I am an Irish born, London based, visual artist. This exhibition – Embracing Women – contains 30 prints created over a period of 20 years. Within this work I explore and develop images of women, sourced mainly from life drawing studies, which describes my feminist viewpoint.

My most recent printmaking work features in 2 touring multiple gallery shows in the South and East of England.

It is my aim as an artist is to create meaningful work. “Embracing Woman” examines the female experience, where eroticism, desire and intimacy flourishes without self and societal censorship.

Drawing is the first and most basic fundamental skill an artist learns and for me, life drawing, continues to be a life-long endeavor. My life drawing practice began at East Ham College in the East End of London on a Foundation Course in Art. I had just come to London from a Convent School in rural Ireland. Having barely seen myself naked, it was a shock to see three naked women in the drawing studio at one time – but I got over it!

Interest in printmaking was formed at an early age, having been given a John Bull Printing Outfit one Christmas. I learned how to typeset and bounced many small rubber letters across the floor as they flicked out of tiny tweezers. My fingers have remained inky since childhood.

I continue to learn the printmaking craft by practice, experimentation and working alongside master printmakers. Fear of failure in my work holds no value for me, and I forge ahead unfettered by constraining conventions – in terms of craft and content.

It is a life affirming act to sit, study and draw the naked body. Much is revealed within its landscape. Drawing the female nude opened up a space where I could explore the domain of desire. Migrating and merging drawings within printmaking processes – relief, drypoint, planography, digital and monoprint – offered a method to describe exciting discoveries resulting in a series of intimate, frank, erotic, joyous, bold and irreverent scenarios.

As a feminist, I am aware of the restrictive and commodified way body within our culture – be it – in art, pornography or advertising. In the art world you only have to look at Vollard Suite of prints by Picasso to see misogyny and brutal treatment of women, with his bull enacting rape fantasies.

With this in mind, I felt compelled to make the series of artworks – “Embracing Women”. They reject the stereotype of the eroticisation of women’s subordination, and aims to construct a broader view of a woman’s experience of sexuality.

In order to do this, I’ve used different approaches and fine art printmaking processes within the body of work including:

A series of prints based of life drawing studies; woodcuts, lino cuts, monoprints, drypoint etchings – showing same sex, couples and single figures in diverse sensual poses, revealing intimate moments shared. Image titles, sourced in part from fragments of archaic poetry are integral to the artworks.

Lino cut on found material – images of women featured in print advertising material are re-presented overprinted with naked male / female figures creating a series of visual, intellectual impactful images.

Re-Mastered Series – Digital artworks from linocut prints on found material (famous dead white male painters famous paintings of women), overprinted with drawn naked males. Using arresting, erotic imagery, these bold irreverent artworks, are purposely designed to perplex, offend, subverting iconic works of art.

In addition to working as an independent artist, Denise Wyllie and I form the artist partnership Wyllie O Hagan. Our work has appeared both in gallery exhibition and screened at prestigious film festivals internationally.

Clare O Hagan
London, 2019

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