Original oil on slate by Una O'Grady
85x38cm unframed slate
More by Una O'Grady
The slates that I use to create my (single, diptych and triptych) paintings are from our cowsheds. These slates have become dislodged over many years.
Our sheds date back to the 1800’s and are attached to an old stone farmhouse in a ‘courtyard’ shaped layout. Architecturally it’s a wonderful example of an original Irish vernacular farmhouse and out buildings. As far as I know, there aren’t many of these historic working buildings left in Ireland.
Although aesthetically pleasing, and displaying many of the original features of the time, the buildings are slowly falling into disrepair.
The slates that have fallen off the roof are broken and worn but this is what has drawn me towards them. I see each one as a piece of art in its own right. Each one is unique and has it’s own weather beaten story, irregularities and imperfect perimeter.
This imperfect and rugged perimeter lends itself to a subject matter that I have enjoyed painting for years. Ever since my degree show at the Ulster University’s Art College (where my theme was County Clare’s, the ‘Burren’), I have been fascinated by the energy and colour of the west of Ireland’s seaboard. Applying oil paint to these rough, uneven stone slates, to represent this wild coastline makes perfect sense to me. And how appropriate that when arranged as a diptych or triptych, the coast’s raging sea and headlands, roll from one slate into the next, following that jagged and colourful coastal perimeter!
Layering on the textured oil paint reminds me of the layers of rock that form the Burren, Aran Islands, Connemara and Bloody Foreland...(areas that I continually return to in person and in terms of painting)! Their unusual terrain is geographically similar and special - found nowhere else on earth but on our Wild Atlantic Way.
It’s probably no surprise, given my love for the west, that my grandfather was a Galway man- an electrician, who having travelled to Belfast in the 1950’s looking for work never left! Of course I’m also very proud of my ‘O’Grady’ west of Ireland surname!
Could it be serendipity that these slates that can’t be reused for their original purpose, can be brought back to life in another form?
What an ideal platform to showcase our very own and unique Wild Atlantic Way!