Capturing the Irish landscape

Artist Simon Tarrant explores Ireland in Oil Paintings

Anglo-Irish artist Simon Tarrant returns to his Irish roots for an exhibition of powerful oil paintings at the Linen Hall Library. This latest collection of work has been inspired by Tarrant’s most recent travels across Ireland and succeeds in expertly encapsulating the charming character of the Irish landscape.

A self-taught artist, Tarrant began painting full-time ten years ago after deciding to end his career working in the diamond industry. 

He has exhibited extensively around the globe, from New York to London, and for the past two years has shown work at the Royal Academy of Art. His painting 'Twilight, Birr Castle' (above) featured in last year's Summer Exhibition alongside David Hockney and Norman Ackroyd. 

Tarrant creates 'Slieve League Cliffs I'his pieces by applying oil as quickly as possible on to the canvas, which subsequently allows him to capture the intensity of the countryside that has inspired him. 

In contrast, however, Tarrant’s sketches and drawings (also featured in the exhibition) adopt a more gentle and serene tone, highlighting the sheer range and diversity of the artist’s work and subjects.

A mixture of influences are evident in Tarrant’s paintings, from the spontaneous fluidity of Jack B Yeats to the vivid colours and raw emotion of Howard Hodgkin.

Royal Academician Humphrey Ocean has remarked that the brooding passion in Tarrant's work is 'evocative of playwright August Strindberg's paintings, for their sense of foreboding'.

Although born in England, Tarrant has always felt an affinity with Ireland. Three of his grandparents are Irish, two of whom (his mother's parents) hail from Belfast. 

'Ireland is a place of great inspiration for me,' says Tarrant. 'Partly there is the draw of my Irish family background and the many friends I have here. But it's the country's unspoiled natural beauty that wins my heart every time. 

'Everything in the exhibition is from Ireland. It's predominantly landscape, which is the form that I prefer. 

'Cooley Triptych I''When you go to some of the outer reaches of the Donegal coast, for instance, it's very remote and there are very few people there, which is something, as a painter, that I actively seek. I live in London, but I find myself coming over here to Ireland maybe once a month. As an artist, it's a magical place.'

Following its run in the Linen Hall Library, an extended version of Oil Paintings will be showing at Aras an Chontae in the County Council Head Quarters, Portlaoise. 

'That exhibition will be larger than the Linen Hall exhibition,' explains the artist. 'I think there will be an extra 50 works on show, and many more drawings than I have here in Belfast.'