Martin O'Connor

Burren College of Art Time, Space & Inspiration

Martin O'Connor


Martin B O'Connor is a contemporary artist based in Lancashire. His work has been shown throughout the UK.

"My imperative to interpret the world through the medium of paint is an attempt to glean some meaning from this present time when everything seems to be walking around on hind legs. I feel that the Whirligig of Time is about to make its presence felt: socially, politically, culturally, fiscally and ecologically.

From 2010 onwards a new direction of image making from previous work emerged by employing a method of painting directly onto the human body and then making direct contact onto the paper or canvas, depicting the human form articulated in ritualized gestures and stances. The suggested human shapes in the images, to me, embodied the notion of totems, or figures engaged in what might be primitive rituals and dances and by 2012 the tribal body and male / female archetypes had distinctly Primitive overtones with life-size figures standing and crouching amid imagined tree – lined glades and water courses, ponds and springs – places that once represented places of cultural significance, where spirits were honored by our ancestors.

The process that gestates my work is essentially an agitation of the relationship between the past and the present, exploring through personal marks and gesture, a symbolic reference point from which to view the ancient or natural world and to communicate the essence of that to the onlooker. The paintings open up narratives often, but not always, set in enclosures of imagined notional natural landscapes.

We live with our present tied up with our past. We value life and destroy it simultaneously and yet have the capacity to be quite unaware or unconcerned of the existence of the soul. This dichotomy is explored in the traditional pictorial form of my painting which has elements of the construct of time in its performance and ritual in its making – the resultant images suggest a primitive energy embracing qualities of ritualistic dance and visionary states. Incidentally the work casts a voyeuristic light on the nature of the passivity of elements of modern life. The viewer becomes a passive voyeur to the dance of life."