Video: The Irish Sea and Slievenaman
Swimming and the Mourne Mountains inform mixed media artist Caroline Williamson's latest exhibition in Lisburn
'The light changes are spectacular, the rugged landscape wild, and outlines of rocks, trees and mountain tops are silhouetted against the ever-changing skies.'
A lifetime spent living in the shadow of the majestic Mourne Mountains has not dimmed Caroline Williamson's love for them, nor for her home town of Newcastle, which hugs the mountains to the north.
Having grown up with Slieve Donard – Northern Ireland's highest mountain – never far from view, and learned to swim in the icy waters of the Rock Pool on Newcastle's seafront, it is perhaps no surprise that Williamson's latest exhibition, currently on display in Lisburn City Library, is themed around natural history and the restorative act of swimming.
The Irish Sea and Slievenaman is a joyous celebration of the County Down coastline and the people who live there. A mixed media artist, Williamson utilises whatever materials come to hand when the muse strikes – producing traditional oil paintings on canvas, but also photographs and installation pieces incorporating collage and text – to invoke the shifting tides and lengthening shadows of her homeplace.
'Capturing the layering of the environment became the objective of this work,' adds Williamson passionately, as the Lisburn City Library gallery fills up with friends and family on opening night. 'The splendid isolation of taking in the view, and the visual pleasure of pure natural colour, meant that creating the art work for this exhibition gave me great satisfaction.'
In the video above, Williamson describes her diverse style, picks out two pieces for special mention – one of which references the great many shipwrecks discovered in the oftentimes hazardous waters of Dundrum Bay – and attributes her love of art to her 'handy man' kin. 'I can build things, you know,' she jokes. 'It's not all about paint!'
The Irish Sea and Slievenaman runs in the Lisburn City Library until January 31, before travelling to libraries in Newry and Bangor. Visit Williamson's Facebook page for more information.