THESE DAYS, THERE'S MORE TIME TO THINK ABOUT THE SMALL THINGS. FOR MONTHS THERE WAS A SPIDER LIVING IN THE CORNER ABOVE THE SHOWER, I NOTICED IT BECAUSE I THOUGHT IT WAS AN UNUSUAL PLACE FOR A SPIDER TO MAKE ITS HOME, GIVEN THAT THEY GENERALLY DON'T LIKE MOISTURE. IT WAS THERE ALL THROUGH THE SUMMER AND AUTUMN AND SOMETIMES IT WOULD BE HANGING OUT AT EYE LEVEL OR LOWER BEFORE SPOOKING AT THE SIGHT OF ME AND ZIPPING BACK UP INTO ITS NICHE. THEN IT HAD A NEST TO TAKE CARE OF - A SMALL FLUFFY LITTLE BALL, BUILT INTO A NOOK IN THE WALL. ONE DAY IN THE WINTER THE SPIDER WAS GONE AND WITH THAT, ALL THE MEMORIES OF THE SADNESS I FELT AFTER READING CHARLOTTE'S WEB AS A CHILD CAME FLOODING BACK. THERE WERE OTHER, MUCH BIGGER THINGS HAPPENING AROUND ME IN NOVEMBER, BUT THE LOSS OF THE COMPANY OF THAT SPIDER SOMEHOW ENDED UP REGISTERING AS A TRAUMATIC EVENT INTERNALLY AND I HAD A GOOD CRY ABOUT IT. THE SILVER LINING IS THAT LIFE GOES ON AND THERE'S MORE SPIDERS FROM THE NEST (FOR ANYONE WHO MIGHT BE THINKING OF VISITING - I'LL PUT THEM OUTSIDE WHEN THE WEATHER IS BETTER).
Fresh Ruins: Text by Ingrid Lyons
Kathy's paintings document her day-to-day life and thoughts; capturing vignettes that are part of her daily routine; moments from the quotidian that somehow sparkle with a truth of their own. Barely tangible, they are encouraged out through the medium of paint. This has been as aspect of Kathy's practice for years, to expand on that moment, sustaining it for a bit longer so that its nuances might come to the fore. In these recent paintings, there's a sense of dwelling longer in that moment and maybe even consciously seeking it out - knowing that the patterns of dapples, webs, tiles, folds, hair, foliage will be pleasing to paint and amenable to mesmeric drifting. In these paintings, we can see the contentment of tarrying there - the enjoyment of pursuing and casting these fleeting moments.
And actually, these moments are eked out of a year that has surged with monumental shifts - changes to daily life all around the world. We try to reckon with how the Universal and the Personal have come to be so intimately bound in the experience of daily life and still, we feel more removed and isolated than before. We are dealing with a heightened influx of information and narrative from global media but our own daily encounters have been significantly reduced, pared back to a bare minimum. It's disorientating - to contend with how things are simultaneously so complex and yet the design of our daily routine has become so distilled.
Monumental surges and shifts have also taken place in Kathy's life with the arrival of her baby, Frank. I've heard from a few close friends that your thought processes are altered by the experience of childbirth and assimilating your old life with your new one can bewilder and mystify a person. One friend described developing a fear of flying after the birth of her first child - because of how suddenly the profundity and precarity of life announces itself, throwing stark contrast on the myriad risks taken constantly, up until now.
In fresh ruins we can see how Kathy has incorporated moments, coveted through paint to consider changes in the local urban environment alongside representations of various stages and experiences of life; friendship, companionship, maternal love, romantic love and solitude. Sweet Soap Scrubbed, oil on canvas, 50x60cm pictures a couple of teenage girls waiting on the bus, wearing those boots that were so popular last Summer – adjusting them for comfort or aesthetic. Working for Love, not Pay, oil on canvas, 70x60cm recalls a moment in September when the early morning sun climbed over Sally’s Bridge to illuminate countless intricate glistening webs in the weeds by the canal path. Sweet Time, oil on canvas, 40x30cm depicts an older man enjoying his newspaper at a leafy café window. Two Gallants, oil on canvas, 40x30cm pictures Frank and Kipper side by side, comfortably co-existing; as a former way of life is assimilated rather than left behind.
In fresh ruins we see paintings from Kathy’s walks around the area, from Cork Street to Dolphins Barn and back towards the South Circular. She is accompanied, as always, by her dog Kipper but now Frank is part of the crew and with this comes the heightened empathy of seeing the world afresh through the eyes of someone so new to it all.