Catherine MacDiarmid | Sugar Store Gallery | Free
Catherine MacDiarmid is an artist who reaches beneath the obvious. In doing so she creates more than just a portrait. Whole other identities or personas are captured in her work.
This body of work brings together three themes explored through the mediums of oil, watercolour and charcoal.
“Faces are the most interesting things we see and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t paint people. I am fascinated by portraiture and how much it can disguise or reveal the inner person. The sitter can choose to reveal as much or as little as they want and I seek to capture something of the external self as well as the inner self. It is all really about a conversation between artist and subject. Capturing the character can sometimes be just a consequence of interaction and conversation that exudes once the painting is complete.”
Behind the Paint is a theme that I began in 2014 and focuses on the masks and disguises people have, as either pseudo or assumed barriers. The theme developed from my sideline business of face painting, which evolved from a love of face painting my own children. Having two boys with Autism Spectrum Condition I discovered that they found disguises a helpful tool which displaced themselves from the world around. They always enjoy dressing up and these other personas fascinate me. I was keen to see how much of the original character remains when masked by a face painting, and whether I could still paint that person behind the paint.
Personal Space in an investigation into the notion that you are never truly yourself in a crowd. I am captivated when I see someone who doesn’t quite belong, or stands alone/out amongst others for a variety of reasons. I seek to communicate this in these paintings, sometimes putting my own take on a situation that might be different to the reality of the moment. These people can also have masks or guises that set them apart, like an outfit or face painting, or just a different expression. Are we ever truly ourselves when in the company of others? Are we only true to ourselves when alone?
Catherine appeared in Sky Portrait Artist of the Year 2014, 2018 and 2019 painting Ashley Jenson, Ross Kemp, Georgina Campbell, all of whom chose her portrait of them to keep. In 2019 she reached the semi finals and painted Jazz legend Courtney Pine. Catherine has twice been selected for the prestigious BP Portrait Award, 2001 and 2002, and her work is included in the two 500 Portraits publications, a book by the National Portrait Gallery. Catherine has won various awards including the Pegasus Art Prize in Artist and Illustrators Artist of the Year 2017, second prize in the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists 2016, and first prize in the Brewery Open 2002, amongst others. Catherine was elected a member of the prestigious Lakes Artists Society in 2014 and exhibits regularly in their summer exhibition in Grasmere.
Catherine teaches a variety of art courses at the Brewery Arts Centre and also works leading Art Holidays for HF Holidays and Higham Hall. She has also delivered one off workshops and demonstrations for secondary schools 6th formers, various art societies and Abbot Hall Gallery.