The painter

“With hauntingly ethereal images, poignant drawings and evocative scenes of childhood, the powerful work of Fiona Dowling finds the artist often present as the subject of her paintings, and yet strangely elusive at the same time. This kind of contradiction or paradox is a central theme for Dowling, who explores tensions between intimacy and freedom, self-process and public display, and ultimately between conflicting aspects of the self. Influenced by the vibrant and human-centred traditions of Persian & Indian sacred art, Dowling robustly embraces art as a magical act where she successively deepens her relationship to herself and, in the process, allows us all to do the same.”

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The performer

“My interest in performance and creating participatory community events was born after attending Bed and Breakfast by Heike Schmidt in the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2005. Audience gathered at the Avalon House Bed and Breakfast at 9.30 pm, brushed their teeth, put on their pyjamas, and picked a bed among the 30 or so bunk beds contained in the large dorm. When everyone was settled, Heike came in with her cello player and they started to play music and sing lullabies from all over the world. The performance lasted 2 hours, after which people fell asleep. At 7.30 am the performers came into the room again, singing a loud wake-up song and throwing newspapers on the beds. Performers and audience ate a picnic breakfast together on a bed sheet spread out on the dorm floor.

I left the show transformed and glowing from the sense of community that had been created, the intimacy and beauty of the songs, the connexion that had been established between the performers and the audience. All this with an idea that seemed revolutionary through its simplicity.

In February 2006, I shared a month-long Residency in Joensuu, Finland, with fellow artist Nina Tanis. As I watched Nina make friends with endless strangers through her impromptu outdoor happenings and distributing cookies and packages to walkers-by on Valentine’s Day (Friendship Day in Finland), I started to question the limitations of my own practice at the time: painting in the solitude of the studio.

Performance ideas started rushing in.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                       Fiona Dowling