‘Atlantic Soul’ Exhibition: ReviewDylan O’Neill visits the Origin Gallery and reviews its most recent exhibition. Thursday November 9th saw the opening of the Atlantic Soul exhibition by acclaimed artist Gemma Billington, in the Origin Gallery, upper Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin. The evening commenced with arts critic, Niall MacMonagle, introducing the exhibition to the patrons in attendance. Following the wine reception, guests were free to view the many paintings on display in the gallery.
“Titling her paintings after famous pieces of poetry and literature, Billington has found inspiration in the works of George Bernard Shaw and Jalaluddin Rumi.” A native of Co. Kerry, Billington studied at the Winchester School of Art in Winchester, Hampshire, showing an interest in watercolours, life drawing, photography, and sculpture. Dividing her time between her house in Glencar near the Skellig Islands, and her home in Bedfordshire, England, the artist has drawn inspiration from the natural world which she has titled Atlantic Soul. Titling her paintings after famous pieces of poetry and literature, Billington has found inspiration in the works of George Bernard Shaw and Jalaluddin Rumi.Having spent time at the Cill Rialaig Project, an artist’s retreat in Kerry, Billington began to focus on her style of capturing the raw nature of the sea and skyscapes, which manifested in the Atlantic Soul exhibition. Working in total silence in her two studios located in Berkshire and Caragh Lake, the artist contemplates the power of the Earth, often finding herself going with the flow of the watercolours. This is particularly evident in the pieces such as Everything That You Want To Be You Already Are and Now I Know You Listened.Through her use of unconventional methods of painting and natural materials, she transforms the black canvas using her hands and “rags of moth-eaten cashmere.” This particular style of painting is featured in the piece Soul. If You Want To Learn Secrets, Your Heart Must Forget About Shame and Dignity. This signature piece of Billington’s work was inspired by the poetry of W.B. Yeats, specifically, ‘He wishes for the Clothes of Heaven.’ Billington wanted to capture the emotional and spiritual intensity of the poem on canvas. This is only one of the many paintings on display but highlights the personal touches in Billington’s works. The Origin Gallery has showcased many Irish artists, both new and seasoned, over the years. With approximately 8 exhibitions being displayed a year, director Dr. Noelle Campbell Sharp, has also founded the Cill Rialaig Project involving restoration of a pre-famine village in Co. Kerry. The exhibition is open to public from 10a.m. to 5:30p.m. until the 29th November.