Ashford In-Conversation: Sarah Wren Wilson and Colin Davidson

RHA Learning

On 13 Apr, 2022

Join us for an artist in a conversation between Sarah Wren Wilson and invited artist Colin Davidson to discuss Wren Wilson's exhibition Spectator in the Ashford Gallery.

No booking required

The conversation will offer an overview to the inspiration and processes that led up to this exhibition, looking at the shift in Wren Wilson’s practice from installation and sculptural form to a primary focus on painting and how this transition has altered her approach to art making.

They will consider the exhibition title Spectator and how this position moves from the artist during the making process, to the viewer witnessing the exhibition.  The discussion will also reflect on the human psyche and various strands of psychology, as Wren Wilson explores the aspects of unplanned intent that became disguised and mingled with the pre-mediated compositions; How this process lends itself to the visual, paradoxical riddle the current work presents and the popularity between ordered, rigid lines verses more precarious and unpredictable mark-making;  How abstraction can operate as a felt sensation that goes beyond any linguistic description.  They will also touch upon the history of abstraction and artists that have inspired the development of this work such as Agnes Martin, Peter Halley and Matt Connors.


Colin Davidson is a contemporary artist, living and working near Belfast, Northern Ireland. Since graduating in 1991 from the University of Ulster with a first-class honours degree, he has structured his practice in themes, and since 2010 his focus has been on painting grand scale portraits, which have won widespread recognition and many international awards. As well as numerous commissions, Davidson’s portrait sitters have included Brad Pitt, Ed Sheeran, Liam Neeson, Brian Friel, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Christy Moore, Dame Mary Peters, Gary Lightbody, Marketa Irglova, Glen Hansard, Mark Knopfler and Seamus Heaney. His work is held in many public and corporate collections worldwide, including Queen’s University Belfast, the Ulster Museum (Belfast), Standard Life (London), the National Gallery of Ireland (Dublin), the Standard Chartered Bank of Asia, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (Washington DC) and the National Portrait Gallery, (London). Davidson’s recent exhibition of portrait paintings, entitled ‘Silent Testimony’, reveals the stories of eighteen people who are connected by their individual experiences of loss through the Troubles – a turbulent 30-year period in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s onwards. This critically acclaimed body of work was on show at the Ulster Museum Belfast during 2015, before embarking on a tour which included the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, Dublin Castle and the United Nations NYC. In December 2015 he was commissioned by TIME Magazine to paint the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, for the cover for its ‘Person of the Year’ issue. In 2016 Colin Davidson was invited to paint an official portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II, which was unveiled later that year by The Queen in London. In 2019 his official portrait of President Bill Clinton was unveiled by the Past President in New York and in 2020 his portrait of Irish President Michael D Higgins was unveiled in Dublin.

Sarah Wren Wilson is an Irish artist originally from Monaghan and a current artist in resident at the RHA/IPUT Wilton Park Studios, Dublin. She studied Fine Art at Loughborough University before completing her Fine Art Masters at the Glasgow School of Art, Scotland and the Turps Banana Correspondence Course, London. She has exhibited widely including a solo exhibition at Espacio de Creación Contemporánea Cádiz, Spain and group exhibitions in locations such as Sinchuan Academics Creative Art Museum, China, Bushwick Studios, New York and Royal Scottish Academy, Scotland. Recent activity in 2021 includes a residency at the Leitrim Sculpture Centre, a solo exhibition at the Linenhall Art Centre, Mayo and group shows at So Fine Art Editions, Hangtough Contemporary and Artform. Most recently she was one of the shortlisted artist for this year’s Hennessey Craig Award.

This body of artwork is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and Monaghan County Council.

Image: Cross Purposes, 2022, 120x150cm ©sarahwrenwilson

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    13 Apr, 2022
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