Celebrating Clare Henderson & James Kirwan

Clare Henderson and James Kirwan

Clare Henderson and James Kirwan have been friends for many years, making it very special to host this joint exhibition in SO Fine Art Editions. Both artists have created such unique and evocative work, yet similar to all good friendships, the works compliment and converse with one another’s on the wall, allowing the viewer to feel invited into this compelling dialogue.

To celebrate their work and mutual admiration we asked them to tell us something that they particularly like about each other’s work.

Clare – I still have some pieces James did in college and from his first show and I get such a kick out of the humour and consideration that seeps out of them. I love his signature palette of greens, and how he weaves all the other colours of nature into that. It’s a balancing act for him for sure – through colour and composition, but also style. I’m fascinated by his pieces like ‘Bando’ that feature a beautifully rendered billowing bungalow combined with abstractions of nature and beyond.

James – I have watched Clare’s work evolve over the years, she really is a master of her own style, technique and vision now. Her work holds your gaze the same way you would look out over an Irish landscape or seascape. It has a stillness, a quietness to it, that is calming and meditative. There is an obvious distance and misty illusion to her pieces, you can almost feel the damp in the air. I really love how she is introducing more colours into the work, hints of soft green land and warm pink sunlight. This is yet again a visible evolution in Clare’s art, which is a commendable progression in my eyes.

And then we asked about their view on their own work…
We asked if they have a favourite piece, or favourite part of one of their own artworks, in this exhibition?

James – Two pieces of my own work that are close favourites for me are ‘Bando’ and ‘Distant Rumble’. ‘Bando’ is a classic example of a canvas that probably started a year or longer ago and gradually changed with added layers and marks. I do this a lot with multiple works, as I make alterations then put it away for some time only to bring it back out eventually and so on. I decided to add the abandoned house towards the end of completion. It is a theme that I have recently revisited, old run down houses that I spot while driving around, mostly in the West of Ireland. ‘Distant Rumble’ is another good example of a canvas that repeatedly changed so many times, until I introduced the image of an erupting volcano, which in turn brought a certain order into the chaos. Both these pieces, as well as with most of my work all go through a long process of me almost wrestling with myself, colour, decision making, until they reach a moment where I know they are done.

Clare – That’s like asking do you have a favourite child! So obviously, “I love them all equally” is the official answer. I do, however, have some that I’m more proud of because I feel like I really figured something out in the completion of them. I like the ‘Connemara’ series of monoprints because as I’m writing this I’m looking out my window at those same half there misty mountains. But I’m most proud of the chine colle composite pieces ‘To Meet the Sky’s because they took me an age to figure out and complete, and so when they worked out I was just so pleased. They are the largest prints I’ve ever made. The metal leafing, which came afterwards as a way to highlight my imperfections, is completely new to me and even though finicky, is also quite fun. It feels quite ancient and meditative to me, which are things that often draw me to a process.

Their exhibition ‘Thin Places’ continues in the gallery until the 21st October, 2023 and all the works can be viewed on our website here.