Mary Wallace has a unique individual approach to art. Intrigued by Japanese culture and ideas, she finds beauty in imperfection, extraordinary in the everyday, complexity in simple things. Her creative style is immediate, vibrant and contemporary. Use of colour suspended in beeswax, paired with pure gold, makes for an opulent visual experience.
"Working with gold leaf is a delicate business. It requires patience and practice to place that filigree just as you want it. Sometimes I feel it has a mind of its own as the gentlest breath of air can cause it to flicker and fly away!"
Her inspiration comes from ordinary things; a simple tea bowl, a flower, a hen, a fish... to create exquisite tea bowls with golden cracks, majestic moon jars with golden seams, exotic fruit, flamboyant hens, cockerels and other creatures.
"Images from nature are assimilated into the depths of my kintsugi bowls in a semi-abstract way – it's like an unexpected landscape unfolds before my eyes."
The Precious Bowls and Moonjar series are inspired by the Japanese artform kintsugi - the repair of broken porcelain with gold: by using gold the flaw is given respect and the preciousness of the piece is enhanced. The concept wabi-sabi represents Japanese aesthetics and the acceptance of transience and imperfection; beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete". This is also reflected in the acceptance of imperfection, change and fate as aspects of human life.
"'The River Merchant's Wife' is inspired by a poem I learned in primary school. I was captivated by this beautiful tale of love and romance simply told by a young woman who is waiting for the return of her beloved husband.The idea that a poet writing in 8th century China can portray thoughts and feelings comparable to 21st century experience shouldn't surprise me…but it does! This is the second painting in the series which depicts the moment when she sees his ship in sight".
Mary Wallace lives and works in Wexford. She has exhibited extensively since 2001 and has organised and curated many exhibitions. Community-based collaborative work is a vital element of her practice. She was appointed as a Heritage Specialist by The Heritage Council in January 2010.