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Nuala Clarke: exhibition inspired by Robert Boyle

Acclaimed artist Nuala Clarke latest project is inspired by Boyle's "Experiments and Observations Touching Colour"
Nuala Clarke: exhibition inspired by Robert Boyle

Nuala Clark, Internalum viii

Nuala Clarke's latest exhibition opened on April 11th and is showing at the Custom House Gallery in Westport. Dr Cordula Weiss and Eoin Gill of Calmast STEM Engagement Centre and the Robert Boyle Summer School were delighted to attend to speak at the opening. Cordula gave the audience an appreciation of the life and importance of Robert Boyle, while Eoin talked about the relationships between art and science. The work is a result of several years of study of Boyle's 1664 book in which he gathered all known about light and colour. Nuala followed the experiments and observations presented and conducted her own methodical experimentation into colour.


Artist Nuala Clarke and Dr Cordula Weiss of Robert Boyle Summer School

Nuala Clark,  Internalum viii 45x35cm acrylic on board. 2018

Description from Custom House Gallery

Robert Boyle, the eminent Irish natural philosopher, and alchemist of the 1600s, carried out over many years experiments to elucidate the nature of colour. He gathered these notes together, addressed them to his nephew whom he called Pyrophilus and published them in his 1664 work titled, “Experiments and Considerations Touching Colours”. Boyle ruminates on the inherent or fleeting nature of colour in the rainbow and froth, documents experiments with prisms and darkened rooms, among many other experiments, all to come to greater understanding of the true nature of light and colour.

Boyle uses three descriptions repeatedly throughout the text; Diaphanous Bodies, Shining Bodies and Colour’d Bodies. I took these as my starting point and continued a series of, what I call, body paintings started in 2016. The work titled "Internalum", a made-up word I thought must exist until I looked for it has its roots in "internal (intrinsic)" added to the neuter -um (neither one thing or another) neatly describing the nature of this work. The work maps internal space, invisible to the eye, continuing an abiding exploration into awareness of the subtle body, where colour and form are felt out and structure shifts until a rightness or truth is felt.

Another aspect of the writings I appreciate is Boyle’s obvious curiosity and enjoyment of devising experiments to prove or disprove the emphatical nature of colour in a body; his loose almost hobby-like examination of all manner of colour related subjects. I revel in the run on sentences and terms I must look up to understand. I am using Boyle's text as a prompt and reminder to conduct my own promiscuous experiments within the realm of light, colour, reflection, and refraction. There is a voice recording of passages from the writings to accompany this show of abstract paintings.

“... even when we find not what we seek, we find something as well worth seeking as what we missed.”  Robert Boyle, Of Unsucceeding Experiments, 1661


Eoin Gill, Robert Boyle Summer School, speaking at the opening.

About Nuala Clarke

Nuala Clarke,  a visual artist, was born in Dublin. Received a BA in Fine Art Painting from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin in 1993 Afterwards she moved to New York City. She showed with Thomas Werner Gallery, Chelsea and Boltax Gallery, Shelter Island, NY. In September 2007, she received a fellowship to the Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Mayo and began returning to Ireland from NY to work every year. In 2013 she moved full time to the West of Ireland.

She is represented by Sara Nightingale in Sag Harbor, NY. Her work is held in many private and corporate collections Recent shows include, Amid a Space Between: Irish Artists in America at the SFMoMa Artists Gallery, San Francisco, (2012); to Tremble into Stillness, a WB Yeats related show at Hamilton Gallery, Sligo (2013); The National Museum Of Ireland, Country life in Mayo an installation called, “The Mariners Laundry” at On Sight (2015). Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin Annual show in 2017, 2018, “As above so below”, Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, Co. Mayo; “From Nature”, Ballinglen Gallery, Mayo (2017) OU TOPOS, Claremorris Gallery, (2018), Experiments and Considerations Touching Colours, Custom House, Westport, Co Mayo, (2019).