Exhibition Title: Halcyon
Gillian Thomas was born in Scotland in 1968. She has lived in Peru, London, Luton, Bedford and Dubai. She now resides in Bangor, Northern Ireland. In 1991 she qualified as a Registered General Nurse at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. However, her interest has always been in paintings and she has visited museums and galleries at every opportunity wherever she has travelled.
Her own self-taught practice began while living in the Middle East in 2010. There was a wealth of opportunity to explore different mediums.It was here that she read about Intuitive painting, painting without a plan or preconceived idea. This was fostered by reading books such as "Art is a way of knowing" by Pat B Allen, "Life Passion and Paint" by Michelle Cassou and "Brave Intuitive Painting" by Flora Bowley.
Gillian works mainly in acrylics on canvas and pastels on pastelmat. She has exhibited at the Old Linen Mill in Belfast and at Haptik in Newtownards. Several paintings have been shown in a group show in Battletown Gallery, Newtownards and the Destiny Gallery, Belfast.
I like a good mystery.I find intuitive painting fulfils this insatiable desire.Painting with all the colours of the rainbow, putting marks down, listening, making choices, allowing the painting to emerge naturally and the paintings are different every time. What is this? Where does this creativity come from? I will keep painting to find out!
According to ancient Greek legend, the Halcyon was a mythical bird that bred amongst the waves of the Aegean Sea and whose nesting brought calm to the raging wind and waves. As the Halcyon nested, fourteen days of calm would follow, a period we now know as the winter solstice.
This exhibition takes its name from this ancient Greek legend, which first originated in a myth recorded by Ovid. Integral to the myth is the symbol and power of the bird, an image that is also important in Gillian’s paintings. As an intuitive painter, Gillian allows forms and images in her paintings and pastel works to arise organically, the medium manipulated in a way that flows and settles unpredictably. This natural and unpredictable method, however, often produces repeating motifs. The bird, in its unusual and morph-like forms, is a motif that occurs often throughout these works.
This exhibition brings together a number of pastel mat works and acrylic paintings that explore the fluidity of their medium whilst continually bringing us back to the presence of nature, as their organic forms and images emerge into the foreground in varying colours, shapes and textures. There are marks that might make us think of the scales of a fish or a gathering wave. We can see the outlines of women gathered together amongst tree branches, oval shaped heads morphing into the tails of a bird. These images, which can be picked out and deciphered from their abstract forms, ask us to observe and interpret our surroundings in new and exciting ways. Images that may not immediately make sense begin to open up a natural world that is full of vitality. As in the ancient Greek myth, where the Halcyon brings life in the depths of winter; these works, through their exploration of colour, form and medium, bring a vitality and vibrancy to life that can help bring calm to our turbulent times.