As an ardent naturalist and advocate of wildlife conservation, with her garden studio overlooking a saltwater marsh in the South West of Ireland, Eilbhe Donovan has ample opportunity to observe and record the fauna of her locality.
Particular focus is on marine birds and their place in this beautiful, yet hard environment.
Her minimalist work captures wading birds gathering in the marsh, seabirds circling over the surf and birds in flight, as well as other coastal scenes. Walking the nearby remote Atlantic beaches and kayaking its rugged coastline, Donovan is constantly inspired by the marine environment she encounters.
All work is taken from own observations, sketches, walks, seakayaking and coasteering rambles, as well as research into birds’ habitats and peculiarities to gain as deep an insight into the characters of the species before starting on each piece.
Working in ink and monoprint on specialist cotton paper sustainably sourced from a historic paper mill in South West England. Each piece is a different size and is torn by hand. Her work conveys peace and simple beauty. No two works are the same size – the image and the subject determine the format and size of the work. The finished image is reduced in size by tearing, a precise process done by hand that can ruin a work if not done correctly.
“The places I go to are pretty inaccessible which is why I like going there. I never meet anyone else while I am there, only birds, seals and occasionally dolphins. The changing tides mean each time one visits, it reveals another element.
On my peninsula, there are more than 25 caves, some of which can only be accessed at low tide, some at mid tide, others at high tide – all looking different also in various water conditions. I have visited there when the water is like a mirror and also when the swell is up 3metres, crashing over the scrag.
Squalls fascinate me – these small short-lived sea storms with a heart of black clouds hovering ominously out to sea.
I think of all those mariners who encountered them, thinking of getting back safely to shore. The ocean is this dangerous temptress, full of bounty and beauty, yet treacherous”.