World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 6 - Angela McCaffrey
In Angela McCaffrey’s recent paintings you see pensive young women, also some men, with a bird on their head or a mammal in their hands or close to them. The background colours are important, they emphasize and support the mood of the thoughtful person.
McCaffrey: ‘In the Ecotone series you see an imagined pheripheral territory cohabited by human and animal. The paintings represent an alliance and broad tolerance between humand and animals. In many of the paintings the figure is represented as motif, hybrid or artifice. Sometimes suggesting narrative or allegory, the images hope to create meditative environments.’
Ecotone is a term most often used within ecological studies of enviroment and ecosysteems. It refers to the edge of an ecological community and also to the transition area between two adjacent ecological communities. Especially the last aspect is important for Angela.
‘Wherever there are transitional places there are possiblities for movement, passage or change from one position, state, subject, concept to another. For me, this point of exchange provides a platform for the characters in my paintings to propose possible dialogues with each other.’
Model and foil
The central device in her recent work is the inclusion of both model and foil. ‘As in the tradition of portraiture or literature, the foil is a creature that often manifests contrasting qualities to that of the central character.’ To give an example: in The Lion King, Scar would be the foil character of Simba. They want different things and therefore are against each other.
Foils have contrasting personalities, attitudes etc. If one character is very outgoing and loud, their foil maybe be introverted and quiet. The loud person seems even loud when dealing with the shy, quiet character. Angela: ‘Within the narrative of the painting the foil may accentuate possible allegiance or divergence between human and ‘other’’.
This theme is important for her because she was always interested in the artifice implicit within representational painting, especially history painting and the scope of theatrical authorship. ‘Some years ago I had spent quite some time working on portraits of virtual characters that are lost, absent of biography or sense of place, and produced the series of ‘Avatar’ paintings.
I think underpinning this was an acknowledgement and an unease about how quickly we embrace new technologies. But the ‘Ecotone’series depicts a more optimistic and grounded relationship between humanity, real space, and other creatures. It also seemed a logical progression to place the figures within a dramatic framework where more possibilities could be enacted.’
The Friesian calf
Asked about her Key work in her total work she says: ‘It’s difficult to say, without saying which one is favored. Perhaps the painting with the Friesian calf is significant as it was a crucial point of realisation for me when I was developing the theme. It was the first instance of a construct made up from disparate cultural and historical sources. It was the point where an appropriate visual language was beginning to develop and when I began to envisage a broader potential for the narratives.'
Angela McCaffrey has been an artist since her graduation in the late 80’s. She studied Fine Art as an undergraduate in the midlands of England. She completed her Masters in Fine Art Painting at Wimbledon School of Art, London.
‘Art life for me now is the beginning of a new chapter. I have up until fairly recently held a teaching post. So now I have more time to devote my own painting practice. I have many more themes to explore and ambitions to continue my creative process, to build a body of work, wherever that may take me.’
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