CAROL HODDER: What Lies Beneath

Niall MacMonagle, Sunday Independent

Inspired by the mizzle and mountains of KerrY



Rough Weather


Though Carol Hodder's work features places, she has no particular place in mind when she begins a painting. "A vague idea or direction begins to emerge during the process," she says.

Her painting Past Remains brings her back to "a house where we were welcomed as children which is now derelict" and, for Hodder, "places that are no longer lived in can still retain the energy of those who have departed - turf left in a shed, bottles, boots". Quarry Moon remembers "a small quarry my parents bought in the 1970s to store surplus mushroom compost".

Bright primary colours and high summer are not for her. "I think that's from being in Kerry during storms, from mists and spending time on the lakes and mountains."

Winter light and skeletal trees inspire her and she loves "to get out in a storm to see and feel the movement of it all, even if the consequences can be devastating. During Storm Ophelia we lost 52 trees on our farm".

From her north-facing studio, several storeys up, she has "a bird's-eye view of any weather".

Hodder grew up on a farm in Rathcooney and still lives in rural Co Cork near the sea. As a child she was aware of colour and remembers making "potions of rose petals" and would "light fires and bake spuds in them because I loved the black crusty skin".

At Newtown School a Gerard Dillon painting had crosses as eyes and "that had an impact on me, as did a school trip to Rosc where I saw a Yeats painting for the first time".

Her "wonderful art teacher Mr Doupe" advised Hodder's parents against art college. He thought it would "ruin my individuality".

She did a secretarial course, worked in London where "I was a useless secretary and eventually became a receptionist at Haymarket Publishing," but her 16-year-old sister Sally died in a car accident and Hodder, then 19, came home to be with her family. She married at 21 and had three children.

Motherhood and the local country market fostered creativity.

She cooked and sold her produce, "foraged herbs, wild mushroom, watercress, you name it" and money earned from selling to restaurants she spent on art materials.

"The urge to paint came on strongly when I was 30" and her first subject matter was red poppies, bog cotton watercolours.

"I loved their wildness, how they moved in the wind but I didn't have the lightness of touch for watercolour and moved on to acrylic and did some loose landscapes."

The tragic death of a brother-in-law prompted Hodder "to try and work out what life was about, from the inside out" and "I painted random works which was liberating from a creative point of view".

Hodder has painted in Newfoundland, China, Connecticut, Iceland, Mayo and Kerry and wherever she paints she says it's "a bit like archaeology, that tentative search for something just out of reach and having to dig deep for it, using palette knives, brushes, my fingers, the end of brushes, scrapers".

In Rough Weather if the viewer sees a foregrounded sea, a dark landscape, an ominous sky, a glimpse of sunset, Hodder open-mindedly says they are "close to recognising something in the painting that might relate to their experience".

And that inspired pink streak? "It came about towards the end to lift the dark sky".


'Between Storms' runs at Solomon Fine Art, Dublin until September 24.


September 11, 2022