Scotland-born Ireland-based artist Monica Boyle was able to pursue her interest in painting when Dublin Institute of Technology initiated a Visual Arts Degree programme on the remote Sherkin Island in 2002. This was the perfect location to explore her interest in West Cork’s island communities. All of her work in this exhibition focuses on the neighbouring island, Heir.
In this series of work I have incorporated photographic images within the painted surface. On a literal and physical level they depict the interior of Heir Island - its paths, roads, inlets and, most of all, its houses. On an emotional level the paintings convey something of my deepening relationship with the island and the people who live there.
“A lot of people just look and see skin color. I’ve actually had people ask me was I Black or was I White first. A White gentleman came up to me and said ‘I thought you might be White, but then I saw your lips.’ One girl said to me ‘I’ve been wanting to ask you this question, but I didn’t feel comfortable asking you because I thought that you might be offended, but are you Black or are you White?’ And I was just like, ‘Well, I’m always Black.’ When we were done with the meat of the conversation, she laughed and said something about my hair and my butt gave it away. People definitely let you know that they view being Black as being very literal – the amount of pigment you have. ‘Your skin is White, therefore you’re White. Or are you?’