Hello Siobhan! Congratulations again on winning the "Seasons" International Art Competition. What led to the inspiration behind your painting ’The Gearagh Month by Month'?
I live near a very special place called The Gearagh (An Ghaoraidh in Irish) which means wooded river. It's a beautiful nature reserve, undiscovered by many, located 26 miles west of Cork City in Ireland.
It’s a European protected habitat and a wetland of international importance. It's the only alluvial forest west of the River Rhine, in Europe. It was formed at the end of the Ice Age when the meltwater from the great glacier which originated in Gougane Barra gushed out from the confines of the upper Lee Valley. The abrupt change in velocity resulted in the deposition of great quantities of rock and soil which formed islands separated by numerous streams. It was on these that the woodlands developed.
Sadly, several hundred acres were clear-felled in the 1950s as a hydro-electric scheme was developed downstream.
Thankfully mother nature has a way of taking back which was once hers and much of the flora and fauna that had formerly occupied the ancient forest have reemerged.
I moved to the area in 2012 and began to explore the reserve. I had this magnetic desire to paint it. I was still working as a graphic designer then (I had my own design business) and was painting in my spare time.
The internal voice prompting me to paint The Gearagh was so overwhelming that when an invite came to be part of a group exhibition in 2017 I instinctively knew what I wanted paint. Painting landscapes was an unusual choice for me because the majority of my work at the time was predominantly of animals.
The success of that exhibition prompted me to continue my work documenting The Gearagh and its’ beauty, an endless source of inspiration. There is something about this marshland that is calm and serene. I feel at peace there.