Galway City Tribune - Opinion Piece
Artist Pat inspired by lure of the seaOctober 11, 2012 - 8:40am
If her sister hadn’t decided to study in Ireland, Detroit born Pat Byrne may well have lived a very different life – and this year’s Baboró poster would more than likely have been created by someone else.
Pat was thrilled when she was asked to paint the poster for this year’s children’s festival, which opens on Monday.
As it happens, coincidentally, an exhibition of some of Pat’s limited edition works is being held this week in the Salmon Weir Gallery as part of the Baboró festival. That gallery is located in Simon J Kelly’s offices in Waterside.
But Pat wasn’t always an artist. She started out with an interest in the sciences, particularly physics but followed her sister Maria into zoology.
The two of them were reared in the US city of Detroit – in a very industrialised part of the city, Pat says – and thought Ireland was “paradise” when they were brought here on holidays.
So Maria came to the then UCG and when it was Pat’s turn to go to college a year later, she applied for the same course, got it and has an honours degree in zoology.
“I loved college, loved my course and thought I was so lucky to be living and studying in a lovely part of the world. I started diving and that opened up a whole new world to me, which is probably why many of my paintings now are underwater scenes.”
The Baboró poster is an underwater scene and looks like something out of a Disney movie. It will be very appealing to children while parents will appreciate its artistic qualities.
It has been almost three decades since Pat was diving, during her college days but the beauty she saw in local waters is as fresh today, she says, as then and luckily enough, she can draw on those memories to create her paintings today.
She effectively goes into another world when she goes into her studio at the back of her house to sit before a canvas. She usually does a rough sketch before taking up a paint brush and often does one painting after another on the same theme until she gets it out of her system.
“I suppose I am fascinated with wildlife since I did zoology. I love birds and fish and plankton, coral, anything that is underwater.”
Her take on Galway scenes, probably because she first saw them as a teenager with fresh eyes, is romantic and quirky as can be seen in her paintings depicting the Claddagh and the Latin Quarter. These are colourful with a trace of the ‘naïve art’ style about them.
Because she works in oils, her own taste in art tends to veer towards ceramics, sculpture and any medium other than the one she uses herself.
The house is full of favourite paintings by her over the years interspersed with other artists’ work, including very impressive puppetry made by one of her daughters for her Leaving Cert.
Pat met her husband, Salthill man, Ollie Daniels when they were both in college and his work took the young family to France for a few years when the children were young. Those children, Niamh, Caoimhe and Diarmuid are aged 24, 22 and 19 now. Niamh and Caoimhe have finished college and Diarmuid has just started.
For more, read this week's Galway City Tribune.