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Bio

Heather McAteer creates evocative landscape works in graphite, drawing upon images of her childhood locale in Belfast. They reflect on her experience of living through ‘The Troubles’ and address themes of history, memory and identity. 

 

After completing her BA in Fine Art at Belfast School of Art (1987-91) she relocated to Reading to take her MFA (1992-94). She exhibits regularly with solo exhibitions at 571 Oxford Road Gallery, Reading in 2019 and 2021 and a two-person exhibition, ‘Uncertain Landscapes’ (with Alex Dewart) at Flowerfield Arts Centre, Portstewart, Northern Ireland in 2023. Her work has also been selected for a wide range of group exhibitions nationally. These include ‘Responsive Space’ at Modern Art Oxford (2020), ’The Human Factor’ at Star Brewery Gallery, Lewes (2022), ‘RBSA Drawing Prize Exhibition’ at RBSA Gallery, Birmingham (2023), ‘Winter Group Show' at Linden Hall Studios, Deal (2023), ‘Ancient Landscapes' at Fronteer Gallery, Sheffield (2024) and ‘A Room of One’s Own’ at Irving Gallery, Oxford (2024).

 

Heather has been selected for numerous awards, commissions and residencies. In 2020 she was awarded ‘The Drawing Prize’ at the 139th Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition, Ulster Museum, Belfast and selected for a Jelly (ACE/ National Lottery/DCMS funded) ‘At Home’ Artist Residency. In 2021 she was commissioned by the Museum of English Rural Life to make work for their ’51 Voices’ (ACE funded) Project and selected by Waldemar Januszczak as a finalist in the Save Reading Gaol ‘Freedom’ artwork competition. She is the subject of one of the twelve artists films by Reading-based artist/filmmaker Matt Hulse commissioned by Jelly, Reading in 2023 to celebrate of their 30th anniversary year. 

 

The first book of her work, 'Forests of Dreamland', will be published in June 2024 by Redden Press.

She works full-time on her art from her home studio in Charvil, Reading.

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Artist Statement

My drawings on paper depict unpopulated spaces which are infused with a melancholic sense of loss and absence. Following the tradition of Irish artists in exile revisiting their homeland through their art, images connect to the fractured landscapes of my youth during the most turbulent years of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland in terms of personal and historical memory. A limited colour palette and the tonal possibilities of graphite create a haunting, psychological darkness and play with a dichotomy of beauty and menace. A sense of tension is continued through the intimacy of scale and a confrontational, single point perspective where the audience is drawn into my world to look and wonder, but ultimately held at a distance from participating in the scene. In a wider context this undercurrent of uneasiness and possible threat evokes the ‘eerie’ and links to a contemporary ‘Art of the Landscape’ where a disrupted pastoral view of nature is presented to suggest crisis and alienation.

 

Ideas around memory and identity and the ambiguous nature of home and belonging inform my current series of drawings on found paper. Featuring images of Belfast from my formative years, these works suggest a partial return to a homeland, both real and imagined. Existing fragments of text, maps and landscapes from pages of archival materials fuse my own personal mythology with other histories and narratives to present unexpected commentaries and reveal subtexts. These deceptively idyllic scenes engage with the mythology of Scots Pine trees to suggest hope, renewal and healing and explore the parallel journey of my own identity alongside the development of post conflict Northern Ireland. 

 

Heather is an Associate artist at Jelly an also an exhibiting artist with Reading Guild of Artists.

 

Click here to watch a short film by Matt Hulse, comissioned by Jelly, about my work. 

Click here to read an interview with Chisara Vidale from Fern & Glade.

Click here to read an article about my work by Dr. Slavka Sverakova.

All work is for sale unless specified otherwise. To enquire, please visit the Contact page.

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