Though considered to be an Irish artist, John Kingerlee was born in Birmingham in 1936. For a lot of his young adulthood he lived in Cornwall, before moving to the Beara peninsula just off West Cork in 1982 where he lived in a remote farmhouse. This was not a move completely out of the blue; he was familiar with this part of Ireland as his mother had connections in Cork, and he also went to a Christian brothers school.It is this farmhouse where Kingerlee and his wife, Mo, still live today.
A common trope of successful artists in Irish circles is that they did not have formal training in their craft, and that they developed their talent naturally and organically. Kingerlee is no exception to this rule; he had many jobs, such as gardener and poet, before he decided to dive head-first into being a full-time artist. His work takes inspiration from other West of Ireland artists as he allows his surroundings to encourage his compositions and reflect onto the canvas. Kingerlee’s isolated farmhouse where he still lives today looks out across Kenmare Bay to the Ring of Kerry. The rough landscape of the weather-torn West is clearly represented in Kingerlee’s works; you can almost feel the coarseness of the rocks and the intense movement of the North Atlantic Ocean.
In this month’s auction, we have a work by John Kingerlee that conveys the feeling of isolation and loneliness that can often be associated with a life in the rural West of Ireland, but also comfort in that solace. In lot 521, we see a single figure to the right-hand side of the painting, seeming almost insignificant in comparison to the looming mountains in the back and the vast lake in the foreground. This work is consistent with Kingerlee’s catalogue of works and would be a great piece to have for a collector of Irish art.