Nerve and Sinew exhibition at Custom House Studios

Custom House Studios in Westport are pleased to present Nerve and Sinew, a collection of paintings by artists Betsy Stirratt and Chanelle Walshe. The exhibition opened this week and will run at the studio until Sunday, July 9. Tomorrow, Saturday, June 17 both artists will be at the Custom House Studios to talk about their work with Alice Maher at 2pm.

This exhibition presents a series of paintings by Betsy Stirratt from Indiana, USA and Dublin's Chanelle Walshe. Their paintings focus on mystery, magnificence and intricacies within the human body. Stirratt presents a number of works from her series La Maladie and Walshe presents works from her recent series Beatland. Both artists spent extensive periods of time in medical museums and libraries in order to make the works.

Stirratt presents delicate and beautifully rendered sections, such as a hand or a torso on flat backgrounds, often gold-leaf or wax. The works address our underlying revulsion towards disease and decay and the inevitable progression toward old age and death that is the fate of each one of us.

Walshe also works from sections of the body, focusing in particular on internal organs such as the heart and the lungs. Her paintings depict the organs in various energetic states. Similarly to Stirratt’s works, the forms are isolated and offered up to the viewer like a gift or a sacrifice.

In preparation for the making of her work, Stirratt researched historically important medical texts in libraries in Europe and the US, including the Library in the Faculté de médecine Paris Descartes, the National Library of Medicine in Washington and the Lilly Library at Indiana University. She was intrigued by these images because they display a significant attention to beauty in their execution and a fascination with the medical condition that was illustrated. Stirratt’s paintings manifest a personal desire and need for knowledge about the mystery of the body and its processes, but at the same time address our fear of physical vulnerability and illness.

Walshe spent time drawing from specimens in The Anatomy Room at The Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin, The Hunterian Museum, London and The Berlin Museum of Medical History. Her paintings embody an act of translation through sensation to image. She attempts to reactivate a sense of aliveness and activity within the organs. These works harbour traditional categorisations of life and death and formal renderings of objects, yet they have a contemporary sensibility.

Betsy and Chanelle met at Custom House Studios during the summer of 2016 when they were both artists in residence. They came to the realisation that they hold similar artistic interests and over the course of a year they have developed this exhibition together. Betsy is living and working in Bloomington, Indiana. She has recently exhibited her series La Maladie at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia and other medical museums In the US. Chanelle lives and works in Dublin. She recently exhibited paintings from her series Beatland at Pallas Projects Dublin and the Royal Hibernian Academy.


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