Turf


The Turf Pictures developed where I wanted to bring the outdoor scenes into a persons home to connect them with the outdoors. The idea came to take the natural outdoor material and use it as the actual medium of the work, or at least some of the medium, when mixed media was used. Soil, rock, plant materials came to mind, as well as Turf. Turf was in ready supply and easy to use. By mixing wet turf powder with glue, and sometimes acrylic paint, one achieves an easily manageable medium which is poured onto plywood, and then scraped or drawn in by using a pallet knife or some other tool. The effects are raw and powerful.
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Brian Cowan.
Brian Cowan

When doing the Turf experiment, I noticed that the Turf medium lent itself very well to pictures with sharp contrasts of light and shadow, which would suit sharply lit portraits. Brian Cowan is from Offaly, in the midlands, where there is lots of bog, and is often referred to as the BIFFO.

So this picture of Brian, was done not to slag him off as a “F” from Offally, but rather to see him presented in the material that formed Brian Cowan to some degree, ie the material of the Irish midlands.

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Bull Mc Cabe

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Bull Mc Cabe

My friend Neil liked the picture of Brian Cowan, and asked for one of the Bull McCabe which is intended for a Bar in New York of the same name.

The Bull was painted on plywood with some white acrylic paint, and the wet turf placed on top. The Bull is a frightening figure, but one to whom respect is given.

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Dublin Bay from Howth in Turf

Howth Head gives fine views of Dublin Bay and the Wicklow Mountains or Boyne Valley beyond. Cliff paths lead around the coastline, through Howth village and its ruined abbey, and past Baily Lighthouse.

 

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