Cecilia Danell's exhibition Brush Lightly Through Fireweed Forests encompasses large, hand-tufted rugs and paintings inspired by her own encounters with the landscape of the area in Sweden where she grew up. In her process based practice, research into landscape and the psychology of place is coupled with a strong interest in materiality and making. Treating the landscape as an extension of the Self, Danell's research takes in classic speculative fiction and Science-Fiction novels, with special focus on how the natural world is rendered in these stories and how it ties in with the human urge to find solace in a primeval landscape, although wilderness is mostly a construct. The notion of constructing narratives particularly interests the artist and in her journeys through the real landscape she’s drawn to settings that have a theatrical, enchanted feel. Historical, water-filled mine holes could be portals into other worlds, a piece of driftwood resembles an ancient, petrified sea creature, there are thickets abundant with fireweed and a tree trunk blazingly illuminated by the winter sun. Although real locations act as the starting point, the process of selecting and rendering each scene creates something separate, more closely related to storybooks and dream imagery. The departure into large-scale rug tufting saw Danell convert her studio into a temporary tufting workshop for the duration of the spring, resulting in two hand-tufted works with a framing reminiscent of theatre scenery, where the tactility of the yarn adds another dimension to the rendering of moss and grasses. The scale of these new works; paintings and rugs, invite the viewer to step into the scene, finding themselves somewhere between reality and fiction.
Cecilia Danell is the 2022 recipient of the RHA Hennessy Craig Award for painting, the ESB Keating Award at the 190th RHA Annual Exhibition, a 2017 Arts Council Next Generation Award and the 2011 Wexford Arts Centre Emergence Award and has received several bursary and project awards from the Arts Council. Recent exhibitions include: ‘GENERATION2022: New Irish Painting’ Butler Gallery, Kilkenny (2022), ‘Parklife’ The Glucksman, Cork (2022), ‘Tactile Terrain’ (solo), Luan Gallery, Athlone (2022), The Hennessy Craig Award Exhibition, RHA, Dublin (2022), ‘I Trust The Quiet’ (solo), Burren College of Art Gallery, Co Clare (2021), ‘Mise en scène’, Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris (2021), I set a Bait for the Unknown' (solo), Kevin Kavanagh, Dublin (2020), 'In a Landscape' (solo) Ashford Gallery, RHA, Dublin (2019), 'Winter Wanderer' (solo), Kevin Kavanagh, Dublin (2019), 'Futures - Series 3 Episode 2' RHA, Dublin (2018). Residencies include Ballinglen Arts Foundation (2021), Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris (2020) and the Nordic Artists’ Centre Dale, Norway (2016). Her work is in several public collections including the Arts Council, Trinity College, Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Galway City Council, Wexford County Council, Motala Municipal Council, Sweden and the Office of Public Works as well as private collections in Ireland, UK, Sweden, Canada, France and Norway. A book on Danell’s work with an essay by Cristín Leach was published by Kevin Kavanagh in 2021.
The artist would like to thank Connemara Carpets for help with mounting of the tufted rugs and the Arts Council for helping her fund equipment through the Agility Award.
Please join us for 'In Conversation' with Cecilia Danell and Cristín Leach on the 27th September at 6pm.