An edited version of this piece (with a different image) appeared in the Sunday Times Culture magazine on the 5 October 2014.
Maeve McCarthy is a highly accomplished artist who rarely puts a foot wrong. Although some would argue that her appearance on Sky's Portrait Artist of the Year in 2013 was a false move, it's to her credit that she made no attempt to conceal how disgruntled she was at her untimely elimination from the contest.Although she's probably associated in the public's mind with portraiture, thanks to that show and to her rather bland portrait of Maeve Binchy in the National Gallery, there's far more to her work. The move from her Dublin home to the Dingle Peninsula has resulted in a series of fine atmospheric paintings depicting rural scenes. They are mostly set at dusk or later which gives them a melancholy feel. Some such as At the Crossroads (with its spectral statue of the Virgin Mary), Abandoned House, and House on the Hill (see image) are downright spooky. The latter depicts a house with one window lit - a frail beacon in the primal darkness. It's tempting to look for metaphor here, lost in the night we long for the sanctuary of our childhood homes.
Catherine Hammond Gallery
tel: 027 63812
John P. O'Sullivan