Eleanor Carlingford’s latest body of work explores the theme of Leaving.
“I travelled recently to Quebec, Montreal and Boston – over the Atlantic as so many Celts had done before me. I planned the trip deliberately to explore the subject of leaving – and of course arriving which is its necessary companion. I myself am living “in exile” if I choose to be poetic about it, as I was born in Ireland. It has taken me many years to “forgive” Scotland for not being Ireland. Bizarrely when I now travel to Ireland, I feel alien there and that dredges up a sadness from goodness knows where. So, is our nationality part of our identity? At first I wanted to visit the sites where the immigrants from Ireland and Scotland landed in the new world. But I decided against it as their story has other connotations. Their story is not my story. Instead I visited the docks and concentrated on meeting people who had immigrated, made short videos, and sat with myself and my sketchbook. The present political climate in the developed world has the issue of foreignness and migration as a central issue. What better time to turn our minds to the question of belonging or not belonging to a nation? As always with my work, it is the underlying feelings which wash through the individual that are portrayed in the colours and confusions of mark making on these canvases.”
Carlingford is a painter who graduated from The Glasgow School of Art in 2005. Drawing and painting are her big things, but she also creates through installations, performance, poetry and song writing. Her works constantly grapple with the questions how do you know who you are, how do you get the hang of life and how to act and react, what is your identity? Is being Irish or Scottish, Catholic or Protestant, male or female, short or tall, good at maths, fond of ska or world music, vegetarian/grumpy/extroverted/patient/disabled. Is any or all of this the defining thing? Carlingford doesn’t think so. She believes that for the most part people become a version of what they have learned that they are – “I believe that true identity emerges gradually. It takes dedication to hear that inner voice.”