Contemporary Irish Artist

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Biography & Statement

Sinéad Ni Chionaola in her studio

Biography & Statement – Sinéad Ni Chionaola

Artist Biography

Sinéad Ni Chionaola is a visual artist based in East Cork, Ireland. She has always been inspired by the beauty and energy of nature real and imagined. Her work is contemporary and constantly evolving. Her paintings induce us to discover more about ourselves.

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 Lavit Gallery, members exhibition, The Half-LightGallery and Co-operative, Co. Cork (2019-2020), The Joan Clancy-Gallery, Co. Waterford (2019), Greywood Arts, Co.Cork (2020), West Cork Creates, Homeground (2021)

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

Artist Statement

I understand to see the unseen requires being in the present and extols the virtues of simplicity in my landscapes.

I observe and absorb the landscape. I paint directly onto the canvas as the sunsets. I sit in the woods, close my eyes, listen. I’m open to the ancestral spiritual energy of the land.  I recreate my experience of a given place – the vitality and essence of the trees, colour of the sky and sea, fields, and wildflowers. My painting style is unique to the very essence of who I am. I paint life and this resonates an emotional response for the observer.

Inspiration: Covid has transformed all of our lives. I walk. I question my thoughts; I listen to my artistic voice. This has led me to overcome loss, reflect on the impermanence of life, and strengthen my inner resolve to shine.

I take my sketchbook for a walk I draw with paint, pencil, charcoal and pastel. I see 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 and a heightened experience of the colours and shapes in the landscape.  I create paintings based on these discoveries.

Motivation: I am motivated by the process itself. I love the alchemy of painting. I love the seemingly magical process of transformation, to be in control enough not to be in control at all, to have a dialogue with the work, and to let myself go with it.

To allow drawing to be part of the process combined with freer expressionistic painting. I love the moments of pure joy when I lose all sense of time and I get out of my own way.

The titles give another layer to my work. They engage the audience, which leads them to discover their relationship with the painting.

My painting is a deeper extension of me. It reflects my personal growth and is uplifting; it welcomes the light and the shadow side.

Influences: I 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. I could not but be inspired by the beauty and energy of nature. Both my grandfathers and parents were teachers, poets, and writers, I grew up with Irish as my first language. I look at all art to see what possibilities are out there. I read prose listen to poetry and lyrics to songs old and new for inspiration for titles of paintings.

A viewing of the work of Matisse in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg during my final year in college had a profound effect on my artistic process as it freed me from the constraints of representational art. I went on to achieve a distinction for my diploma exhibition.

Travel: I traveled to Australia to participate in the International Arts Fringe Festival. I walked kangaroo island in Adelaide and experienced the work of indigenous artists and the Dreamtime. I 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 me. I discovered the joy of doing very quick sketches of the fleeting landscape from the oversized window of the train which transported me from Vancouver to Calgary. I hiked and painted at the Vermillion Lakes in the Rocky Mountains, Canada, and the Blue Ridge mountains in Virginia, America. I have traveled in Europe and my own native land of Ireland