Power of progression: ‘Art was a place where I could escape’

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When Deirdre Doherty first began painting, she found it provided a welcome escape from her then stressful career as a social worker.

Her love of the coastal landscape of Donegal and the sense of ‘euphoria’ her works ignited within her, led Deirdre along a creative path that she could not have foreseen when she first picked up a paintbrush.

Now one of this area’s best known artists, the Buncrana woman is to host an exhibition at Artlink Fort Dunree from this week, showcasing the progression in her works through the years.

Despite exhibiting in almost 50 joint and group exhibitions, Deirdre, who is one of a number of artists based at Bishop Street Studios, has only previously hosted two solo exhibitions, in 2015 and 2016.

Her forthcoming showcase, titled ‘Progressions’ is eagerly awaited and Deirdre herself admitted how surprising her career and success in art has been to her.

“I did art in school and loved it. But, I didn’t go into it as a career. I got back into it around 2003. Patricia Spokes(Project Manager at Artlink) and I decided we’d like to do an art class in Artlink. It was brilliant and over the next five years we did more and more of them.”

Fort Dunree pictured from the top fort.

Fort Dunree pictured from the top fort.

The love of art then led both Patricia and herself to undertake a degree in Fine Art in Limavady College, something she found ‘incredible.’

Deirdre explained how she found that art allowed her to channel her emotions, both good and bad.

“One of the reasons it meant so much to me is that I was in a job in social work, which I had to leave due to stress. For me, when I was painting, it was this Heavenly place and art was a place where I could escape. If I paint a good painting, it doesn’t matter if no-one else likes it - it matters if I like it. It gives me a euphoric feeling, both during and after it’s completed. It’s a place where you put all your emotions. Once I think of something, there’s a starting point and I don’t know where it’ll end up.”

Deirdre’s paintings are ‘semi-abstract,’ ‘although you still can get what they’re meant to be.’ She largely paints in oils but has recently also been using acrylics, as well as creating Carborundum prints. Paintings in all these forms will be showcased at her exhibition.

Deirdre, who is a member of Artlink and Creative Village Arts, of which she was chairperson in 2016, spends her time between Buncrana and Tenerife.

However, despite the sea and sun of Tenerife, she finds herself most inspired by the untamed coastline, changing skies and breathtaking beauty of Inishowen, drawing on her personal connection to the landscape. Much of her work bursts with positive energy and colour.

The eagerly-awaited exhibition will feature many of these works, as well as other themes and her lesser known figurative works and fine art prints, which ‘try to capture the essence of someone and their emotional state.’

The opening reception for ‘Progression’ will be held on Saturday, September 7 between 4-6pm at the Saldanha Suite, Fort Dunree. The exhibition continues until October 3 and the opening times are Monday – Sunday from 10.30 am – 4.30pm.