Most artists find a groove and a medium to work with and carry similar themes throughout their work. This cannot be said about Mary Duffy. Over her 40-year career as an artist, she has dipped her toes into many media, including photography, performance art, as well as portrait and landscape painting. As a painter, she is known for abstract paintings inspired by megalithic tombs as well as her landscapes of the rare fen habitat near where she lives in Newcastle, County Wicklow.
Once a familiar sight with her easel and canvas around Six Mile Point, this “guerrilla painter”, as she describes herself, finds it necessary these days to retreat to a studio. “While I love painting outdoors”, she explains, “it is impractical for me, and the move to studio-based painting was a major challenge.” This artist, thrives on challenges and the move to studio-based work has made her more curious.
The need to explore has resulted in her experimenting with adding other materials to oil paint, including cold wax medium, sand, metal filings, and peat ash.
The idea of adding peat ash to her paintings came as a result of a visit to north Mayo, where she visited the court cairns nearby Rathlacken. Here she became fascinated with their location and structures as well as their remoteness in a boggy upland landscape. “These ancient stone monuments have an intensity and grandeur appropriate to the many magical meanings attributed to them,” she says.
Following a successful application to the Arts Council of Ireland for Visual Arts Bursary, Mary Duffy presented the result of this work at The Courthouse Arts Centre, Tinahely late in 2022, The resulting show was series of paintings with dynamic designs, glorious colours and fascinating textures. Her most recent solo show was at in the Kenmare Butter Market Gallery in Kenmare Co Kerry.
Versatile and accomplished, polished and professional, more of Mary Duffy’s work can be explored further at www.maryduffy.ie