Do you do contemporary landscape?
Updated: Sep 2
What's this blog about? Lets figure that out....well, blogs became popular in 1999, so I thought it was high time I got with the cool kids. I don't know a lot about blogs apart from Joe Bloggs who was one of my favorite clothes designers of the 90's , who remained under the umbrella of the JUICE corporation, which itself went into administration in 2018. The two tone denim baggy jeans I once lived in are now available on line under the tag of 'Vintage clothes'. This worries me no end, but I realise I have digressed already!
Ok, I'll start again, What's This Blog About? Lets start with the introduction.
My name is Alan Raggett, I am a visual artist living and working in Kenmare, Co. Kerry.
I work primarily in oil paint, incorporating oil bar and oil pastel. My paintings deal with ideas of materiality, process, and narrative. Source material from social media platforms, self-documentation and found imagery form a starting point to explore ideas of contemporary landscape and storytelling.
I have been selected for group shows in RUA-RED, The Courthouse Gallery and Grilse Gallery and solo with Kilkenny Co. Co Arts Office. My work has been presented to the previous Director of the Arts Council, an article on my practice was published in VAN last year and I am a recipient of Platform 31 2022, representing Kerry.
I have based much of my previous work on personal photographs of the landscape and found images. Last year we relocated to the beautiful town of Kenmare, Co. Kerry and at times I have felt almost overwhelmed by it’s varied, untouched, and rugged landscape.
To be honest, I feel that I haven't been here long enough to understand this landscape, and photographic reference is not enough. I have become very conscious of not wanting to take things and claim them as being my own subject. In reality, my only understanding of the landscape of my new home county is as a tourist, I realised then that I had some work to do.
During research, I found a postcard online; on the front, the image of the Gap of Dunloe, posted from Kerry to Thomás O’Sullivan, 3rd Avenue, New York City, in 1904. It simply reads-
I suppose you remember this place when a boy.
Having a very good month,
I obsessed with who Thomas O’Sullivan was. Was he an older man who left Kerry some years ago, never to return? Was he a young man who had just left ready to walk the streets of Gold? How did his life work out? Did he marry…did he have children? Do they still return to Kerry reminiscing of stories told to them of the old country? I looked at street maps from 1916 of New York, trying to get an idea of where he lived...it was borderline stalker behaviour.
Needless to say, I immediately bought it, followed closely by 53 other postcards, posted from Kerry to 7 different countries and dating from 1898 to 1985. The latter being the first year I visited Kerry on a family holiday. These picturesque postcards would become a window of reference into painting the landscape of Kerry and have formed the starting point of my current investigations into contemporary landscape painting.
I have expanded the focus of my practice from oil paint to incorporate oil bar and oil pastel. This initial exploration has acted as a catalyst for new ideas that I wish to develop further over the coming year. The use of oil bars and oil pastel into wet layers of oil paint allows for a whole new approach to painting for me.
The immediacy of these investigations has been realised at the same time as my recent ADHD diagnosis. I am continuing to learn about my life long neurodivergence, and ways to work with it for the first time, as opposed to working around it. The pace and focused engagement needed to execute these works lends itself to my specific neurodivergence, and this is allowing for a more holistic approach to making work and avoiding burnout…which has been an issue for me in the past. It's like figuring out my studio practice all over again, but with more understanding of myself and how I work.
You cannot be in Kerry and escape its landscape. There is something more wild, more rugged and more beautiful around every corner. Part of learning about this landscape as a family has come from making work about it.
It goes a little something like this - pick a postcard, make a painting based on the postcard and go on a hike to try to find where the photographer who made the postcard might have stood when taking the original shot. Join us while we try and get to know our new home along the way.
I’m thinking that this blog will be a monthly offering. It will look at elements of my practice as I figure out new ways of working with my neurodivergence, studio thoughts on current works, and hikes to stand in the footsteps of the photographers that made these beautiful images of this wild and rugged landscape. Not forgetting some of the postcards that were sent all over the globe from this beautiful part of the world over the past 100 years.
In the words of Columbo, Just one more thing...
If you have a moment of quiet screen time please subscribe to my studio mailing list here (bottom of page) on www.alanraggett.com , where you can also purchase available works directly from the studio. The studio mailing list is a new quarterly update, containing studio musings, works in progress, exhibition news and more. I look forward to seeing you there and thanks for taking the time.