My Favourite Room:Painter Leah Begg’s unique sloping housE
Art is a visual medium but many of us need words to find our way into a painting, so it can be frustrating to come up against work titled Untitled or one that has a single-word title that seems to mean nothing or is, at best, oblique. Artists who provide limited titles have their own reasons for doing so, but it is nice to have the option of enjoying an interesting title as well as the visual side of a painting.
Connemara-based painter Leah Beggs loves to give titles to her works and actually collects phrases to use with her paintings. “I’ll overhear conversations or someone will say something to me. I was out walking one day on Diamond Hill in Letterfrack. There are a couple of loops you can do and I was doing the lower loop. There were two lads building a fence and one said, ‘Tomorrow the top’, as in, you’ll walk the top loop. But I thought, ‘What a lovely title for a painting’,”
Leah has a new exhibition at the Solomon Fine Art gallery in Dublin which runs until March 5. Her exhibition is titled More Than Us and it includes paintings such as Not My Journey To Make; Feeling Joy; Candyfloss Sunset; Storm In A Teacup; Old Habits Die Hard and Missed Opportunity. The works are painted and then she attributes the titles; in this current exhibition’s case, the titles are all phrases reminiscent of the last two years. While her stunning works are quite abstract landscapes in moody shades of blue and pink, the titles reflect the time they were painted, a time that has been more arduous for some people than others.
A lot of people have been extra productive too and that group includes Leah. Forget the sourdough, the sea-swimming and the patio-building projects that many undertook, Leah not only completed enough paintings for her current exhibition but she also looked after her two children — with her husband, Darragh O’Flaherty, of course — and was involved in the building of her new home from start to finish.
“We broke ground in January 2020, then two months later, we were like, ‘What’s going on?’ Shut-down. Then when it did open again, there were supply issues or every other trade was getting Covid. It was meant to be a seven-month build. But we weren’t too bad; we moved in in April 2021.”
When it came to the new house, and especially the interiors, it helped that as well as being a trained artist, Leah also qualified as an interior designer and worked for many years with architects; she didn’t become a full-time artist until she was in her late 20s.