The Kilkenny Castle-based Butler Gallery will again be showing the work of a local artist in its next exhibition, in this case a show entitled “Alpha To Omega” by Thomastown native Helen Comerford.
Having lived near Kells for the past 25 years and worked as a professional artist for four decades, this is her first solo show in the Butler Gallery, although her work has been displayed in the gallery several times.
The artist, who has been represented by Dublin’s Taylor Galleries since 1979, was born and raised in Thomastown, where her family had a bakery. “That was sort of important from the point of view of making,” she said.
In fact, recalling about a dozen makers who were working during the early days of the Kilkenny Design Centre, she said, “each had a baking or milling background.”
Her upcoming exhibition, “Alpha To Omega,” opens in the Butler Gallery on March 10.
“Basically I have been working on this for two years solid. It is really a major body of work,” she said of the exhibition that includes seven five-foot-square canvases with layers of paint built up to a very thick texture.
Each of them connects to the seven days of creation, recalling seven days of the week, seven planets, the seven notes of the musical scale, she said.
Along this line, German musician Ulrike Haselch will be performing at the exhibition launch, and she will also give a performance in Thomastown’s Watergarden on March 20 at 7pm and possibly in the Hole in the Wall, Kilkenny.
“She is going to talk to the work and the work is going to talk to her,” Helen said.
The work itself is encaustic painting, which involves adding beeswax to heated pigments.
From the Greek word meaning “to burn in,” the method in Helen’s case involves using a paella pan with a paella burner. “I get up in the morning and turn it on, and it’s ready to go an hour or an hour and a half later,” she said. “The whole process is very slow.”
Fittingly, her background is in sculpture, and although over the years she always spent a few weeks on painting, “it (the process) went too fast for me,” she said.
This method also gave her the results she was looking for. “It’s a very thick texture and what I was missing was texture,” she said. “When you see the work, you will see that it is a sculptor painting still. I will always go a little bit between (the two).”
Helen Comerford’s ‘Alpha To Omega’ opens in the Butler Gallery on March 10 and continues until April 22. She will give an artist’s talk in the gallery on March 22 from 1-2pm.