Bio & Statement

Sinéad Ní Chionaola
Sinéad Ni Chionaola in her studio

Bio & Statement Sinéad Ni Chionaola

Artist statement: Visual Artist, Sinéad Ni Chionaola works out of her studio in her home in East Cork, Ireland. At the heart of her practice are an intense passion for the physicality and ethereal quality of painting, and inquiry into her thoughts. This has led her to overcome loss, reflect on the impermanence of life, and strengthen her inner resolve to shine. In her paintings, she understands to see the unseen requires being in the present and extols the virtues of simplicity in her landscapes.

She has always been inspired by the beauty and energy of nature. Her work is contemporary and constantly evolving, practicing varying degrees of abstraction that evoke a landscape.

She grew up in the coastal town of Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Ireland, nestled between the sea and the mountains, in a family that valued the arts. Both her grandfathers and parents were teachers, poets, and writers, she grew up with Irish as her first language. This artistic vein has trickled in the next generation with filmmakers, singers, actors, writers, painters, architects, video-game designers, and stained-glass artists in the mix.

Her influences include Monet, Degas, Picasso, Kandinsky, Klee. Kitaj, Beckman, Chagall, Rothko, Frankenthaler, Eric Fischl, J.B.Yeats, Paul Henry, Roderick O’Connor, W.J. Leech, Hughie O Donoghue, Barrie Cooke, Paddy Graham, Richard Hearns, Eadaoin Glynn, Ann Quinn. A.C. Grayling, Murakami, David Whyte, Patrick Kavanagh, John Banville, Emma Donovan. A viewing of the work of Matisse in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg during her final year in college had a profound effect on her artistic process as it freed her from the constraints of representational art. She went on to achieve a distinction for her diploma exhibition.

Sinéad Ni Chionaola has traveled to Australia to participate in the International Arts Fringe Festival, she walked the land of Kangaroo island in Adelaide and experienced the work of indigenous artists and the Dreamtime. Has hiked and painted at the Vermillion Lakes in the Rocky Mountains, Canada, and the Blue Ridge mountains in Virginia, America. She has traveled in Europe and her native land of Ireland. Her partner died 6 years ago, she has experienced and understands loss.  As a result, she sought out healing for herself and her children. She was drawn to a type of healing that comes from within the body to heal itself. The word for Leigheas, medicine/ healing, in Irish means retrieval, because of this retrieval she has remembered what was forgotten and has rekindled her spiritual nature. Though questioning her thoughts, healing, and the constant pursuit of painting she absorbs these connections between ancient cultures and the landscapes in her work, real and imagined and engages with the ancestral spiritual energy of all these lands.

She was accepted for a residency in the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Canada. Being immersed in and surrounded by nature in the Rocky Mountains was another defining moment for her. She discovered the joy of doing very quick sketches of the fleeting landscape from the over-sized window of the train which transported her from Vancouver to Calgary. Her online experience has  been very positive. Her painting ‘On Pause, has received an award of special Recognition Category for Excellence in Art. This was curated by and celebrated the 10th Anniversary of 2020.

She takes her sketchbook for a walk using blind drawing and gestural drawing, this removes any preconceived ideas of what the result might be and allows a deeper experience with the natural world. She creates paintings based on these discoveries. Amid the chaos of covid, vaccines, and conspiracy theories, she walked. She found herself becoming more grounded as she connected directly with her immediate landscape. She went to her local beach and painted directly onto the canvas as the sun was slowly setting. Her paintings always have to do with a feeling, a mood and an atmosphere with a sensibility that resonates from a place and these characteristics permeate her work. Her energy and enthusiasm for her work define her as she layers acrylic paint onto the canvas in the studio. She enjoys the physicality of painting, to be in control enough not to be in control at all, to have a dialogue with the work, and to let herself go with it. The texture suggests an intimate engagement with the surface and mark-making.  With subsequent meditative layering, pouring, and dripping of paint, she sees what she wants to retain, omit, and emphasize. The result is a composition based on the landscape which transports the viewer to an emotional experience of light and color. She is an alchemist with paint the way a writer is with words. Her painting style is unique to the very essence of who she is. Titling her work is something that she has always felt to be very important. Her titles engage with the audience, which leads them to discover their relationship with the painting.

Sinead Ni Chionaola creates work that both acknowledges loss and is uplifting. She has always painted what is true and authentic to her and lets the light shine through.

Her work forms part of the OPW collection Ireland and in private collections in Ireland, Europe, Switzerland, and America.

Artist bio: Sinéad Ni Chionaola is a visual artist based in East Cork, Ireland. Her career as a visual artist has spanned 35 years. She holds an Honours Diploma in Art & Design from the National College of Art & Design (1998), a Foundation in Art Therapy Certificate (1997), and Distinction NDFA Painting/printmaking (1990) from Crawford College of Art & Design and a Certificate in Visual Education from Waterford Institute of Technology (1987).

Exhibitions: Include solo shows at The Summer House Gallery, Lismore, Co. Waterford (2005), The Private Collector Gallery, Fredrick St, Dublin (2003) and The Old Market House Arts Centre, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford (2003), two-person shows with Helen O’Connell, at The Old Market House Arts Centre (2019), Touring exhibition Explorations with Carmel Cleary, Gothenburg Irish Arts Festival, Sweden (1997), Adelaide Fringe Festival, Australia (1996), National Touring Exhibition, Ireland – various venues (1995) and recent group shows at The Doorway Gallery, Dublin (2019), The Half-Light Co-operative, Co. Cork (2019), The Joan Clancy-Gallery, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford – Celebration of poet laureate John Betjeman (2019), The Half-Light Gallery, Midleton, Co Cork (2019). (2021) include online virtual exhibitions:

Awards include Local Enterprise Office, Trading Online Voucher 2021, Documentation grant, Foras na Gaeilge (2007), Travel Award, The Arts Council (2000), Exhibition Assistance, The Arts Council / The Art Hive (1995) and Explorations, Touring grant, The Arts Council (1994).

Residencies include Heinrich Boll Cottage, Achill Island, Co. Mayo (2004), Cill Rialaigh, Co. Kerry (2001, 2002, 2003), The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Co. Monaghan (1995, 1999, 2001, 2002) and The Banff Centre of Excellence for the Arts, Canada (2000).

Media: TV appearances include TG4 (2003, 2019) and RTE (2007). Newspaper interviews and reviews include The Irish Times, The Independent, The Sunday Tribune, and Irish Examiner.