The F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council are delighted to present Penumbra, an exhibition of contemporary painting by eight artists: Sinéad Aldridge, Hannah Casey-Brogan, Susan Connolly, Sarah Dwyer, Fiona Finnegan, Alison Pilkington, Yasmine Robinson and Louise Wallace. Co-curated by Dr Riann Coulter, F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Dr Louise Wallace, Associate Lecturer in Painting at Ulster University, Penumbra brings together artists who are connected by their gender, their associations with the island of Ireland and their commitment to testing the limits of painting.
Penumbra can be understood in relation to a number of historical and contemporary exhibitions of Irish female artists, including most recently, Elliptical Affinities: Irish Women Artists and the Politics of the Body 1984 to the Present, at our cross-border partner, Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda. Like its predecessors, Penumbra, seeks to address the historical under-representation of women artists in museums and galleries and to shine a light on the wealth of talented contemporary female painters from Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The historical tendency for women artists to be overshadowed is particularly surprising in Ireland where pioneering female painters including Mainie Jellett, Evie Hone, Mary Swanzy and Norah McGuinness, were at the forefront of the avant-garde who introduced international modernism to Irish audiences. Today, despite the majority of art students being female, women artists are still under-represented in both the collections and exhibition schedules of many museums and galleries.
Although the artists in Penumbra are united by their gender, their dedication to painting in its broadest sense and their varied connections to Ireland are also significant points of connection. Whether they live here, or elsewhere, each artist and their work has been shaped by their individual relationships to place, to Ireland and to Irishness. Ultimately, these artists share a commitment to exploring and expanding the definitions of painting and to engaging in the struggle to create work that is unique, relevant and meaningful.