Katherine Boucher Beug (b. 1947)
Originally from Princeton, New Jersey, Katherine Boucher Beug has been living and working in County Cork, Ireland since 1971. She received a BA in English and Fine Art from Northwestern University and her dedication to both writing and visual arts has been a significant influence on her work.
She went on to study at the Hochschule fur Bildende Kunst in Hamburg with Professor Kurt Kranz who taught Joseph Alber’s colour theory and its practical uses in water-colour and oils. This too was a formative experience with reference to landscape, portraiture, still life and abstraction. During her time in Germany she followed a rigorous, disciplined course in drawing from ‘life’. These two components, colour theory and her daily drawing, formed the solid base from which she went on to explore work in many different media and with many different themes. In Hamburg she also studied lithography, which would eventually lead to her artist’s book, Thought Before Song, consisting of eight lithographs and eight of her own texts.
In 1971 Katherine Boucher Beug moved to Cork, Ireland where, in a sense, she continued her studies, by teaching drawing, colour theory and lithography at the Crawford College of Art. In 1973 she and her husband bought an old house in Dunderrow surrounded by agricultural land and a forest. The endless weave of roads and hedgerow, the ever changing skies, shifting light and shadows combined to form her aesthetic. It is here that they brought up their family and here that she has her spacious studio. Her first solo show was in 1973 and she has been exhibiting in Ireland and abroad since then.
Influenced by Joseph Beuys and Anselm Kiefer and Louise Bourgeois, she began an obsessive sketch book practice; the daily recording of observations and memories, feelings and dreams using collage, photographs, found materials and words. Through these books, she remains in touch with the raw, uncensored flow of ideas and emotions which underpin more finished images. She would later go on to teach workshops in Sketch Books and Creative Practice at the Crawford and University College Cork. In 2006 she curated an exhibition at the Fenton Gallery in Cork, called The Raw Not the Cooked giving established contemporary artists the opportunity to show the ‘work behind the work’.
Always interested in theatre, in the 1990s, Katherine Boucher Beug began working occasionally with set design. Then in the 2000s she began adding stages to her canvases, constructing little tables, and working with fabric. These experiments would eventually lead to an important aspect of her current practice, the Assemblages. These 3D collages are a crystallisation of all aspects of the work and have been compared to well-structured poems.
She has had regular solo shows since the seventies, interspersed with group shows, projects and residencies. One particularly interesting project was her animated film, Begin, developed from her drawings for the Poetry Project (2013). And, in 2017, she initiated Take Five, a major exhibition of contemporary art with four other artists, Vivienne Roche, Stefan Syrowatka, Sarah O’flynn and Charles Tyrell, at The Mill in Kinsale, County Cork.