Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Visual Art 05/06/09

Whispering Trees: Frances Ryan

If landscape is your thing then the current exhibition in the Mullan gallery, 239 Lisburn Road is for you. The artist is Frances Ryan and her fairly active, experimental use of paint gives rather impressionistic results.

This collection of work was inspired by a six-week residency in Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Mayo where she did much of the preliminary work before completing the paintings at her studio in Co Down. She found herself fully engaging with the landscape and made strong connections with a number of places. Most of us, I’m quite sure, will identify with much of what she paints, especially the sandy coves, green hills and ploughed fields. Buildings too inspire her, buildings like the very familiar School Yard or The Swing which bring back memories of similar places.

Neither is she afraid of paint. She plays with it, allows it to mingle and run, scratches into it, stipples it and dabs it. Sometimes Frances is totally in control and at others gives the paint its freedom and then, like in Whispering Trees, works into it with real vigour.

I love her approach which can create wonderfully soft landscapes on the one hand yet, on the other, she manages to give that same feel to the hard-edged buildings. A thoroughly enjoyable show which runs until June 10.

When I was in the area I popped across the road to the Food for Thought Africa Gallery — just to see how things are going and I’m delighted to say that they are going from strength to strength. While still feeding numerous primary schoolchildren (primary education is free, secondary is not), they now sponsor 108 secondary school places and have plans to move on into third level education.

The paintings are still coming in thick and fast from Rwanda as well as Kenya. They have a number of new artists with some very interesting pieces of work.

Altogether, a totally inspirational and a wonderful example of what determined individuals can do. Have a look at the gallery and while you’re there perhaps pick up a few collection boxes. £1 feeds one child for one month and all the money goes directly to the children.

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