Catherine Tomkins’ work is playful, mischievous, and humorous. Her soft brushstrokes and peculiar, disproportional subjects seem to lead the viewer into the artists’ world entwined in fiction and literature.
“Naturally other painters are of importance. . . But also I find that in terms of drawing from other artistic practices I am brought to literature and in certain instances poetry.”
Catherine Tomkins: Amoeba, Indian Ink on Paper, 2010; image courtesy the artist.
Tomkins studied at the Crawford School of Fine Art and graduated in 2007 with an Honours degree in painting. Her thesis research was largely focused on the writings of Samuel Beckett. The Cork-based artist, originally from Galway, currently has a studio on Princes Street, in the centre of Cork city.
Current Work | Catherine Tomkins
Through the process of working, Tomkins work is guided by intuition. Her work also takes influence from other sources such as historic painters; Philip Guston, Jean Dubuffet, James Ensor, Goya, and Bosch all provide inspiration. Drawing from other artistic practices such as literature and poetry, there is a narrative thread that weaves its way through her paintings and drawings.
“In terms of drawing from other artistic practices I am brought to literature and in certain instances poetry. This I believe is to do with the sort of abstract narrative that comes across so poignantly in writing. It would be impossible to list all these writers and poets but I will mention Paul Celan whose deeply psychological and yet intensely visual poems I find to be uniquely striking and a lesser known Polish writer Bruno Schultz who again is uniquely visual but playful and fantastical.”
Catherine Tomkins: The Adventure of Man and Owl, Oil on Canvas, 2010; image courtesy the artist.
Observation of both people and animals informs Tomkins’ paintings and drawings; birds in particular are an ongoing feature. According to the artist, her primary focus is to communicate something through the work. The act of painting itself allows Tomkins a deeper understanding of what she is trying to convey to the viewer.
“I may be unaware of what it is a I am attempting to say until I paint – that is when I see it. In this world it feels as if there is a wealth of cryptic information and what I find myself doing is pausing, trying to recognise and see things, really see things. Seeing is the endless preoccupation of an artist.”