Margaret Cahill’s paintings are forceful, complex journeys into compelling landscapes of history, memory and myth, with a scale and painterly courage to match these ambitious themes. The artist’s ongoing preoccupation with sites of conflict and abandoned buildings has resulted in a photographic archive compiled over a number of years from places such as Normandy, Eastern Europe and more recently Kosovo. These are the principle source for Cahill’s paintings.
Modern ruins, abandoned outposts of the shifting tide of political influences are re-animated by her powerful juxtaposition and synthesis of the stark and often bleak photographic images, with a brooding palette of thinned oils, that bleed and blend into and over the image, like some elemental atmosphere, creating work of powerful resonance. Cahill who can rightly be described as a history painter manages to create a sense of a place that evokes the real one and yet retains its identity as a place apart – a fragmented memory, both remembered and imagined. Clearly she is also drawn to the histories of individual men and women movingly depicted in a series of paintings based on discarded film found at an Estonian airbase of Russian servicemen and more recently in her own sensitive photography of young men who had witnessed or fought in the war-torn region of Kosovo appear in the series, “Butterflies in Rain” which were part of her solo exhibition at the Artland Gallery in Manchester in 2009.
Cahill increasingly references modern climate concerns and anxieties, natural disasters, conflict and displacement. The paintings invite the viewer to look again, contemplate and engage in questions about mystery and fact, absence and presence, transience and mortality.
Margaret Cahill has exhibited in London, New York, Sweden and Eastern Europe as well as widely in the North West of England. Her paintings are represented in public, corporate and private collections in Britain and abroad.