Jo Killalea is a visual artist with a farming, natural science and development background, who lives in Swinford, Co Mayo. A concern with social, economic and environmental justice issues is the perspective she brings to her practice. Among the defining qualities of her work is its evocation of time and place. Drawing inspiration from the local landscape, heritage and social history of the west of Ireland, together with years of experience in East Africa, her paintings are overlaid with a global outlook and sensitivity to connections.

‘The motivation for my work comes from a desire to transform facts about important social, economic and environmental issues into work that is both aesthetically engaging, and may also evoke a deeper understanding or empathy in audiences. There is a continuity of influence and processes in my practice, where the connections between local and global concerns are referenced on issues such as inequality, migration, land use and climate change using a limited earth palette. The recurring motifs, shapes and marks that I use (mounds /cairns, dots, lines and strokes) reference aspects of the landscape, heritage and social history of the West of Ireland where I live. Titles are an important aspect of each painting, communicating information for the viewer to facilitate insight and understanding.’

Her most recent paintings on peatlands were exhibited in a solo exhibition ‘not yet saved’ at the Ballinglen Gallery in Ballycastle, North Mayo in August 2021.

Other series of work have focused on the following issues and are based on life experience:-Famine and Migration (Blighted Lives 2012-2017); Homelessness (The State We’re In 2016); Mental Health (Off the Walls 2015); Global Inequality (Picture Inequality 2013).

She has recently been awarded a Bursary from the Arts Council to develop new work on climate change and famine, which she hopes to exhibit in 2023.

Read more about about her practice in an interview published March/April 2021 in The Visual Artists’ News Sheet(p.18)

not yet saved, 2020, oil on canvas, 137×203

©Jo Killalea

Instagram: @jokillalea