Artist Pauline draws inspiration from Spain to Australia

Brought up in Co Louth but based in Co Down, artist Pauline McNulty takes inspiration from the pilgrimage route of the Camino de Santiago in Spain and Aboriginal art in Australia. With an exhibition now on display in Castlewellan, she talks to Brian Campbell

Pauline McNulty's current exhibition is on display at Hillyard House in Castlewellan Picture by Mal McCann

AWARD-winning artist and photographer Pauline McNulty likes to get up close and personal with nature when she gets to work on a piece.

“Some years ago, I walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain and just loved the wide empty skies and the solitude and also all the tiny flowers and little butterflies,” she says.

“I once tripped and fell as I walked along a dusty path, and as I lay there I saw a stick insect, right up close to my face – so beautiful that I nearly kissed him!”

The Camino is a theme that inspires and runs through the artist's work. Having grown up in Dundalk, McNulty now lives in Newcastle, Co Down, and has just launched a new exhibition of her work in Hillyard House, Castlewellan – at the entrance to Castlewellan Forest Park.

“It doesn't have a title but there is a theme: journeys,” she says. “For some of the pieces, I studied the Aboriginal culture, and use the 'dots' techniques used, which I have adapted to an Irish mode; it's time-consuming but effective.”

As someone who is equally adept at painting, pottery (using shells, stones and other natural materials) and photography, she says painting is definitely the most time-consuming of the disciplines.

“I usually spend two to three months planning a piece and then start. One piece took six months. In terms of the pottery, I spent nearly a year planning and making mistakes in trying to make geckos, before I made one I was satisfied with. I would call my style eclectic.”

McNulty was always encouraged to show off her artistic side growing up but didn't start painting in earnest until she reached her forties. “I also loved sport, so I had been too busy running up and down mountains.”

And she says she took a renewed interest in art after being diagnosed with Parkinson's 11 years ago.

“In the last few years I have exhibited in Newcastle and have been invited to exhibit in Sydney and in Santiago, but I had to decline as I think it would be a bit too much for Mr Parkinson, who comes everywhere with me!”


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