“ artist Rikki van den Berg and local Portstewart poet Cherry Smyth”
Cherry Smyth, a local Portstewart poet, novelist, critic and curator, born in N. Ireland, based in London. Rikki van den Berg is an expressionist painter, born in Holland, but spend most her life in Ireland and in now based in Co Cavan.
Cherry and Rikki met at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig in 2016, a residential workplace and residency programme in Ireland for artists of all disciplines. A mutual appreciation for each others art form developed and so a collaboration formed. Cherry has written a short poem about Rikki’s work and Rikki in return has created a few works in response to her poetry.
Opening of the exhibition of abstract landscapes is on Saterday May 20th at Gallery 1608, 83 Main Street, Bushmills, Co Antrim, at 2-4pm with a poetry reading by Cherry at 3pm.
About Rikki van den Berg
Rikki van den Berg was born in Holland, spent her formative years in Ireland. Moving back to Holland, and bringig an unusual cultural background, left her vulnerable and estranged from her native country. It's against this background that painting became her chosen form of expression, finding encouragement and inspiration in her aunt's work, Maria van Everdingen, a renowned sculptress. She also found seclusion in theatre, discovering a passion for the stage and directing.
In 1997, Rikki returned to Ireland, establishing herself as a figurative and abstract painter, embarking on a personal journey in search of identity and place, resulting in abstract landscapes and figurative work, reflecting a deep sense of vulnerability and an abstracted view of belonging. Her most recent works are in oil and incorporate different techniques of layering textures, glazes and/or waxes.
Her work has received both national and international acclaim, with works in public and private collections in America, Canada, Ireland, London, Belgium, France and most recent China, after participating in the 'Irish Wave 3" art manifestation in Beijing in 2013.
Her imagery uses aspects of nature, life and mythology. Where the subject doesn’t derive from her own personal experiences, Rikki will search for an object, shape, image or story which can hold or correspond with her own feelings. ‘I look, I find and I relate to an image and then I start working on it; creating a structure to hold my own feelings’. Painting is my real truth; sometimes it’s like my paintings are my diary; they tell me what I’m trying to say’.
She frequently combines the worksurface with soft elements of textiles and papers, building up layers of material and paint,”It’s almost as if I am trying to mould the feeling onto the canvas as if I can touch it and hold on to it”.
Her recent work shows more use of different materials mixed with paint to create texture and contrast. These works are part of the new series called ‘Bog-windows’ in which she tries to capture the essence of the Irish bog in relation to her childhood memories.
About Cherry Smyth
Cherry Smyth is an Irish poet and writer, born in Ballymoney, County Antrim and raised in Portstewart. She has written one novel, three collections of poetry, a poetry pamphlet as well as a book, essays and reviews on contemporary visual arts. She has also published short fiction.
Her debut poetry collection When the Lights Go Up was published by Lagan Press, 2001. Her anthology of women prisoners' writing A Strong Voice in a Small Space, Cherry Picking Press, 2002, won the Raymond Williams Community Publishing Award in 2003.
Her debut novel Hold Still, 2013, is available from Holland Park Press. Test, Orange, 2012, her latest poetry collection is available from Pindrop Press. Her previous collection One Wanted Thing, 2006, is available from Lagan Press. A poetry pamphlet, The Future of Something Delicate was published by Smith/Doorstop, 2005.
Her poems have been published in Breaking the Skin, an anthology of Irish poets, Black Mountain Press, 2002, the Apples and Snakes Anthology, Velocity, 2003, Magnetic North, The Verbal Arts Centre, 2006.
New poems have been published in various magazines including The North, The Shop, Staple, Magma and Poetry Ireland Review. She was a prize-winner in the Tonbridge Poetry Competition, 2010 and the London Writers' Competition, 2007.
Her short fiction has been published in many journals and anthologies including Blithe House Quarterly, Summer, 2006, Scealta: Short Stories by Irish Women, Telegram Books, 2006, Chroma, Queer Literary Journal, 2004, 2006, Tears in the Fence, Vol. 35, 2003, The Anchor Book of New Irish Writing, 2000, and Hers: brilliant new fiction, Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1999.
She also writes for visual art magazines: Modern Painters, Art Monthly, Art Review and Circa. She has written essays on Jane and Louise Wilson, Orla Barry, Salla Tykka and Dirk Braeckman, among others. She was a visiting critic at Braziers International Art Workshop, at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Castello, Spain and at the Jan Van Eyck Academie in Maastricht in 2005. She was a curatorial adviser for 'Axis' online showcase, Open Frequency in 2006. An essay on photographer Thomas Flechtner was published in a book on his work, Bloom, Lars Muller Publications, 2007.
Cherry Smyth was guest editor of Magma poetry magazine, 2012, and poetry editor of Brand Literary Magazine, 2006-2011. She is co-curated Limber: Spatial Painting Practices at the Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury, 2013.
She has been teaching writing poetry in the Creative Writing Department of the University of Greenwich since 2004. She has been appointed a Royal Literary Fellow, 2014-2016.
Her influences include Li Po, Wislawa Szymborksa, Clarice Lispector, Hélène Cixous, Anne Carson and Mark Doty.