THE HOUSE THAT BUILT ME
Award winning Irish artist Bernadette Doolan, living in Wexford, is winner of the best overall work by a non-Academician 2015, and winner of the Irish News 2018 award for depicting Ireland today, in The Royal Ulster Academy annual exhibition. In 2019 won the Rosemary & co award with the Society Women artists, London.
Bernadette was selected for The Ruth Borchard self-portrait Exhibition, the UK’s only public collection of self-portraits by British and Irish artists. The Ruth Borchard Collection represents the very best of twentieth century and contemporary self-portraiture.
Bernadette explores the fragility of identity in the context of childhood through much of her recent work. Her figurative work is the depiction of the human self through exploration of strength and vulnerabilities. Her work has been described as having an ‘emotional weight with psychological intensity that is not necessarily representing the physical, but one’s internal voice.
Working through painting, sculpture and Installation art, she approaches topics of social conscience with sensitivity and respect, to explore the intangible notion of truth. Bernadette’s work depicts the vulnerability and strength within us as humans. This concept requires exploration and research into connections, heritage, family, and environment.
Bernadette’s work is held in many private and public collections including Wexford County Council art collection, the Irish Ambassador to Nepal.
In my work I explore memory and emotion, those of my past, brought into my present and can influence my future. My history, my experience, my memories.
Robertson Davies, “Let your root feed your crown.” He says, “It means to paint your life. Let it run up through you like a tree that’s flowering and blossoming. It all comes from being true to your temperament and existence and where you’re from. If you do that, your work will be true to all your DNA and your experiences, it will be real and true and original” (Bo Bartlett)
I want my paintings to connect with the viewers own experience, create a psychological pause that ignites a memory, experience, or emotion. My paintings evolve into scenes that depict a snapshot of time in childhood, a space that was lived in and ultimately the space lived within oneself. I want the viewer to tell their story through my paintings. To connect with their own lived experience. The figure within my paintings represents me as a child but also a universal self.
Whether it is remembering your younger self through the imagery of old skates or sitting at a table dressed in your uniform. I can still feel the stiff collar of putting on a brand-new school shirt, the newness, the anxiety, the fear and yet the excitement of growing up.
A few years back journalist Tom Mooney commented on my work and how he connected it with a Miranda Lambert song, ’The house that built me’
I believe our house/ home is hugely instrumental in building us. Whether it is through experiences that challenge us, develop our resilience, make us stronger, nurtures our spirit, feeds our creativity. It equips us with memories, experiences that I believe we can use to strengthen that tree, develop those blossoms through embracing our heritage that Davies speaks of.