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Mary Waters (1957)

Mary Waters

About a month ago i encountered this scarce publication on Mary Waters. I recognized the design by Swip Stolk and was surprised to see that I had never encountered this before. Published in 1995 for Flatland gallery / Utrecht. A surprisingly innovative and typical Stolk catalogue which presented me for the very first time with this artist. Mary Waters takes her inspiration from the classic dutch painters from the 17th Century , but gives these great paintings a personal twist. The catalogue is now available at

” All of the source images for my work are taken from European (mainly Italian Dutch, Spanish and English)
painting from the 14thto the 19thcentury. These images are seen by most of the western world as embodying the best in us. They are iconic and unquestioned.
Coming from Ireland, a country with a long history of colonization and its aftermath, I see another side of this imagery. In Ireland, these Paintings were not seen as our cultural heritage in the same way they would have been by the English, Dutch or Germans. They carried a message of unattainable superiority and lasting authority, culturally and politically. 

This tension, for me is profoundly interesting and I have been exploring it in my work for many years. I have to stress that I do not look at the images in a sequential, analytical or academic way; I am not an Art historian. I can only describe my study of them as instinctive visually led. Looking at these images I have concluded that they frequently reflect the character of a culture more in their aesthetic than in their content. The values or desires of a society are often allowed only subliminal expression. It seems that for most of us, we can only examine ourselves obliquely. “

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