Lisa ODonnell Greater London, United Kingdom
My work investigates the scope of figurative painting based on archived photographs in terms of its capacity to represent a created and manipulated history of women's narratives. Of interest is the idea that in relation to perception and subjectivity the act of creating and experiencing paintings and the act of creating and consuming history utilise comparable methodologies and strategies.
With this in mind, I use painting to re-imagine and reinstate the status and importance of these women’s stories that were ignored by history, while keeping in mind the role of subjectivity and perception in regards to what excluded them from history in the first place. I am not interested in capturing the photographic likeness of an image in my work but more through the gesture and materiality of paint a sense of the person or scene we are faced with. Also of interest are the similarities between painting, memory and history in relation to having a free hand in terms of its selective capabilities, abstractness, fluidity, as well as creative license. I attempt to push the boundaries in terms of the original photographic image and let it absorb it into the painting. My primary focus is on 20th century Irish women’s history.
I am currently working on projects based on The Archive of The Irish in Britain at London Metropolitan University, the archives of the House of Saint Barnabas and the archives associated with Herstory, a project about the forgotten and untold stories of Irish women whose incredible achievements have been written out of history. I has previously made work based on the archives of The Irish Echo newspaper, New York, The Irish Post newspaper, London, New York University – Ireland House, The American Irish Historical Society, Kilmainham Gaol Museum and The Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Harvard University. The process of going to the physical archives and having access to select from an unedited collection of imagery is a central part of my practice as I want to investigate what comes closest to the original source.