Gifted artist Yanny takes satisfaction from her life
YANNY PETERS’ parents emigrated to Ireland from Germany in the ‘50s. They raised their children in their home at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains, by the stables at Killeager, Enniskerry.
The breathtaking scenery surrounding her idyllic home inspired Yanny, who is now a full-time artist, painting and drawing meadows and grasslands.
Yanny and her husband Tony Kerns now live on the family site, alongside her mother Wilma, who herself worked with ceramics throughout the Wicklow artist’s childhood. Her dad Gunther sadly passed away in 1998. He was an engineer, whom Yanny said nurtured her ‘practical side’ and even helped her to build a studio at home.
The artistic Enniskerry household, however, now also includes Tony, who is a photographer and takes pictures of traditional Irish musicians.
‘I was very much encouraged when it emerged that I was creative and loved art,’ she said. ‘My mum even taught art at St. Patrick’s in Greystones when I was there.’
She went on to secondary school in Wesley followed by Alexandra and then began to study graphics at the College of Marketing and Design.
From there, Yanny went to Switzerland where she worked backstage in theatre before returning to a sign-writing apprenticeship with renowned artist Michael Gemmell, with whom she now shares studio space at Glendarrag in Newtownmountkennedy.
Eight other artists work there and Yanny enjoys the companionship, particularly that of other artists who have to work very hard throughout the day but can stop and take breaks together.
After returning from London, where she worked for 10 years, she worked in ‘Model World’, once a fixture in the Newtown area, followed by a three-year period of working at the Signal Arts Centre. ‘That was a real learning curve,’ she said. ‘Working in the gallery was interesting and we did the murals at the Carlisle Grounds Wall that can be seen from the Dart.’
All that time, Yanny has been studying plants through drawing and painting. She has dealt with themes from trees and their fruits, peatland plants, to meadows and grassland plants.
She rarely works from photographs but sits outside and sketches her botanical subjects, preferring to capture the movement of the foliage and the environment around the plants.
One of the most interesting aspects of her forthcoming exhibi- tion in the Bridgewater, the culmination of two years of work, is her own unique application of the rare Verre Églomisé technique, in which paint and gold leaf are applied to the back of clear glass.
The art has its origins in central Europe of the Middle Ages and Yanny learned about it through her work as a sign writer in the 1980s.
She also works in oil and watercolour, has experience in antique restoration and does Christmas cards when the harsh winter climate sends her indoors to work.
A member of the Enniskerry Hill Walking Association, Yanny loves to get outdoors and walk whenever time allows, or else do the gar- den with her mum. She loved horses, having grown up near a stables, but no longer has the time to commit to the hobby.
Art is her great passion and, even in her spare time, she likes to study techniques and read about art history.
‘There is just about a living in it,’ she said of the income to be generated by a hard-working artist. ‘But the stress of being on a low income is outweighed by the satisfaction of seeing your work develop.’
She said that to build up a career in the art world can be slow and that one has to be adaptable and, at times, frugal. Yanny, for example, does her own framing in her home studio, and has a variety of skills such as the antique restoration and sign writing on which she can rely as well as painting and drawing. Similarly, she would have an interest in doing book illustration and already designs greeting cards.
‘It’s a long struggle for an artist, but I have immense job satisfaction and I’m in it for the long haul - my husband says I’m his pension plan so I’d better get famous!’ She joked.
Field Work, and exhibition of paintings and drawings by Yanny, will be at the Riverside Gallery, Bridgewater Centre, Arklow, from October 30 to November 2 and from November 6 to November 9.
Growing up surrounded by the breathtaking Wicklow scenery helped inspire Yanny in her work.