Kerlin Gallery is delighted to present 'Her Nature' a series of new paintings by Elizabeth Magill.
Elizabeth Magill has spent the past five months of lockdown on the Antrim coast, swapping her east London studio for one nestled in the rural landscape which has long featured in her work. The result is a series of paintings, collectively titled 'Her Nature' that explore our physical and psychological relationship to the land.
Each painting has its own, very different mood, its own story or mystery such as 'pink mineral,' with its fantastical 'red sky at night,' its title a reference to Rose Quartz, one of many earthly treasures or 'smoulder,' the contained, potential energy of a sleeping volcano.
These are multi-layered paintings, for example 'murmur,' meaning a low background noise, a mis-beating heart or the movement of many airborne starlings. Notably for Magill, 'murmur' is also a reference to a scene in Steve McQueen's 2008 film, Hunger.
'Set almost entirely inside a cell, it’s a claustrophobic and emotionally intense movie, compressed inside the walls of a prison save for one exceptionally liberating moment when the dying Sands remembers his youth, running as a teenager through a dense woodland, his movements startle a murder of crows, it’s a beautiful window into a memory of the outside world.'
For Magill landscape not only reflects a place of retreat but is also where people's struggles, survival and hopes are lived out.
Over the last several years my partner and I have been managing some farmland on the Antrim coast. It’s a beautiful location, and we have planted five thousand indigenous trees, it’s a small nod in relation to where we are ecologically. As the lockdown kicked in, it was the only place I wanted to be, among nature and the growing woodland, to hear the birds and see the sea. These particular paintings came out of this unusual time. They were my response to nature but are also a kind of lament to the strange times we are living in... perhaps too they are my attempt to suggest a beauty; a beauty created by distance and maybe the passing of time and an acknowledgment to things we can’t fully fathom. I hope that in the way I made these works that there is an ease in the gesture which may suggest a healing, or a rest.
Elizabeth Magill, August 2020
Elizabeth’s attention and imagination has been preoccupied by landscape : but in the way she paints it, those same themes of over-layering, palimpsest, patterning have been employed- and perhaps above all, she has retained and developed an uncanny sense of subverting the expected… The delicate tracery of telephone wires, pylons, wheeling flocks of birds, and above all trees, engrave signs on the landscape. Not reassuringly: those birds are often pretty Hitchcockian, and the trees look dead. And over everything there is often a toxic glow- as in the latest paintings, which seem to brood over ecological disaster and a world of division and threat. There is a sense of post-nuclear petrification. They also, perhaps, stem (as so much in her imagination does) from the County Antrim coast where she grew up, and the coexistence of a legendary landscape and an atmosphere which has its own social and political toxicity.
Emeritus professor of Irish history at the University of Oxford and professor of Irish history and literature at Queen Mary University of London.
Recent solo exhibitions include: Headland, Limerick City Gallery of Art, Limerick, (2017); travelling to Ulster Museum, Belfast, (2018); Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (2018) and New Art Gallery, Walsall, UK, (2019); Green Light Wanes, Towner Gallery & Museum, Eastbourne, UK, (2011); Recent Paintings, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, travelling to Milton Keynes Gallery, Milton Keynes; BALTIC, Gateshead; Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea, (all 2005) and Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin (2003). Recent group exhibitions include: The Aerodrome – An exhibition dedicated to the memory of Michael Stanley, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK, (2019); Legacies: JMW Turner and Contemporary Art Practice, New Art Gallery, Walsall, UK, (2017); and High Treason: Roger Casement, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Ireland, (2016).
Magill's work is represented in many museum and public collections worldwide including those of TATE, London; The Irish Museum of Modern Art; The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin; The Arts Council of England; The Arts Council of Northern Ireland; Ulster Museum, Belfast; The British Museum, London; Towner Art Gallery & Museum, Eastbourne; Worchester Museum and Art Gallery; Southampton City Art Gallery; The British Council and the National Gallery of Australia.