All Fionnuala's work starts in the landscape, with sketches, with fragments of land and sea, painted en plein air. Her connection with the landscape – walking, swimming, and repeatedly sketching and photographing everything over days and weeks, has taught her that nothing is set. Light, wind, land, rock and sea are forever changing and her work tries to capture that. She studied J.M.Turner's atmospheric washes of paint and set about attaining a new evocation of Irish landscape and light using layers of shimmering colours. These paintings hurl the viewer headlong into the landscape so that they become a journey, an interaction of what’s being experienced in the space and the reaction to it emotionally. They communicate a sense of awe and enjoyment in the environment, a frightening wilderness but also an intense engagement with it.
Fionnuala continues to explore an aesthetic which is embedded in the historical Romanticism of Caspar David and the great romantic landscape painters, urging us to look inward for our own remote selves, our innate wildness, our uniquely Irish 'edge'. Her paintings seek to capture an experience of the infinite, to directly confront the viewer with the awesome crashing waves, hard rocks, sunlight vistas and foggy expanses that make up the beautiful primeval power of the Irish landscape.
Fionnuala Nolan is an Irish artist who has been creating art her whole life. Painting is her daily routine, not an exercise, but a necessary making, a sustenance, like bread for life. She grew up in a family of makers whose creativity took varied forms and she was especially drawn to the visual power of the colours, textures and shapes in the natural world.
Travels through the diverse landscapes of Ireland inform her work, particularly Cork, Kerry and Achill and she has a longtime deep connection with Wexford. She studied English and History at University College Dublin, and she has a B Des (Hons) from the National College of Art & Design where she specialised in Ceramic Sculpture. Her imposing works mimicked ancient standing stones, dolmens, and currachs (Irish wooden framed boats), and Viking langskips as receptacles for memories.
While travelling abroad Fionnuala visited the major galleries of Europe. She was immediately drawn to the French Impressionists practice of painting outside, of capturing things spontaneously 'on the spot', and creating landscapes that conveyed the external atmosphere and an internal mood. And she loved the layers of storytelling of 18th century Italian masters, of sacred legends conveyed in a grandiose, even theatrical language. The notion of painting as a staged fiction — something intended to involve the viewer on a purely imaginative level, appealed to her. These diverse strands informed her early paintings with their hints of Celtic legend and mysticism embedded in Irish landscapes.
Fionnuala's work is widely represented in private collections in Ireland and overseas.
The Office of Public Works purchased this painting for the State Art Collection. (oil on canvas, 70x55cm)
Fionnuala Nolan lives and works in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland where she has her studio. She has always painted, but has also worked in education, retail and interior design. She sells her paintings directly and through the Dun Laoghaire Art Gallery . She has had several solo shows and been part of group exhibitions.
'And so in my mind’s eye these coastal forms merge and blend in a shifting, kaleidoscopic pattern in which there is no finality, no ultimate and fixed reality — earth becoming fluid as the sea itself.' Rachel Carson
I am a member of Visual Artists Ireland, the representative body for professional visual artists in Ireland.
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© Fionnuala Nolan 2022