In 1996 Derval Freeman graduated from Limerick School of Art and Design. Since graduating, her studio spaces were based in various locations in Ireland over a number of years including Limerick city, Co. Clare and Co. Wicklow where she is now based. After her second solo exhibition in 2007, titled ‘Urban Trail’, she took up short residency in Cill Rialaig artist retreat, Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry. It was after this her passion for landscape painting developed.
Making art is an integral part of who I am, it allows me to achieve a sense of belonging in the world. Painting is a way for me to investigate and resolve my place in the areas of time and space in which I occupy.
Accumulatively my paintings are like a collection of pages from the visual diary of my thoughts, feelings and surroundings at a given time. I am very drawn to nature and preoccupied by the philosophy of time and the relevance of our existence. My surrounding landscape is of forestry’s and vast open mountains where my paintings are a direct response to that of which I explore, almost every day. The parts in the landscape I am most drawn to are those that give a sense of fragility, such as the frailties in the landscape which reflect our own in ways. I look at the contrast between the living trees and fallen ones, their distant thinning tree line silhouettes and the gaps between where tree stumps remain. Being out in the landscape often evokes a wonder that drifts between the relevance of humanity and the purpose of existence. I like to isolate myself in nature a lot of the time as it allows a somewhat series of ‘dialogue’ to occur through self-awareness, often resulting in strong feelings of the bond between humanity and nature. When I’m in my studio this ‘dialogue’ can emerge when I paint, bringing it to the surface of the canvas turning my responses and feelings into something visually tangible.
Often when I am out exploring I photograph things that would take my interest such as colour, texture and composition. I love how colours can change in different light or after rainfall where the light returns enhancing the vibrancy of colour on the moist reflective surfaces of rocks, moss peat, tree bark and algae in streams for example. The scent of the pine trees and the soft forest bed of fallen pine needles over time, the breeze through the trees and long grass on a warm summers evening to a cold winters morning, all fuel my senses and inspire me when I paint. On occasion I pick up pieces of pine needles, dead dried out leaves and small bits of twigs, where I incorporate them onto the canvas, making them like collected and archived souvenirs. Through lots of layering and working up the surface, mark making, scraping off and re-layering again, I rework the surface until I have reached a place of recognition. Often feelings that I am not alone in the solitary close confinement of my studio result, as if an absurd affinity between the work and I have occurred which prompt thoughts and questions of the work reaching a place of relevance where a conversation finally emerges.