In 1988 Ros & Tim purchased a Clachan, a small group of houses with a farmstead, outbuildings and a few family homes. Over the next 25 years they would carefully restore each building that had lain empty for over 17 years. Ros notes that “Altogether we’ve got the house, two studios, framing shop, showroom and print workshop”. Ros describes the experience as “a labour of love”, using the profit from art sales to gradually restore the property. Shortly after moving in in 1990 they told me how they
“Sold our first painting off a trestle table in the gravel on their front yard”
“A Labour of Love” Ballagh Studio, Inishowen
Since then, Ros has exhibited in venues all over the world. To date, Ros is a Member of The Royal Ulster Academy and the Pastel Society of Ireland, has held major one-man exhibitions and illustrated a number of books. Following a back operation in 1981, Ross would begin a different creative journey. After a time experimenting with watercolor and oil based paints, it was by chance that she would find her preferred medium, pastel. Noting that; “A friend had left a set of pastels behind…. the texture of pastel had a similar feel to clay which allowed for 3D imaging”. Ros described the move from ceramics to pastels was like
Flipping the magic switch
Pastels allowed Ros to capture form and focus in her paintings alongside a gorgeous depth of colour.
The Creative Process, Creating Art at Ballagh, Inishowen
To the back of the property, surrounded by trees and lush green fields Ros has a studio located on what was originally a privy. The studio is dominated by windows in order to take advantage of natural light. It was built by a local builder around a bay window we had salvaged. What commands your attention as you enter is the large impressive easel built by a local blacksmith. At the bright and cosy studio pictured above, Ros provides me with an insight as to what inspires her art.
I love the changing skies, being surrounded by water and I like to capture how the clouds come in low near the sea”. “Initially I sketch, photograph and then paint the scene”.
What fascinated me is how Ros can memorise every shade of colour at a particular scene, often using black and white photographs to paint from. In the initial stages of creating a piece of work Ros describes how she has to;
Get the sky right to start with, and then the atmosphere is fixed for the rest of the work
Emphasising a love of light, Ros explains how herself and “Artists who come to the West of Ireland always talk of the light and that even if it is misty there is a clarity”
A visit to Ballagh offers a unique insight into the motivation and inspiration of two artists who continue to capture the rugged Inishowen coastline and the unique past that has shaped it.Ballagh Studio