ABOUT RUTH MCCABE
The brooding wildness of Pennine moors and dense, dark structures of industrial West Yorkshire were the setting of Ruth's childhood. Now living in Suffolk, undramatic agricultural landscapes and this easterly, edgy and vulnerable coastline add to her mind's store of energies.
The natural world in all its shapes, forms and climates: classically beautiful or scarred by industry are an inspiration. Emptiness, quiet, a sense of remoteness and solitude are conveyed in her contemplative watercolours, the oils picking up on other energies: joy, passion, conflict.
A first degree in Botany and Zoology taught her to look carefully and began a life-long deepening appreciation of the immense complexity of form and function in living things. It also began training the eye and brain to make marks to record these forms.
Thirty years then elapsed where mark-making 'went underground' to become an activity within the mind during her training and work in psychotherapy. During these years, Ruth grew in her ability to stay with uncertainty: not expect to 'know' the course that her work would take over time and trust that ways forward would reveal themselves.
On moving to Suffolk, mark-making re-emerged, with Julie Noad (oil painter) as a mentor. Since 2011 she has largely made her own journey in an instinctive way.
After sketching outdoors, work in the studio is more interpretive, evolving much as the work Ruth did as a Group Analytic Psychotherapist over a number of decades, words put down then, now becoming a pigment applied. Now in front of the easel, stepping back, waiting, considering, and responding become important contributors in the development of the piece.
Scraping back in oils or layering on more translucent pigments in watercolour gradually build forms that begin to 'speak' of the subject. What the medium will do, how the substrate responds are 'group members' in this practice. In 2021 Ruth added collage as a way of expressing her experience, layering translucent and opaque hand-painted and patterned acid-free tissues onto paper or board in much the same way that she builds work in other media.
Staying with uncertainty remains key in all her work. It can be daunting to stay with the unpredictable and often frustrating process that eventually will reveal the form a piece will take. W H Vanstone in 'Love's Endeavour, Love's Expense" (p47), describes the creative process as 'precariously poised between success and failure.'
Ruth invites the onlooker to relate to what they see, through what they feel and through imagination. Her watercolour work has been received with enthusiasm as innovative and pushing boundaries. There is depth and power in both the oils and watercolours and much to be discovered over time. The body of watercolours developed over ten years has achieved success in national contemporary watercolour competitions, being exhibited at both The Mall Galleries and Bankside Gallery, London. Her work is collected internationally in Australia, the USA, Germany and The Netherlands.
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