My name is Audrey Henry, I am from Letterkenny and my paintings primarily focus on Donegal landscapes in oil. I have been educated in the Letterkenny Institute of Technology in graphic design and in the Art College in Belfast, studying Visual Communication. I worked as a graphic designer for nine years in a local printing company. After the recession of 2008, my working week got cut to three days a week. As a way of filling up the extra days that were available to me, I decided to enrol in the North West Regional College, Derry to study Fine Art, which I now have a diploma in.
To my surprise, the insecurity I felt over the way my career seemed to be headed was quickly overshadowed by the joy I found in my painting. Without realising it at the time, the change that occurred for me turned out to be the direction my life needed to take. For the two days a week I went to Derry, I would travel in on the Lough Swilly bus. I loved the trip and found so much to help inspire me. The journey gave me a chance to take the time to appreciate the views on offer. I thought the colours were always fantastic; the skies of blue, mauve, and grey. I actually preferred the rainy days for the atmospheric, dulcet tones. The differing tones of the fields; the lush greens, the earthy browns, the golden hues of crops in season, not to mention the cattle and sheep grazing in these emerald fields.
Each of the seasons brought their own sense of style to the landscape, their own identity to the view. Every passing week evoked a strong feeling within me that I wanted to capture. I was moved to paint these before they would change again; before clouds would move on or mist would lift. I wanted to capture the moment. I always had my camera at hand, and caught the images and the light I loved. Then I would usually paint from a collection of these photos scattered around the kitchen table. On the bus I listened to the folk talk of their days - telling Tommy the driver 'it's a wet auld day', stopping along the road sides for individuals in their rural drive ways I liked to listen, it was easy going happy days, I think I bottled up all I felt on the bus, the voices, smells, coldness, mist, colours, ambiance, Highland on the radio the things I took for granted (or that would annoy me) most other days of my life, I now was viewing in a new light, I was able to sit relaxing taking it all in, perhaps for the next painting it would come out again on the canvas.
The trip inspired a picture, 'Killea from the Swilly Bus', which I entered it into the Glebe Gallery open submission. To my delight the painting was awarded a prize along with other recognised local artists, Redmond Herrity and Christy Keeney. This gave me the confidence to show more of my work in public. The Glebe Gallery has been a place of great inspiration for me, and my definite starting point. It has been one of the privileges in my life to have work displayed there, along with many other talented Donegal artists. To conclude I would like to say the peace I feel when I am painting is like a tonic, it is home, it is contentment. I hope to be able to give back in some way through my painting now and in future developments. It has been important for me to focus on the positive in my life and try and embody the beauty, passion and love I have for my home in my work.
It is ironic that it was the downturn in the economy that actually caused the upturn in my creativity. My subject matter never boring, but ever inspiring through each season. Being outdoors in a landscape scene releases the stresses of life just as the stroke of a paint brush does. The two play off each other for me as they are both therapeutic places of escapism.
I never try to express the way a landscape is exactly, I prefer an impression, it holds much more emotion for me this way, but I do want to show texture, the many layers, moulded by my brush and pallet knife., the heather, the bog, the grass, moss, the gorse, whin bushes, lots to include always. I try to capture a painting in one sitting in oil. I like to use lots of paint with thick brush strokes - the texture, and feel mimics the landscape and weather - happening, it has to be impetuous, spontaneous, for me, a sky can change from minute to minute, so it seems fitting.