Growing up in Connemara I have always been intrigued by the many and varied abandoned houses in this part of Ireland. Many have survived since famine times due to their thick stone walls and simple but solid structures. They have been vacated along the way for many reasons; emigration, hardship family lines dying off etc.
To me they have a wonderful sense of history and mystery about them, and always seem full of character. They come from bygone eras, and in many instances stand side by side with modern day irish “bungalow bliss”. Many of them are now used as sheds or cow byres. They can be a myriad of colours; in many cases the owners have had to use only whatever paint is on hand to maintain them. To me they are full of beauty, but always with a sense of desolation about them.
Because these buildings have a unique character due to their age and history, I have tried recently to use paint in different and inventive ways to capture the atmosphere that surrounds them. As well as using the traditional brush methods of applying paint, I have experimented, with techniques involving spilling, mopping and scraping back the paint, to create the shapes and moods that I associate with these beautiful yet mysterious structures.
I feel that John Gray really captured what I strive to achieve in my work, when he said in a review of my recent exhibition, “‘Connemara light’ may be a well worn cliché both of tourist literature and the history of landscape painting in the area, but Ryan herself extols it, and succeeds in bringing a fresh vibrancy to it.
There is both a subtlety and an intensity to her palette. Every imaginable shade of blue, green, or yellow is brought into play as we follow the day from dawn to dusk and the seasons from spring through to autumn.”