Hello, As part of our series of chats, we are delighted to let you in on our conversation with our second artist taking part. We hope you enjoy this latest chapter in our story. And … for all of you who have sent us such positive feedback, following our first chat wih Sheila Anderson Hardy, last week…. a very big Thank You. So, without further ado, let us introduce you to
Light and lines in the landscape with Siobhan O’Hehir
I’m missing seeing you already, nearly a month now since the beginning of the lockdown. I hope you are well and keeping safe. Just to inform our friends out there, could you say a few words about yourself? I grew up in the West of Ireland but am now based in Ancrum, a small village to the north west of Jedburgh. I always wanted to be an artist, my sister was an artist and there was no doubt in my mind that this was the path for me. I also received encouragement from the people around me at that time. So following a BA Hons in Belfast, I went on to study for an MA in Fine Art in Newcastle.
Apart from the time you spend as a professional artist, do you also have other occupation, such as part time lecturer/tutor?I have always made art but have been working professionally for around 15 yrs. I have been involved in education for over 25 years and continue to lecture part-time in art and design at Borders College.
Where do you work? Do you have a studio/workshop? Tell us a little about this special place. My studio is attached to our house. It’s a nice space and looks out onto the garden, which is full of trees.
How has the lockdown affected your time in the studio/workshop? Initially I went into overdrive! I was super motivated and doing a million and one things but in the last couple of days I have slowed down a bit and taken time to just be. I am trying to stay focused and motivated but the restrictions around where you can walk, and travel are beginning to grate on me somewhat…that said I think as artists we are lucky, we are used to working alone and can do this for many weeks at a time, especially if you have an exhibition coming up and so on.
Describe a “typical” approach to your work practice I am a hands-on painter in the sense that I work best when exploring ideas through making.
Are you a “must have total silence” kind of creative person, or do you listen tomusic whilst working? I rarely work in silence. I like a mixture of radio, podcasts and music. Radio can be a great source of information about all sorts of things, but you must know when to switch off!! I also listen to all sorts of podcasts and amongst the True crime, and other entertainment, I do get into some culture as well!! Art and Ideas from the Getty and The Modern Art Notes podcasts are interesting. Art Juice and the Curious Climber are a couple of other ones I dip into too.
What is your fave music you like to work to? I don’t blast the music!!! but I really like the likes of Bill Callahan, Nick Cave, all sorts really…the last music I listened to was a band called Charalambides…A Vintage Burden…melancholic and beautiful.
What is the main subject of your inspiration? I love the outdoors and share a love of hill walking and rock climbing with my family…. all our holidays revolve around visiting crags and mountains …so spending time in these places influences my work. Obviously, living in such a wonderful region, I am also inspired by the landscape and environs on my doorstep. I am particularly interested in how the weather changes the mood of the land. The marks left by man’s relationship with the earth also inspire me.
Shadow and Form I and II (diptych), oil on canvas – framed, 50cm x 50cm each
What medium and techniques do you use to translate your creative ideas? Tell us a little about your creative process. I work mainly in oils on canvas….and usually work on a series of paintings at the same time. I also work on paper and directly into sketch books …this is a great way to free up and take a less precious approach. In terms of a creative process… after many years, this has taken on a familiar pattern… it has become circular in a sense. All that time looking and immersing oneself in the outdoors, whether walking locally or further afield gives time for observation……just noticing things, colors, shapes and so on filters back into my studio practice.
Looking at the history of art in the Western World at least, where would you place yourself, spirit and style wise? Where would I place my work, spirit and style wise in western art etc…Well that’s a big question! I’m just a tiny cog…but my work lies somewhere between abstraction and representation of landscape. Fortunately for me some lovely people connect with my painting and think it is beautiful enough to hang on their walls and this makes me happy.
Some people have ‘studio pets’. Do you have one? What’s their ‘contribution’ to your creativity? I have two studio companions, Owl and Hibou, both jackapoo girls…great fun and very non-judgemental!
What is your favourite pastime? Has the pandemic impacted on your ability to enjoy this?As mentioned earlier we share a love of hill walking and rock climbing as a family… we thrive best in remote and wild places!! I also love water and swimming whether it is in the sea, a lake or river, it is a real pull for me too. Obviously this type of relaxation has been put on hold for the time being.
Can you while away the hours with a “good book”? or do you need to do something more active. Any particular title you would recommend as a “must read once in a lifetime”? I enjoy reading but alas I don’t read enough…I think writers are an amazing breed and I am fascinated by how they do what they do. I have about 4 unfinished and ongoing books beside my bed at the moment but the last three books I enjoyed were Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane, The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd, Kathleen O’ Connor of Paris by Amanda Curtin…I also really like poetry and have recently discovered Alphabet by Inger Christensen….this is a truly beautiful poem.
What about films? What is your favourite film of all?I love film. My favorite kind of films tend to be about people and stories. I’m more drawn towards less mainstream; we watch a lot of mainly foreign language films. The Finnish director Aki Olavi Kaurismaki makes great films about characters, who despite terrible odds, always somehow survive. Kindness and hope win through.
Tell us of one of the most beautiful or happy moments in your life… Beautiful and happy moments in my life…. Apart from the big personal things in life that many people cherish, one of the things that really resonates with me was the many times spent walking and scrambling along the Cullin ridge on Skye with my other half…all my worries and anxieties just evaporate when in this place!
Who is up there in your esteem in terms of artistic excellence? What is/are your favourite artist(s)? Like film I have lots of artists work I admire…all sorts really. I really like a lot of contemporary art, process/idea-based stuff and probably more sculptural than painting! It’s such a difficult question…Joan Eardley’s landscape paintings really appeal to me…but I also love Rothko’s huge colour field paintings too.
Any pet hate? – we all have one, it’s OK to say it. Pet hates-Rude and inconsiderate people!! But don’t we all hate that?!
As a painter, do you have a favourite colour? Blue.
It has been said that creatives are often great cooks as they know how to balance food colours, flavours, texture to create that perfect tastebuds experience, do you like cooking? What is your signature dish? I don’t really cook but I can bake a good cake!
What are you exploring at the moment, artistically speaking? At the moment I have just completed a short online course on collage. I‘m now developing some of these ideas…. trying to work out compositions and materials. I am working through the idea of juxtaposing a painterly chaos with a linear dividing of flat space on the canvas. I am also interested in the actual surface of the support…how torn edges and so on can disrupt. So still working essentially with the idea of landscape as my subject matter.
What makes you laugh/cry? Laugh /cry…My father would often make me laugh, although he often didn’t realise it, he was in tune with the absurdity of how life can be at times and he knew how to bring that out of me. Cry….cruelty to animals.
What is your favourite tipple? Red wine is my go-to tipple.
What is your “naughty but nice” comfort? Wine, again!
If you could travel, where would you go? If I could travel anywhere right now it would be to the South of France…..for sun, climbing and wine.
Finally, going forward, what would you hope we could learn as a society/humans from this pandemic.What is your message to the world? After this is all over, I think we hopefully will have found out some very important things about how humanity is affecting the planet and how we need to adjust our behaviour. I don’t feel very confident about this, but we must be hopeful.
THANK YOU so much SIOBHAN for sharing these thoughts with us.
I hope our readers enjoyed listening to you. I, for my part, certainly feel I now know you better still and will be able to appreciate your fabulous paintings on a much deeper level. Thank you!
If you want to know more about the paintings shown in this email, or find out more about Siobhan, please CLICK HERE
Feel free to send us any comments/questions at CONTACT US
Thank you for reading and please do stay safe!
ps.: Our next episode of THE FULL PICTURE will be published on 2nd May 2020