Sunday, November 08, 2020

Mary McGrath’s ‘Curlew 2’, etching and watercolour

A group of Kildare artists have come together to form a collective to promote their work nationally and internationally.

SULT – an Irish word meaning enjoyment, satisfaction and fun – currently consists of 11 artists and has adopted a quote from artist Ann Hamilton as its mission statement: ‘A work of art should interest the eye, excite the brain, move the mind to reflection, involve the heart and come at us from an unexpected angle and stop us short in wonder’.

SULT was founded on 8 September (they talked about it earlier in the year) and its website was launched on 15 October.

It’s a one stop shop for those interested in purchasing all kinds of art and the members include stained glass and ceramic artists, painters, printmakers and sculptors. During the Covid restrictions artists were able to continue working in their own studios but, with the lockdown, there were few available routes to market the resultant artwork. They recognised the power of a group of likeminded people and are using their united energies to promote their art through the website as well as Facebook and Instagram.

The artists involved are Margaret Becker, Pamela de Bri, Sylvia Hemmingway, Liza Kavanagh, Lia Laimbock, Mary McGrath, Ann McKenna, Brian O’Loughlin, Mary Ronayne, Noel Scullion and Eleanor Swan.

Mary McGrath trained originally as an art conservator at the Courtauld Institute, London University and at the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University. She’s worked in England, France, Italy and the US and, in Ireland, has worked for the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Hugh Lane Gallery and the National Gallery of Ireland. Her CV includes lecturing to Art History students in Trinity College Dublin and project manager for the Francis Bacon Studio move from London to Dublin.

In 2017 Mary joined the Leinster Print Studio and has since exhibited prints at venues across Ireland and further afield; she paints and draws portraits and landscapes and takes on commissions for both in oils, charcoal and watercolours. Since beginning to create her own art, Mary has concentrated on her personal interest in biodiversity.

Speaking of SULT, she told the Kildare Nationalist that “it was a germ in our mind for a long time as to how we could get together as a group and promote art in Kildare. And then the lockdown came and it seemed an excellent opportunity to put together a cohesive group of artists who would all have the same objective in mind, and to set up a website, a Facebook page and an Instagram account to market our work during the lockdown when we can’t actually put it on show to live audiences”.

SULT, she added, “is wonderful because the artists are so enthusiastic and supportive”.

Eleanor Swan graduated from the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) in 2006 with BDes (Ceramics) 1st class honours and in 2010 with an MA in Design (Ceramics). Eleanor has a successful practice working full-time from her studio at Russborough House and has said that, for her, clay provides “endless possibilities to explore how we exist, react and live in our world today”. She has exhibited nationally and internationally and has work in many public and private collections in Ireland and abroad.

Eleanor, who noted that “art is a very positive thing and it has a positive effect on people”, explained that “we’re not selling off the website, the website is there to showcase everybody and if anybody is interested in anything in particular, they contact the artist directly.

She added that “I always think that it’s so good to have an actual one to one, when you’re buying art in particular, a one to one contact with the artist. Because then they ask them well, where was your inspiration and what was it about and why did you make it… then the piece becomes a lot more meaningful than just buying off a website where you’ve no interaction with the artist”.

And Eleanor said that the group “gives us a platform as well to keep us creating… you can sit by and do nothing or you can get out there and do something and this is what we’ve done”.

They hope to be exhibiting at the Gra Collective Gallery in Naas for December and in March will have an exhibition in Newbridge in the town hall. For more information about the group or to keep up to date with what they’re doing, visit or check them out on Facebook (@SULTArtists) and Instagram (sult_artists).

By Conor Forrest
Contact Newsdesk: 045 432147

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