Anne Martin Walsh. (b 1962)
Anne Martin Walsh completed a Masters in Fine Art at CIT Crawford College of Art & Design, Cork in January, 2019, and a BA (Hons 1st class) in Art from the Wexford Campus School of Art & Design, IT Carlow, 2017. She now lives and works in Wexford. Her practice revolves around painting and printmaking, sometimes installed in combination with sculptural elements. Central to this work are themes of sexual and cultural identity that relate to our natural environment and reference a range of topics taken from history and mythology. She is interested in the layering of paint and different forms of mark-making. Through her art work she endeavours to create an alternative way of seeing; a physical and spiritual connection to the earth.
This artist has participated in several groups shows in Ireland during 2019 and 2020. She was involved in a joint exhibition in The Creative Hub, Wexford; FORCE/EFFECT/RESPONSE, from 14th December, 2019 to 12 January, 2020 and was also one of eight artists taking part in The Living Arts Project 2019/20. The exhibition, VIBRATION: Embracing a Higher Connection to Our Planet, at Kamera 8, Wexford, was her first major solo show since graduating from her Masters. In 2020, she was part of: HERE TOGETHER: Architectures of Belief & Rhythms of Ritual, a collaborative exhibition in Carlow College/St. Patrick’s, Carlow. She took part in the Portraits For Heroes in April 2020. Anne Martin Walsh is a member of Nua Collective, ‘Ireland’s newest online virtual experience playing host to professional, practicing artists who form part of an inclusive, supportive community’. Martin Walsh was awarded an Artlinks Bursary 2020 by Wexford County Council Arts Department.
Anne Martin Walsh
My practice revolves around painting, photography and printmaking, sometimes installed in combination with sculptural elements. Central to this work are themes of sexual and cultural identity that relate to our natural environment and reference a range of topics taken from history and mythology. My research involves an examination of geomagnetic ley-lines, ancient sites, Sheela-na-gig and rituals such as divination. All of these are important in my ongoing inquiries, as this exploration is imperative as a way of re-connecting with the earth and creating a new visual language.
I am interested in the layering of paint and different forms of mark-making. The work becomes more about the medium as the painting evolves, allowing a certain ebb and flow while encouraging the plasticity of the paint. The involvement of printed sections in the process creates another dimension to the painting and the sculpting of clay-forms by hand enhances my understanding of the materiality of the subject. The art becomes visceral, primal and gestural in its making, with embedded references to a landscape inscribed through the chosen medium.
Through my work I endeavour to create an alternative way of seeing, evoking a sense of being grounded for both myself and the viewer; a physical and spiritual connection to the earth and an awareness of environmental issues.
Anne Martin Walsh. (b. 1962 Ireland)
Phone: 00353 87 4127663
CIT Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork. Masters of Art in Art and Process, 2019.
ITCarlow, Wexford School of Art and Design; BA Hons (1st Class) Fine Art Degree, 2017.
Gorey school of Art, Co. Wexford; QQI Level 6, 2014. (awarded 9 distinctions)
Waterford Regional Hospital School of Nursing; Diploma in General Nursing, 1985.
March 12 – May 1, 2021: NATURE COLLATED. The Presentation Arts Centre, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. Online at: https://www.presentationcentre.ie/annemartinwalsh.html
January 16 – January 30, 2020: VIBRATION. Embracing a Higher Connection to Our Planet, curated by Anya Gosseln. Kamera 8, 5 Rowe Street, Wexford.
- March 17, 2021: EQUINOX, An Exhibition by Nua Collective. Online at: https://nuacollective.ie/equinox/
- January 23, 2021: The Year of Magical Thinking, Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise, Co. Laoise. Online at: https://artspaces.kunstmatrix.com/de/exhibition/4318561/the-year-of-magical-thinking
- January 21, 2021: SEE/ME #ArtInTransition All Participants Slideshow. Online at: https://vimeo.com/502757202
- December 14, 2020 – January 14, 2021. The Courthouse Gallery and Studio Winter Open, Ennistymon, Co. Clare and Online at: http://thecourthousegallery.com/online-store?start=96
- November 29, 2020 – January 2021: Annual 44 Art Exhibition. Online at: https://theannual44.viewingrooms.com/
- November 26, 2020 – : Nua Collective’s Premier Exhibition. Online at: https://nuacollective.ie/exhibitions/
- August 3 – October 3, 2020: Places We Love, Artlink Members Virtual Show at artlinkonline.ie
- July 31 – October 7, 2020: Stories from Lismore and beyond, The Main Gallery, Lismore Castle Arts. Lismore, Co. Waterford
- March 20 – May 8, 2020: The 5th Annual Open Call Exhibition, The Presentation Centre, Enniscorthy. Online and in situ.
- February 10 – October 5, 2020: HERE TOGETHER: Architectures of Belief & Rhythms of Ritual. A collaborative exhibition in Carlow College/St. Patrick’s, Carlow.
- December 14, 2019 – January 12, 2020: FORCE/EFFECT/RESPONSE (joint exhibition) The Creative Hub, Main Street/Malin Street, Wexford.
- November 23 – December 15, 2019: ARTFORM Annual Contemporary Art Fair, 44 The Quay, Waterford.
- October 20 – November 3, 2019: WEX – ART ’19, 7 Slaney Street, Wexford.
- August 2 – 5, 2019: EAT 2019. Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.
- April 25 – May 2, 2019. Catch 2019. The Nude THE SEA The Muse. Stella Maris Centre, Kilmore Quay, Wexford.
- March 15 – May 10, 2019. The A.O.C. Presentation Centre, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.
- January 26 – March 16, 2019: Open Submission Show 2019. Green Acres Gallery, Wexford.
- November 29 – December 14, 2018: Memories of a Nervous System. MA in Art and Process, CIT CRAWFORD College of Art & Design Graduate Exhibition, 46 Grand Parade, Cork
- January 27– February 24, 2018: Open Submission Show 2018. Green Acres Gallery, Wexford.
- November 2017 – January 2018: Visibility. Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise, Co. Laois.
- August 2017: 21st National Open Art competition (shortlisted). Exhibited on their online gallery.
- May – June 2017: Beyond these Walls. Ba (Hons) Fine Art Degree Exhibition, The Arts Centre, Wexford.
- March 2016: Enigma: a journey into the unconscious mind. Unit 1, Drinagh, Wexford.
- May 2015: Tunnel Vision. IT Carlow Wexford Campus School of Art and Design, Hill Street, Wexford.
- December 2014: Go with the Flow. IT Carlow Wexford Campus School of Art and Design, Hill Street, Wexford.
- May – June 2014: Out of Focus. Gorey School of Art, Co. Wexford
Work sold to public collection.
Works held in private collections in the UK, America, Canada and Ireland.
Residencies & Awards:
Awarded an Artlinks Bursary 2020 by Wexford County Council Arts Department.
WCC & WAC Living Arts Project, Artist Residency Programme, 2019/2020
WCC & WAC Living Arts Project Workshop (Assistant Artist). April 2019 WCC & WAC Living Arts Project, Artist Residency Programme, 2017. (Assistant Artist).
Exhibition Review by Aodhán Rilke Floyd. May 2021.
To practice divination is to connect with a universal field of unseen energy that connects everything in existence. The pendulum starts to move, the answer gaining strength in its ever-widening circles…
Anne Martin Walsh
One collates information. If the aim of the natural sciences was to complete an inventory of the natural world, then objective facts (the immense collections of specimens that fill museum stores) had to be first recorded, registered and compiled. ‘Data’ becomes ‘information’ to the extent that it is interpreted or endowed with relevance and purpose. And that information, which is the source of scientific knowledge and research, might be best understood as assemblages of datasets, collections of collections.
Taxonomic classification has been foundational to science as an exploratory practice and it is necessary and ongoing. Yet, even as work continues to build the base dataset of global biodiversity, it has become clear that this glorious project is also to be a catalogue of loss, the scale of which we struggle to comprehend even as the most frightening examples abound. To give two: the catastrophic collapse of insect density worldwide; and, linked, the dangerous two-thirds decline in wild bird populations in Ireland. These key indicators, of course, rely on the comparison of collated indices produced by a century and more of careful survey and data collection. While knowledge, by its nature, is fragmentary and provisional, all evidence points to a biodiversity crisis driven by human pressures – the risks of which are only compounded by accelerating climate crisis. We are living in a time when material civilisation has exceeded its ecological limits.
The title of Anne Martin Walsh’s exhibition, ‘Nature Collated’, is both descriptive and admonitory: descriptive in that the works can be grouped into distinct and overlapping series that take landscape in some form as image or reference; and an admonishment in the sense that, at source, the problem facing our planetary ecosphere is the prevalent disinclination to approach Nature as an indivisible whole with which humankind is an organic part. Information, the mounting evidence suggests, is simply not enough by itself to fuel the motivation for the critical and rapid change that is needed.
The paintings and prints are made in series, each treating elemental aspects of the landscape or environment. The paintings aim for heightened sensory effect – burning forests, crashing glaciers, oil spills in all their toxic, iridescent beauty – and are achieved in vivid colour. The application is direct and the paint fluid and allowed to bleed and pool. It is a technique that tilts woozy, almost to the point of lava-lamp trippyness but one is always pulled up by the intelligence of Anne’s thinking eye – here, deft directional marks turn and curve, leaving burred channels; there, washes of solvent create branching networks of fine line and reticulated edges that enliven the surface.
The compositions fill the frame akin to the ‘all over’ styles of mid-century abstraction. The images invite a play of macro and micro so it is hard to tell if one is looking in cinematic close up or at an aerial drone shot. This derives, in part, from Anne’s working method, with paintings made on the studio floor and the artist looking from above so that the work fills her entire frame of vision. For Anne, art-making is a search for ‘ways to become grounded’ and her practice is both situated in and reflective of ‘immersive experience’.
Immersive experience refers to our bodily sensation of space. For Anne, it preeminently includes the feeling of physical expansion and release she enjoys on walks in the woodland and countryside around her home in Bree Hill, Co. Wexford, and in the daily ritual of a swim in the Irish Sea from which she gains great emotional and spiritual succor. But these are lockdown paintings; not only hosted online by the Presentation Centre because of pandemic restrictions but actually created in the long months of last year. Like us all, Anne found herself relying even more on the internet for information about what was happening – an activity guaranteed to fill one with anxious concern about the state of the world if not total despair at its bleak social and political realities. In our email correspondence, Anne writes that this body of work was impelled by ‘images of disaster’. Crucially, however, ‘these sights are then digested, so to speak, and return through… intuitive expression.’
Social media habits, in particular, run the risk of emotional overload, a feeling of being overwhelmed by information and images. Compulsive ‘doomscrolling’ has become an all too prevalent way in which the phenomenon is somatised. Yet, separated from others and from the day–to–day, we have also seen how communications and information systems unite the world as never before. The only accurate prediction one can make is that, from this point, the issues we face – from poverty and environmental degradation to climate change and social justice – are truly global and that we cannot hope to understand one in isolation from the other. There are many moral and practical lessons to be drawn from this pandemic, let a vision of future global consciousness be the one we take to heart.
The story of pandemic is a story of our relationship to the natural world. The zoonotic transfer of disease occurs because of our incursion into the last remaining wild landscapes. When we degrade and destroy entire ecosystems, we create an amplification effect for the routes of transmission of pathogens whereas biodiversity – the surest sign of ecological health – is the single greatest mitigation or ‘biological buffer’.
This message of Nature’s resilience or capacity for self-renewal and regeneration is, ultimately, the narrative of the exhibition. And, arguably, the prints are the key. If the paintings are elemental landscapes in which images of environmental disaster are ‘metabolized’ into metaphors for urgent transformation, then the prints are more concerned with living in a storied landscape and about the spirit of place.
There are noticeable ‘cross-medium’ links and comparisons: direct imprints on the painted surface plus passages of decalcomania approximate the rough textures so effectively exploited in the collographs; a developing vocabulary of pattern and mark, so that, for example, areas of corrugated ridges and imbricated weave become a visual shorthand for land or earth. However, to my mind, the image world drawn on in the prints has its own distinct poetry: a hawthorn crouched in the lee of the hill; the unfurling fern; the seaside surrealism assembled from beachcombing finds. In each, the compositional principle is taken from a spiral detail observed in the motif. Professional archaeologists might demur, but the association of this ancient symbol with metaphors for rebirth and spiritual renewal seems fixed in contemporary esoteric thought. And, in an not unrelated reading, the spiral might also relate to the looping swing of the pendulum, a tool which plays an increasingly determining part of Anne’s artistic procedure.
Artists must have starting points, very often a set of generative exercises or experimental techniques. Examples include pareidolia, the tendency to see faces in clouds or rock formations or knots in a tree and which famously led to the Romantic poet and artist, William Blake, to stare at a log so intently as to frighten himself. Or the various constraining rules developed by the composer, John Cage, so that he might absent himself from decision making and thus make space for the intangible qualities of chance. Anne’s method is no less idiosyncratic – the pendulum is consulted to answer her questions with either a clockwise or counterclockwise motion. In an recent text on the subject, Anne describes divination as “[t]uning in to this data-conducting cosmic plane”.
One view is to say it simply confirms for her an intuition for which she is habitually inclined. But even for those who might give very little credence to the idea of ‘Earth mysteries’ and belief in the electromagnetic energies of stone circles and other alignments, it would be hard not acknowledge that it is a research method in profound sympathy with her preoccupations: namely, a phenomenological inquiry into the nature of our human relationship with the environment. It is also, Anne Martin Walsh proves to us, the grounds for authentic art.
 Email correspondence with the artist, 28th March 2020.