Studio Viewing Room
Online Exhibition Nov 2020 – Feb 2021

setting suns | close horizons

Selected dip-pen and ink lockdown walk drawings
November 12th 2020 - January 31st 2021

setting suns | close horizons
In the studio. Co Sligo, October 2020
A Studio Viewing Room – exhibiting during a pandemic

I often make series of smaller works on paper to nurture my own energetic relationship with painting, experimental tangents for their own sake. In normal times, when planned exhibitions occupy me, these works fill up storage draws and are rarely, if ever seen. Responding to the existential impact of Covid 19 in the context of cancellations and indefinite delays to real world projects at home and abroad, I began to have the urge to open those draws and see could that work have a life in the world. With restrictions in place, the choice to do it on my own website in a DIY Studio Viewing Room is an attempt to adapt to the current limitations and see if I could find my own way to exhibit and communicate more directly from the life I inhabit as a painter on the outer coastal edge of Europe in the North west of Ireland.

Social media & instagram work for many artists, but, despite their usefulness in connecting widely in the world, they also can breed anxiety, alongside a platform dominance and behaviour that does not always appeal. At the risk of furthering obscurity, I prefer to try present work as cohesively as possible in a personal digital space, in the same way I would attempt to imagine a show for a physical gallery.

I decided to open the Studio Viewing Room with – setting suns | close horizons – partly because I like the way that smaller ink drawings reproduce online, and it also seemed appropriate to show some works from the recent months of the pandemic that has affected us all. The setting sun connecting with the deeper rhythms of time and our place in the world, while the horizon calling to reach out, dream and imagine.

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Studio wall | Drawing at sunset, Deadman's Point, Rosses Point, Co Sligo. October 2020

setting suns | close horizons

Selected dip-pen and ink lockdown walk drawings

setting suns | close horizons
The impulse to draw again grew strong soon after Ireland went into its first pandemic lockdown in March 2020. Like most people, I began walking off some of the Covid 19 stress within a two kilometre radius of home. I recognise my good fortune in living in a small coastal village just outside Sligo in the North west of Ireland where we are surrounded by the Atlantic on three sides and an endlessly changing world of weather, sky, sea and land. The spring and early summer had some freakishly good weather that sandwiched the first lockdown, almost to the hour.

In April, as my mind and body began to stabilise in the face of the endless Covid news cycle, I began pausing during walks, to sit and draw. Over the previous two years I had started experimenting with dip pens, nibs and ink, attracted to the difficulty and awkwardness of using those traditional tools with a medium that is extremely unforgiving of uncertainty in action.

In coming to terms with realities of our shrinking world, I sat near the dilapidated
Elsinore House where the Yeats family used to spend their summers in Rosses Point. I was lamenting amongst other cancelled exhibitions, the loss of a major show and catalogue being produced by the Museum de Buitenplaats, a small museum, in the north of Holland, focusing on relationships to landscape and Co Sligo in the work of Jack B Yeats and in my own earlier Truckscapes. The autumn of 2020 was due to have been an outward phase of my work cycle, the culmination of 2 years of planning for the Yeats, and another solo project in New York. Not physically afflicted by the virus, the impacts on life were difficult, but also offered a unique kind of pivot to freedom from obligations or expectations over career and life.

I began drawing; unconsciously channelling something of Jack as I looked towards Coney Island and
The Metal Man (a painted steel figure whose pointing finger and flashing lights guide sea traffic safely into Sligo Bay). I slowly began to release myself from fears, thoughts and lost opportunities, to encounter the close horizons of Rosses Point, the same views that had filled his childhood memory bank more than one hundred and thirty years ago, giving him subjects for early graphic work and the embedded atmospheric landscape forms that populated many of his iconic late paintings

The walks and drawings became another way to inhabit lockdown days, they were something urgent and direct, separate from the paintings and the uncertain future projects that proceed at their own pace in the studio. I often walked at the end of the day to the spectacle of setting suns, which became golden magnets for attention. The sun is a moving target, and drawing its descending arc completed the circle of my own days that start in the sea, swimming at sunrise. I managed to release some fear about the world and the materials I was using, to use the nibs and ink with the necessary commitment to have a chance of a reasonable drawing. The relief of starting to find a new subject and approach was huge, it felt like the return of possibility, and of life energy itself. I continued to draw as movement restrictions began to lift, straying to other locations, on the coast, around the studio and during a brief ‘staycation’ in Donegal before the second national lockdown took effect.

November 2020


Galleries contactable for other projects:
Michael Richardson at
Art Space Gallery, London
Oliver Sears at
Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin

Thanks to Noreen, Reuben and Aaron for family time lockdown

Aosdána for support towards full time practice

Related projects, links and background information

My Image
Setting Suns | Close Horizons

Short video and other related documentary images
Rosses Point, Sligo, Ireland (April-Nov 2020)
Nick MIller in Studio May 2020
Artists' Voices: Life in a Pandemic
Life in a Pandemic: Nick Miller in conversation from his studio in County Sligo. Recorded in May 2020 for National Gallery of Ireland, ESB CSIA Oral Histories. | Listen to interview on Soundcloud
My Image
Related work and projects

Above: To the Metal Man. 2008 | on linen, 107 x 122 cm | Private Collection, Dublin
Related projects: Drawings & paintings in collections of Limerick City Gallery, Irish Museum of Modern Art , National Gallery of Ireland, New York Studio School, and others

Other project links