Cecilia Danell: The Lockdown Notebook

Wednesday 20 May – Tuesday 2 June 2020
Cecilia Danell: The Lockdown Notebook | Wednesday 20 May – Tuesday 2 June 2020 | Kevin Kavanagh
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“To look:
at everything which overflows the outline, the contour, the category, the name of what it is.
What is the meaning to be found in the visible? A form of energy, continually transforming itself.”
John Berger ‘The Sense of Sight’

When the lockdown happened I lost access to my studio and my art materials. Usually working with large-scale oil painting, I initially felt at a loss when it came to making art during confinement. I went on walks in the immediate area, I looked more intently at spring arriving, at leaves and buds and colours. I’ve never tracked the arrival of spring to this extent, but I missed the act of making, so I started to draw, sitting on the bed hunched over my materials.

When I grew tired of drawing, I bought a black A4 notebook and some watercolour paints in a discount shop and started painting at a small workstation I set up in my bedroom. I have had to rely on natural light as the ceiling lamp is too orange. I’ve set myself the task to complete each painting in one day, before nightfall. Initially, this was a race against time, but the days are getting longer. I write the date at the bottom of each page, the paintings act as a diary, not of a place I’ve physically visited on that day, but of one that I’ve revisited in my mind.

I’ve been reading John Berger, a book I picked up in Paris when I was there on residency earlier this year. In his essay ‘Painting and Time’ he says that a painting is unlike a photograph in that it doesn’t preserve a moment but rather, it contains all the time that it took to paint it. The process of painting constructs the future moments when it will be looked at. There is a timelessness to the still image of a painting. It’s tactile and holds all the brushstrokes and decisions that it took to arrive at the finished artwork. I recognise that process as intrinsic to what I do. When I paint I step into a place that I have previously visited and remember what the place was like. The photograph jogs my memory, but my own experiences of having been there add so many extra layers.

Working inside the restrictions of an A4 notebook page in portrait format offers a certain intimacy. The challenge of getting each painting done while I still have natural light forces me to work quite fast, treating each painting as a diary entry of a specific day. Using watercolours as a method offers a sense of immediacy, as they work in the opposite way to oil paints, going from light to dark rather than the oil painter’s method of starting off dark and painting in the light. These paintings are a mix of watercolour and colouring pencil. They have kept me busy while I wait for my studio to reopen again, they’ve allowed me to transport myself somewhere else in mind while working, and have given purpose to my days at home under lockdown.

Wednesday 20 May – Tuesday 2 June 2020
Kevin Kavanagh
Chancery Lane
Dublin 8
Telephone: +353 1 475 9514
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