Drawing on the Body

A Collaboration between Mother and Daughter
Works Presented by Tallaght Community Arts
2010 Rua Red Gallery 2 Dublin

The artist Bernie Masterson is synonymous with landscape and exploration of the natural environment. Her latest collection of paintings still relates to mapping, but the subject in question addresses physical geography of a very different nature. The theme of the new work emerged serendipitously from her role as a carer for her mother, Jeannie Masterson. 

This collection of work is characterised by the standardization of scale, as each image is painted on a wooden panel measuring 35.5 cm square. The images do not occupy the entire space of the square panel but are confined to neat rectangular segments reminiscent of a laboratory slide.  Each painting addresses a different area of the human body and, if the viewer was not privy to the title of the subject, one would be inclined to regard the collection simply as enlarged organic studies of objects in the natural environment.

During the four years that the painter was engaged in the creation of this body of work, she successfully developed a two step approach. The initial collection of oil drawings deals primarily with the surface of the skin and its evolution over the years. The second part of the series melded the structural elements of her mothers medical record with the memories evoked by photographic media. The combined effect of the collection forms a narrative that gives visual expression to Jeannie Masterson’s inner life, becoming effectively a biography in paint.

Dr Medbh O'Regan

Arena Interview ‘Drawing on the Body’ (22-04-2010)

Drawing on the Body Video | 2010 | 3’ 33”

University of Ulster Conference on Medicine | 2011 | 1' 25" |

Talk given on ‘Drawing on the Body’ by Dr Medbh O'Regan Lecturer in Visual Culture NCAD 


Screenings and Panel Discussions:

Centre for History of Medicine in Ireland Conference, University of Ulster, Belfast (26-05-2011)

Waterford Healing Arts Trust (18-03-2011)

RUA RED Gallery 2 (10-04-2010)

Drawing on the Body Screening and Panel Discussions: (10-04-10)

Selected Works

The Longest NightProject type

Last DanceProject type

FlightProject type

Strange FishProject type

Incarceration AltarsProject type

The Art of WritingProject type

WeatherProject type

InvocationProject type

Drawing on the BodyProject type