Country versus City – rags, knives and brushes

Keeping Time (study), 21.5 x 20cm, oil on canvas, 2007 by Keith Wilson RUA
Keeping Time (study), 21.5 x 20cm, 2007 by Keith Wilson RUA

Yes, I was at the open studios event at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) last week and I got talking to the artist Keith Wilson. If you don’t know his work, I would describe it as gentle landscapes of fields, laneways, ditches and trees. That’s one of his pieces above. Beautiful. But I was very interested to see the work he’s been doing during his six months’ residency in the city and, as you’ll see in the photo below, it was quite an eye-opener.

Generally I would say that he builds up his paintings slowly over time, using a variety of rags, knives and brushes and generally, he paints what he sees around him in Mayo where he lives. As he says on his website – “I aim to make the everyday apparent, appreciated and intriguing and am interested in emphasising a stillness and tranquility through my work, ignoring the spectacular and getting closer to the more ordinary aspects of a particular place” but these latest drawing could not be called tranquil, indeed, they might even be described as “spectacular”. Such a change, I thought, from his usual work. But then again, I haven’t seen his preliminary drawings before.

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Keith Wilson's studio at the RHA
in the studio with Keith Wilson RUA

The orange drawings (seen at the top of the photo) emerged from his daily journeys between his accommodation and his studio. They were a sort of record of his daily life for the period. Last week, his studio walls were covered with these drawings, some of them orange and others black and white. It will be interesting to see what happens next. Will they become visual information for a new series of finished pieces from the city or will they be the catalyst for a completely new phase in Wilson’s work? For me, it’s always intriguing and always a privilege to visit another artist’s studio.

See more of his work at: and also at:


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