ARTIST and author Philip Brennan’s work reflects a deep relationship with the land, the passing year and the creatures, flora and people that inhabit it.Coming from the background of the last of the small farms of his native County Clare, Philip, who lives in Stonehall, just outside Newmarket-on-Fergus, has followed his own lights to explore and gain inspiration from that homeland.
His paintings show a keen sense of observation and affection for a multiplicity of subjects and in his atmospheric watercolours he has found the perfect vehicle for expressing his obsessions.
Philip will showcase his work at an exhibition which opens at the Temple Gate Hotel on Thursday, November 12 at 8pm and runs for a couple of days at the venue between 10.30am and 6pm.
Philip has been exhibiting his painting since the late ’70s, mainly in Clare, but also around the south-west of Ireland and in the United States. While he occasionally uses pastels, inks, pencil and oils, watercolour is his preferred medium.
As well as illustrating bird guidebooks such as the Birds of Killarney National Park and a range of historical and wildlife illustrations, he has published two books, Clare (2002) and Wanderings (2006), each with paintings and accompanying stories, poems and songs.
Clare is a collection with a leaning towards history and folklore and Wanderings is based on a two-year journal concerned with a wide variety of themes, including wildlife, music and musicians, seascape and gardens.
Philip is also a traditional singer and songwriter. His first CD, Tobartaoscan was released this September. He has a background in teaching and wildlife work.
His latest exhibition, made up entirely of watercolours, marks a return to themes favoured by Philip since he began showing his work in the ’70s. His early exhibitions featured a lot of wildlife, especially bird paintings, often in watery situations. This show has a run of similar pictures where the creature and its habitat and surroundings are captured in a particular moment in their lives. Typical of these is The Migrant at the Light and Swallows and Flowers above Black Head, both showing glimpses from a bird’s long and dangerous migration journey.
Combined with the natural history themes are paintings from one of Philip’s favourite places, the shorelines on the Loop Head peninsula, particularly around the Bridges of Ross. There are both calm waters as well as rocks in fascinating shapes that were formed in ancient seas. This is often a wild and stormy coast and there are several pictures that started out as sketches taken from cliff-tops in rough weather.
To add to the variety in the aquatic theme, there are pictures of waterways and shorelines from elsewhere in Clare and other westerly counties, as well as from Bardsey Island in Wales.