Whether it’s a clus­ter of blos­soms, a per­son or a land­scape, Nick Miller’s in­tense ap­proach re­mains con­sis­tent

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TAKE - AIDANDUNNE

What is it?

Thorn Blos­som from Nick Miller’s Up­rooted se­ries of oil paint­ings.

How was it done?

Miller’s Up­rooted paint­ings can be seen as re­lated to the so-called van­i­tas still-lifes that be­came pop­u­lar in the Dutch Golden Age. In a van­i­tas still-life, an abun­dance of fruit and flow­ers, to­gether with fine arte­facts, serve as a re­minder of tran­sience and mor­tal­ity. Of­ten a clue, such as a gut­ter­ing can­dle, might be in­cluded. For his part, Miller takes a branch or stems from out­side and places them in his stu­dio. From the mo­ment the liv­ing plant is up­rooted it is dy­ing, and the artist is work­ing against the clock. He gives him­self a sin­gle day in each case, im­part­ing as di­rectly and fully as he can his en­counter with the wilt­ing plant. The im­ages are vivid, ur­gent and in­stinc­tive, rather than be­ing made to a pic­to­rial for­mula, as with a con­ven­tional still-life. The set­ting is ap­pro­pri­ately in­for­mal and the worka­day trap­pings of the stu­dio re­main undis­guised.

Where can I see it?

Miller’s ex­hi­bi­tion Up­rooted can be seen at the Oliver Sears Gallery, Molesworth Street, Dublin, Oc­to­ber 25th–Novem­ber 29th. Be­sides the re­cent Up­rooted paint­ings, the show also in­cludes ear­lier ex­am­ples, ex­tend­ing back to 2013, when he first em­barked on this way of work­ing fol­low­ing a four-year col­lab­o­ra­tive res­i­dency at North West Hos­pice in Sligo. In the mean­time, the loss of both of his par­ents en­hanced his com­mit­ment to the process, es­pe­cially when one se­quence of paint­ings be­came a line of con­nec­tion to his mother when she be­came ter­mi­nally ill.


The com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor in Miller’s paint­ings and draw­ings, which ex­tend across the gen­res of land­scape, por­trai­ture and the fig­ure (and he has pro­duced ex­cep­tional bod­ies of work in all three cat­e­gories), is his pur­suit of a lived en­counter with the sub­ject. He cites a quote elu­ci­dat­ing philoso­pher Martin Bu­ber’s di­a­log­i­cal view of ex­is­tence from and Thou: “We live our lives in­scrutably in­cluded within the stream­ing mu­tual life of the uni­verse.” It’s the mu­tu­al­ity in­volved in the ephemeral process of mak­ing a draw­ing or a paint­ing that en­gages Miller. The draw­ing or paint­ing is what re­mains of the en­counter rather than an end in it­self, and the ma­te­ri­al­ity of paint or char­coal is im­por­tant in that re­gard.

Born in Lon­don, he stud­ied de­vel­op­ment stud­ies rather than fine art, and moved to Ire­land in 1984. Set­tled in Dublin, he seemed

Icu­ri­ous about the Ir­ish harp can learn more about this an­cient in­stru­ment. With a lunchtime con­cert fea­tur­ing Siob­hán Arm­strong and singer Éilís Ní Riordáin, fol­lowed by an il­lus­trated talk on the his­tory of the in­stru­ment by Si­mon Chad­wick, and fi­nally, an hour-long be­gin­ners’ work­shop with Sylvia Craw­ford. A great op­por­tu­nity to get up close and per­sonal with our na­tional in­stru­ment. to be com­fort­ably find­ing his artis­tic voice in this ur­ban set­ting, so that his move to ru­ral Co Sligo in 1992 (he re­mains in Sligo, if in a less re­mote lo­ca­tion) was not an ob­vi­ous de­vel­op­ment. But it did bring him face to face with the land­scape, and he grad­u­ally be­gan to en­gage with it, to the ex­tent of de­vis­ing an ex­treme form of all-sea­son plein air paint­ing from the van­tage point of an open-backed mo­bile stu­dio – a truck pro­vided by a help­ful spon­sor. Then as now, his way of work­ing is close-up and per­sonal.

Up­rooted, Oliver Sears Gallery, MolesworthStreet,Dublin,Oc­t25thNov29th,oli­v­


Con­nolly’sofLeap,Leap,CoCork 8pm ¤15 Tra­di­tional Ir­ish vo­cal group from Dublin and Belfast who sing un­ac­com­pa­nied tra­di­tional songs from Ire­land, Scot­land, Eng­land & Amer­ica in four-part har­mony. As they con­tinue their short tour fol­low­ing the re­lease ear­lier this year of their de­but al­bum Bleach­ing

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