Anna Downes the colleges director of marketing and admissions recently approached me to ask if I would write a short commentary of my experience during my time spent there. I was of course delighted at the request and got to work on reminiscing about my time in residence.
Hope you enjoy this short written piece below, you can also view it here on the Burren College of Art Website:
Alumnus Spotlight: Richard Hearns
It is some time since I worked as an artist in residence at the Burren College of Art, but the feeling of place and the experience of that magical studio setting still remains strong. In May 2009 I made an application to work in studio at the college. My email was responded to promptly, and a date set to commence work. I will never forget arriving in the picturesque village of Ballyvaughan a week or so in advance to look into accommodation for the couple of months I would stay there. The first place I called was to the local parish church, at the recommendation of a neighbour of mine in my home town. It was there I met a giant of a man, Tom Connolly, who serves his local community as a taxi man, mechanic and allround 'go to guy'. After a brief walk I found myself peering through the window of the newly restored Vaughan's cottage, where I would be staying for the duration of my time in residence.
The studio appointment at the college was spacious and bright, and I was due to begin work in the coming days. The college is nestled under the foot hill of Cappabhaile, and at the same time, raised from the surrounding landscape. My first evening was spent peering out the cottage window at the road that runs up through the fields towards the college. I painted that scene of the road, that led my eye towards the unique round tower and surrounding college buildings.
The Burren is an unusual place to say the least, its landscape is full of contrasts, charming and rugged, rich and desolate, plentiful and barren. These sorts of contrasts are meaningful for me as a painter, because I deal with ratios of 'meaningful balance' all the time in my compositions. The play of light and dark, texture against non - texture , colour against colourlessness etc. All these factors make a painting come alive. Walking the quiet landscape and swimming in the sea was a most welcome rest and revitalizing activity during my time spent there. The Burren landscape offers the most spectacular walks, that I always felt inspired work, and helped generate ideas.
Connections were a big part of the overall experience that the time spent in the Burren College of Art offered me. The connections I made to the surrounding landscape, flowers and fauna. Connections made with the wonderful local community, and the hugely beneficial, important and meaningful connections I made with other artists from differing disciplines and places around the world. One such connection was made with artists Sean Naftel and his partner Erin Tracy, both of whom are based in the New York, another with Mary Fennell, a college lecturer in America who along with Sean and Erin have been great supports to myself and my wife during our recent trips to New York City.
I have continued developing my work since I first took up residence in the Burren, and have on many occasions returned to that special place to stay and paint for extended periods. It is a place I will continue to hold close to my heart, as I develop my art and career further. I have no doubt that all the wonderful friends and connections made there will continue to support and nurture my work for many many years to come. The Burren, on Ireland's west coast, holds a truly unique place in my heart. My personal relationship with the place continues to nourish me as an artist. It is a place we can connect, and reconnect once again to our creative spirit. Refreshed and new we spring forward!
The Burren College of Art is an internationally recognised indepentant not-for-profit college specialising in undergraduate and graduate fine art education.
The PhD in studio art, master of Fine Art and Post Baccalauretate programmes are accredited by the National University of Ireland, galway and operated in association with the Royal College of art, London and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.