shapes and curves of the hazel is a dynamic process – like a conversation between the tree and the chair-maker,” she says.

Jenny Richardson

Jenny Richardson was born in Edinburgh and attended Edinburgh College of Art from 1962 to 1966. She has worked all her life as a painter in Scotland and Ireland, and has made her home on the Beara peninsula of West Cork since 1998. Recently she has been working on a series of watercolours making an inventory of the local flora and fauna.

Joe Thoma

Kenmare-based Joe Thoma is an artist, musician and arts educator. He works mainly in oil and pastels and his vivid, textured paintings reflect his surroundings.

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Welcome to Ian Humphreys’ retrospective exhibition which he describes as a celebration. The work includes still lives, figures, land/seascapes, and abstractions and all the shades between these conventional categories.
The paintings ‘go back’ to 1999 when Ian first moved to the Southwest of Ireland. A celebration is a joyous occasion – and these paintings rejoice in paint, painting, colour, texture, light, sea, land, community, ritual, people, life, and death. As viewers we are invited to find our own moments of joy and Ian would like his work to make people smile.
I have known Ian for a long time but not seen his work in ‘real life’ for many years – this writing comes from memory, imagination, and anticipation. I look forward to seeing the exhibition and the places that inspired it. I am hoping for paintings that surprise me and shift my perspective.
My curiosity is sparked by horizontals, verticals, and edges. Ian describes his exploration of vertical and horizontal movement. There are paintings with discernible horizontal bands of pigment and some with vertical sweeps and gestures. Other surfaces are flooded or immersed with ‘overall’ washes of colour. Ian is clear that he doesn’t depict or represent nature but creates an ‘equivalence’. Sometimes he works directly from observation and sometimes in the studio from experiences and impressions he has absorbed. I read the horizontal bands as the uncertain and interconnected slices of sky, sea, and land that we experience at the coast. I am interested to hear that some of the vertically oriented paintings echo the experience of working at the Josef Albers Foundation surrounded by woods and trees in Connecticut. I am drawn to the paintings that contradict themselves for example, horizontal bands on a vertical (portrait) format.
There are many other instances of ‘opposites’ which clash or balance. Thick and thin, small details and large expanses, light and dark, smooth and harsh, blended and distinct, close up and far away. There are passages of closely related colour values interrupted by contrasts that, according to Ian, allow colour to exist – ‘to be’. On the painting surface relationships take place, identities are formed through similarity, difference, and interconnection.
I am also keen to see the edges, surfaces, and ‘skins’ between things. How do colours meet and layers of paint accumulate? How visible is the process of production? Ian describes how he doesn’t paint to the top edge of the canvas but that there is no margin along the bottom edge as paint slips, slides, and drips floorward.
Ian discusses the conscious, unconscious and meditative aspects of his process. He describes letting things happen as much as making them happen. His work involves bursts of ‘frenzied’ activity followed by periods of contemplation, so that he alternates between making and observing his paintings. When I asked about the relationship between the world of the painting, the external world of nature and society, and his own internal world Ian replied that they are the same – he sees no distinction between these spheres of experience. This is a thought I will take with me when I go to see the exhibition. I am also interested to explore the relationships between the different works. I imagine each as a moment containing both past influences and experiences and future possibilities.
These reflections and anticipations remind me of the potential for art to connect us to new ideas, other times and places, and to each other. Ian wants these paintings to make you smile. I hope they touch you.
Jill Howitt July 2022