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Zofia Malanowska, Hilton Miller, Renata Mooney & Benita Stoney: Emerging artists

Gallery 1, Gallery 2, Gallery 3
03 May - 15 June

Four remarkable people who began their artistic lives in middle age or later

Emerging Artists presents the work of four remarkable people who began their artistic lives in middle age or later, Hilton Miller, Renata Mooney, Zofia Malanowska & Benita Stoney.

Hilton Miller - ‘Hilton Miller (1931- 2012) began painting in the early 1970s after walking away from a growing academic career as a statistician at Cambridge and Birkbeck College at the University of London. He had been highly regarded for coming up with some significant mathematical “pearls” and solutions, and co-writing a book The Theory of Stochastic Processes that is still a bench line text in it’s field. He became uncomfortable with the pressure to “publish or perish” believing that publication should follow discovery of a true ‘pearl” rather than a need to fuel academia. He left to become a consultant statistician for the Insurance industry and began drawing and painting. As his interest grew, he began to work part-time to enable him to devote himself to painting. His approach to art mirrored the purity of his understanding of mathematics, not seeking a ‘career’ which he felt would disturb and interfere with the crucible of true discovery in the studio, but to work with reserved and persistent dedication towards silent painted solutions. His somewhat unorthodox, quiet and hermetic way of life was made possible through the support of Riva, his wife, who lives and works with parallel vigour in the outer world.’ - From an introduction to a catalogue of Hilton Miller’s work written by his son, painter Nick Miller. Nick will talk about his father’s work on the evening of the exhibition opening.

Renata Mooney - ‘Through the acts of both drawing and painting, (where both are held up as equal in value), Renata Mooney strives for a deeper and truer understanding of both the world around her and who she is. Her life and insights are reflected within what she draws and paints. Renata Mooney’s work shows ongoing concerns through a developed and extended means of application. We are made aware of her joy and rigour in the use of paint. The experiences of a long life and alertness to the present surface through an open involvement, which allows for changes and alterations. She is at home with taking risks and experimentation, knowing it aids development and opens the possibility of arriving at truth – because truth in seeing, feeling and doing matter and invest the works with a quality to be felt and to last. Renata Mooney works with great determination, in a disused garage at the rear of her house in Annalong, County Down. Each day is a fresh start - a new beginning.’ - From an introduction to a catalogue of Renata Mooney’s work written by painter Paddy McCann. 

The Warsaw-based, Zofia Malanowska began her prolific career in fine art embroidery in her 70s and is working steadily today well into her ninth decade. Here is an excerpt from an article exhibition curator, Alice Lyons, wrote on the artist for Verge magazine in 2010: Mrs. Malanowska is a very old woman now, 95 years old. She has lived through quite an epoch in a very unlucky spot on the map of Europe, and her life story is the stuff of screenplays. In fact, we could never really know what she has lived through. But the important point for us is that in one year in her eighth decade of life, Mrs. Malanowska took up a life in visual art. She began to embroider tiny pictures, not with the usual thick embroidery thread, but with flimsy, thin ordinary sewing thread and tiny needles. She lives in a typical 1970s housing block in Warsaw; thus, the gray view out her window to the snowy courtyard with the thin winter trees became a subject. Sometimes she tears out photos from Gazeta Wyborcza as starting points. She works five hours every day in her studio–the second bedroom in her flat. She said she goes to bed each night with joy thinking of the next day’s work. Her little thread pictures reveal a remarkable quality of bravura (tiny), inventiveness and earnest searching.

Benita Stoney - In the text below Benita tells her story. For me it was always either words or paint. But the words took over, for one reason and another, and so instead of going to art school, I went to university and wandered off for the next twenty-five years down a vaguely academic path that took me into publishing, editing, history, and biography, wondering all the time what I would do when I grew up. If writing belonged to my head, painting belonged to my heart. I kept returning to painting the landscapes which were closely bound up with my sense of home and belonging in County Mayo, and which had helped me through some very dark periods in the 1980s. But when I came to a halt in the writing, and turned back to the landscapes at the end of the last century, I found that they had lost their sense of nourishment, and seemed like empty stages, waiting for something to happen. I didn’t know how to make it happen, so I went back to school and took a degree in Fine Art from GMIT at Castlebar Campus. It was during my studies for the degree that I came unexpectedly, and by uncertain steps, to portrait painting. Two important influences shaped the form the portraits took; the first was the great Lucian Freud retrospective in 2002, the second was a trip to Brussels to look at early Flemish painters. Since graduating in 2006 my work has been selected for the prestigious BP Portrait Award exhibition, from a worldwide entry, and for the Davy Portrait Award exhibition, open to Irish artists. In 2011 my portrait Nicola 2009’ won the Changing Faces Award at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in London, a major award, and in 2012 I was invited to show the result of the prize: my commissioned portrait of Simon Weston. Since 2004 I have exhibited consistently at the RHA, where I have been the recipient of the Jorgensen Fine Art Award. I paint portraits to commission and by my own selection.