Belfast artist Deirdre Robb’s recent work for her major solo exhibition BLUE challenges you to take a journey with her along the rivers of Belfast and discover the rivers of your life.
Using river as a visual source Deirdre Robb has created a unique exhibition entitled BLUE, which officially opens at The Engine Room Gallery on Thursday, April 1st at 6pm, showing a large body of works including paintings, installations and experimental prints.
The rivers of Belfast have evoked an emotional response from the artist, subliminally influencing her memories and emotions. She wants people to view this work and uncover how they too have been influenced by the interweaving of water and rivers throughout their lives. “In all of my work I want the viewer to have an experience of something of visual importance, but also I want my work to have an accessibility that allows the viewer to have a recognisable yet private connection, perhaps through their own memories or experiences” says Deirdre Robb. The exhibition will be officially attended by the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Naomi Long.
Robb’s art normally relates to a location, space or place; pushing boundaries to create a sensory experience. Previous exhibitions ‘City’ and ‘Compositions’ related to an architectural, cultural or aesthetic experience of Belfast. When examining the various characteristics of this city, she found she was more and more drawn by the river, water and the many connotations associated with it. This became the inspiration for this exhibition.
Robb has always had a love – fear relationship with water. She was aged five when her young cousin drowned in a tragic accident. As a child she recalls many memories with family on annual visits to Bangor seafront – sea, swimming, sand and ice-cream. As a teenager hanging out with friends at Hazelbank Park on the banks of Belfast Lough – sea, crashing waves and boys. Waters ubiquity; always providing the backdrop, now influences the fragrance of those memories, and in turn the fragrance of those memories influences her relationship with, and expression of water. Robb continues to be influenced and inspired by water on a daily basis living close to the River Lagan and travelling alongside it she enjoys the movement, light and various textures that change on a momentary basis.
“I experience an energy that can be comforting and almost hypnotic drawing you in to embrace its flow and journey. Yet I acknowledge its powerful force that has a dangerous side. It can be deep, forceful and precarious”
Colour has a driving and immediate impact on the Exhibition works. The depth of blues and green are striking and dramatic. Texture also has an important role to play in the development of these visual interpretations.
The strength experienced in the large scale paintings is the evocative colour. The blues in various guises presents an aesthetic of water. She embraces water’s calming effects yet stimulates the viewer through powers of illumination in works such as ‘Finding myself at Creagh Glen’, ‘Deep and Wide’ and ‘I was Lost by the Connswater River’.
With energetic life she has created tones of penetration, surface and flow. From a distance they captivate and draw you in to reveal a charismatic influence of movement.
The smaller paintings are just as effective albeit in a more intimate way. Their compositions are balanced with a painterly juxtaposition of tension and depth.
The installations have a 3 dimensional tranquil effect. In ‘Swell’ the large scale 12ft x 8ft resin floor piece it is as if Robb has frozen a section of water, energised it and brought it life in a gallery setting. It is both contemplative and hypnotic, capturing the essence of the sea from it momentous power to its delicate reflections.
In ‘Coloured Rain’ Robb presents an alternative experience of what many consider to be the cold and unpleasant familiarity of rain. She has somehow managed to beautify it with confidence and affect. The ‘Coloured Rain’ installation is an ethereal and beautiful wall hanging of 3ft x 8ft layers of coloured resin on fishing line, which translates the depressing experience of Northern Irish rain into something enchanting and spellbinding.
The ongoing environmental impacts of global pollution is explored in the ‘Green Issues’ installation of 96 inches of test tubes in blue and green filled with Belfast rain water collected during the months of January, February and March this year.
The experimental prints are observations of surface and reflection in an abstract manner. They question a reality until you arrive at the image which is subtle, tactile and engaging.
Cliff Brook, Engine Room Gallery Director stated ‘We are delighted that Deirdre has agreed to exhibit with us again. This new body of work is impressive and is a great exhibition. The scale and variety of works are not only impressive but are strong and accessible. Her atmospheric works convey a sense of space, light and drama.‘
Imelda Foley, Arts Consultant, further comments ‘Robb yet again has produced an outstanding exhibition that challenges and inspires. Her work takes the complexities of water and transcends it into a sophisticated and exciting experience’.