Bealtaine Members Residency
Sonia Bidwell and Fran Woolf
Monday 8 May – Saturday 27 May
For the month of May as part of Bealtaine; Celebrating Creativity As We Age and to coincide with West Cork Arts Centre's Members' Exhibition 2017, this residency was awarded jointly to two of our older artist Members or Friends.
Sonia Bidwell moved through many different lifestyles and places before settling in the Isle of Skye as a sheep farmer where she began to work with wool, spinning her own to knit blankets, and progressing to wall hangings. Inspired by the symbolism found in the poetry of George Mackay Brown she started weaving on wire mesh panels adding found objects to produce complex pictures . After retiring to the Scottish mainland she developed this unique art form, through solo interactive exhibitions using literature as her inspiration. Taking a story or happening, she searches for the symbols, many of them with surprisingly dark undertones, and works these onto a background of woven wool and fabric. Now living outside Skibbereen she is finding a whole new source of inspiration in the wealth of Irish poetry and folklore.
For this residency she will be working on a piece for submission to the upcoming Flora exhibition in the stairwell gallery at Uillinn. Focusing on two distinctively West Cork flowers, Fuschia and Montbretia, she has researched the two men who gave these flowers their names; the 16th century German herbalist Leonhard Fuchs and the 18th century French botanist Coquebert de Montbret.
Fran Woolf is a West Cork artist who works primarily in printmaking, photography and paint. A graduate of the BA Honours Degree in Visual Art based on Sherkin Island, she is a member of Cork Printmakers and of the Royal Photographic Society. Recent studies have included Figurative Drawing at The Royal Academy, London and Painting in Tempera at The National Gallery. Fran's art practice often focuses on a sense of place and belonging and the reciprocal viewpoint that gives to the world and to ourselves.
During her residency Fran will be using the time to examine the increasing transparency of a person, from a societal viewpoint, as people age, and investigating the means to express it. This work is a development of a previous focus on the isolation and connections experienced by farmers working their land alone and people living in remote areas. The residency will extend this exploration to how some people can become isolated and increasingly invisible as they age, although living within a community.
Sonia Bidwell and Fran Woolf will host open studio days for the public every Friday and Saturday between 11am and 2pm for the duration of the residency.
Sonia Bidwell will also take part in a gallery tour on Saturday 13 May at 12 noon to talk about the artwork she is currently showing in West Cork Arts Centre's Members' exhibition.
WCAC acknowledges the financial support of the Arts Council and Cork County Council in making these residencies possible.