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27th March - 9th April 2017

Signal Arts Centre, Bray


Ian Calder's formative years were spent in the shadow of Glasgow's post-war shipbuilding yards, where towering steel ocean-going liners arose from nothing to ply their trade in deep seas and foreign going, in the twilight of the Industrial Age.


Leaving Glasgow as young man, Calder came to Dublin where his interest in the history of seafaring deepened as he explored the music of Irish and Scottish fishing communities, evolving into a lifelong fascination with folk music, songs of the sea, whaling, and the fishing ballads of Ewan MacColl.


In 2012, during a trip around the Scottish islands, Calder came across a trio of abandoned fishing boats on the Isle of Mull. Looking through photos from the trip a couple of years later he was struck by how these old boats, in their dilapidated state, expressed so much about how a traditional way of life, how small communities, how work and society, had changed.

Plassy - Inis Oirr. Oil on canvas. 100cm x 70cm.

In the summer of 2016 he travelled from Inis Oirr in the Aran Islands, through the Scottish Highlands and to the Hebridean island of Skye sketching and photographing wrecked and abandoned boats.


"They seemed to imply a metaphor for time's passing, and I decided to try to express this in painting. Seeing these old boats up close, in an abstract process of decay that can take on a certain kind of beauty, inspired me to work on a series of paintings to fulfill my vision," says Calder.


This subject matter is a departure from Calder's abstract work, and his first love of equestrian painting, but seems to square a circle and represents not just the ageing of once seaworthy vessels, but is a comment on the fragility of life and the human condition.

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