by Kathrine Geoghegan Issue: Spring 2018

Artist's Statement

I’m not that kind of botanical artist who works to a strict scientific discipline.  In my practice, I describe the forms and colours of native plants to convey a message, a feeling, or an emotion. Working in acrylic on aluminium, I build up the image layer by layer, then scraping back, drawing and painting again into the image, revealing details in the undergrowth, and light finding its way through the beautiful forms and colours of these wild plants. My aim is to capture the essence of these plants within their natural habitat.

My current work concerns itself with the collapse of bee populations.  I wish to raise awareness of this problem for all of us. Bees have sustained farming practices as far back as 4500 years and are the most important pollinator of crops and native plant species.  Three-quarters of our wild plants rely on insects for pollination, and bees are most important.  Crops such as apples, blueberries, almonds, tomatoes, strawberries and raspberries are completely reliant on bees.

Without these insects, farming practices would have to change dramatically.  Hand-pollination by humans would become necessary and lead to increases in food prices.  Our bees are amongst the most hardworking and undervalued contributors to agriculture.

Bees are extremely sensitive to pesticide use.  They are also losing habitat and suffering the effects of monoculture. Through my work, I wish to draw attention to this and help to encourage bee-friendly farming practices.  We are fortunate in Ireland that many of our farmers manage hedgerows and field borders well, leaving space for wild plants to thrive.  Could farmers be incentivised to leave larger bee-friendly areas?  Could greater diversity in crop planting be incentivised?  Landowners and householders in urban areas can also help by leaving space for wild plants to flourish and by planting flowers.  Even a window box on an apartment balcony can help to sustain local bee colonies. Could our governments and Departments of Agriculture lobby for a cut in pesticide use? Can they afford not to?

I have walked the crop fields around my home and observed the wild plants growing on their borders. These plants would not survive without bees and our world would lose colour.  The success of our wild plants is an indication of the vibrancy of the bee populations.  My paintings feature these plants. Through the beauty of their form and colour, I wish to convey a sober message.

Kathrine Geoghegan


Kathrine Geoghegan is an artist living and working in Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland. Her current work is concerned with environmental issues, and more specifically, the crash in bee populations. From 2003 to 2014, she exhibited at various group shows including the Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition in 2008. Geoghegan’s first solo exhibition was at Naas Community Library in 2014, and she went on to have a solo show, ‘Jewelled Wasteland,’ at Signal Arts Centre in County Wicklow the following year. In summer 2015, she spent time at the Cill Riallaig Artists’ Retreat, County Kerry, and followed with a solo show, ‘Beauty from the Depths,’ at Dublin’s Origin Gallery. In Easter 2016, she had a solo show in the United Arts Club Dublin, ‘The Native Irish and a few Colonisers,’ remembering the centenary of our 1916 Rising through the plants that grow on locations where blood was spilled. Currently, Geoghegan is working towards a solo show at the United Arts Club in November 2018.