Chanelle Walshe

Sun, 2020.
Oil on canvas.
Dimensions: 100x80cm.

Ph credit and courtesy of the artist.

I went to The Berlin Museum of Medical History to look at preserved segments of brain tissue. I was struck by how complex and intriguing the objects were at the museum, so still and monochromatic. I had to push back against the stillness and lack of colour and imagine the activity and energy that the object once possessed. This painting is oil on canvas and it has a lot going on, there are many layers of paint. It took me two years to finish, it was a battle but I learnt a lot about myself along the way. 

I like the title Sun because we can’t look directly at the sun, yet we know there is so much activity happening on it’s surface. Similar to the brain, we can’t see our organs but we are constantly aware of their presence. 
My work is becoming much more abstract recently and I am not so reliant on my source material right now, such as drawings made directly from specimens. I’m able to be influenced just by the experience of being at museums and making drawings. 
Spending time in nature reminds me that we’re living in an interconnected universe and I am curious about planets, moons and stars. They have their own energy center and function yet at the same time are part of a much larger “body”. 
So it is interesting to observe this in relation to the current time. Making art continues and it continues in a world that has always been uncertain and insecure. For artists that isn’t really new, we have learned to live and create with this awareness. It’s coming to the forefront of consciousness for so many people now and it is interesting that many are turning to art and nature for comfort and inspiration.

Chanelle Walshe holds a BA from The National College of Art and Design, Dublin, graduating in 2010. She completed a mentorship program with Turps Banana Art School London in 2019. Recent exhibitions include ARTWORKS at Visual Carlow (2019), Hope for tomorrow at Westport Arts Festival 2018 (solo),  Beatland, Pallas Projects, Dublin 2017 (solo), Nerve and Sinew, Custom House Gallery, Westport 2017 (2 person), A Knowing Nature, The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon 2016, Panorama, curated by Kathy Tynan and Chanelle Walshe, Pallas Projects, Dublin, 2015 and Not Life Necessarily, NCAD Gallery, Dublin, 2014 (2 person). Walshe is a recipient of The Thomas Dammann Award 2019 and 2015 and was artist in residence at The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin 2015-16. Chanelle lives and works in Ireland. 

Chanelle Walshe’s paintings reflect her interest in form, flesh, soil, divine intelligence and the healing process. She looks at the human body and the Earth. She has worked from pelvic bones, ribcages, hearts and lung specimens as well as landscape.

Walshe’s paintings give room for speculation as the forms correlate between presence and absence, aliveness and decay. Her paintings depict the permeable edges of forms and how the experience of space and energy can extend beyond our perceived boundaries. Regular observation of preserved specimens, isolated, in jars or on trays has affected her compositions.  Walshe re-activates their aliveness by placing the object upon a platform, in a box or against a smooth surface. They are offered up like a gift or an artefact.

Walshe’s paintings embody an act of translation through sensation to image. Drawing upon a mix of influences such as abstract expressionism, bog-bodies and the aesthetics of museum display, her works harbour traditional categorizations of life and death and formal renderings of objects, yet they have a contemporary sensibility. Her paintings are both unsettling and compelling. 

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