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“I am attracted to ways that paint can both materialise and disintegrate images and influence our perception of things.”


Miles Lowry 



The Irish alphabet known as Ogham was scratched and carved into stone around the 4th century. According to the medieval scribes who came to Ireland and recorded it in several existing manuscripts, the letters played an important role in the Bardic oral tradition of honouring sacred trees and plants through storytelling.

On these medieval manuscripts, the Ogham was written left to right. On the original stones, the Ogham letters are read bottom to top. For my work, I write them as a tree grows -
from the bottom up. The alphabet is made of 25 letters constructed using a vertical baseline (the tree), with perpendicular marks (the branches) stemming from or crossing over this line horizontally or diagonally. Each letter has a tree or plant associated with it. The first letter being B, Birch or Beith in Irish, is the tree of beginnings.

The multi-word phrase-oghams or kennings I have used in my work are from the 14th century Book of Ballymote. This provided an important source of the original Irish phrases as they act as riddles from another time that are open to new inspiration. I was fortunate to view the original manuscript in person at the Royal Library in Dublin in June 2019.

I merge modern pigments, paper, wax and wood with handmade inks based on medieval recipes by boiling oak galls or acorns. Trees are sometimes both the substance and the subject of the works. At times the Ogham script is subsumed into the work becoming its very texture. The fusion of mark-making and language is at the centre of my approach as I explore the Ogham trees, their symbolism, and how they can portray abstract expressions, reflect hidden communications and inspire spiritual investigations.


Miles Lowry - Victoria 2019

one wave oracle.jpg


One Wave


Inside Passage

In the summer of 1977 I was hired to work on a short film celebrating the explorer James Cook. My job was as a make-up artist for the actor playing him. I was excited to travel the Inside Passage on the Queen of Prince Rupert which made the journey in 20 hours departing from Prince Rupert and Kelsey Bay on alternate days.


For ten days the ship travelled through a network of islands in the protected waters of British Columbia’s central and northern coastline. After several days of going back and forth I found myself recognizing some of the little islands but never knowing their names. I took no camera or sketchbook so I would sit and gaze into the passing scenery between takes. The effect was like a long dream of repeating scenes illuminated and made emotional by the unpredictable weather and light of the Pacific Northwest.


In the winter of 2017/ 2018, I found myself painting spontaneously on small wooden panels during a very wet and stormy  winter in Victoria. The paintings seemed to be coming out of the weather but the images kept reminding me of that very focused time that autumn after I graduated high school. Like many things that happen for the first time the experience had left a strong impression. Before I knew it, I began the series Inside Passage based on years of living here in the Pacific Northwest and a small voyage of discovery over 40 years ago that has never ended.


Miles Lowry - Victoria 2018



"My paintings on Mulberry paper emerge through complex brush marks and atmospheric, translucent layers of drawing, spraying and under-painting.


I am fascinated by evanescence - where at a certain hour light reaches into shadow and something is momentarily exposed or a string of birds against the sky create an image for a second only..."

Miles Lowry

“Luminescence fluctuates, ebbs and flows, in Lowry’s works, like a pulse. His painting would seem to suggest that somewhere at the substratum of all matter is simply light, pure light. Perhaps involved in an intimate dance with shape, it provides the pulse of the seen world with infinite regressions of fractal arabesques – signs and inscriptions only to be read by means of a complete surrender of formal expectations."  


Yvonne Owens, La Vie Des Arts, Montreal 2016  


Heroes & Orphans

"My Heroes and Orphans are glimpses of face-to-face encounters with friends and strangers transformed through the act of capturing their form. To create these portraits I first draw with pencils on translucent mulberry paper - chasing the resemblance that a photograph gives. Then through a process of spraying and brushing colors a familiar face emerges, an ecstatic moment, a brief attitude. I crush and distress the paper while continuing to paint and the resulting works reveal various personas materializing through intersections of drawing, painting and chance."

Miles Lowry



“Feathering is a term from aeronautics which means to turn off the engine of a plane while in flight. In music it is the very light and delicate use of a bow. In painting it refers to a subtle spreading of pigment. Here, I observe the trajectory of swallows feathering through space, flying and free falling against the sky.”


Miles Lowry



"'Breathing Spaces' is a solo exhibition of works created during my continued artistic residencies in Ireland. This current series reflects a fresh attention to landscape on the edge of abstraction.


The paintings manifest through complex brush marks and layers of translucent and opaque atmospheres. In some ways the brush-marks suggest the meditative detailing of mandalas. Layers of mineral pigments are controlled by the flow of water over the surface of the Mulberry paper. The colour is brushed, poured and thrown. The paper is creased and crushed and eventually mounted flat to birch wood panels. The final layer is a fine coating of bees wax sometimes infused with pigment or scraped away. Each layer combines with the previous to add definition, to create colour tension, and to gesturally define abstract space. It is the world in a state of becoming visible.


The resulting process feels as if the paintings were made by rain and wind and sun, a feeling that comes from the Irish countryside in the May-time called Bealtaine. My aim with 'Breathing Spaces' is to share a time away, an interval and opportunity to be simply present in the world with nature." 


- Miles Lowry​


This exhibition was created as part of Lowry's 2019 Residency at The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, County Monaghan, Ireland. A selection of the works in this collection were on display and interrupted by Covid-19 at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Massey Sales Gallery in Victoria, BC March 12 - April 12, 2020. ​

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