A.M.D.G.: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (Latin), meaning "For the greater glory of God."
Across centuries and cultures flowers have played a rich and varied role as subject and signifier. Mary Mulholland’s paintings of magnolia’s, lilies and agapanthus awaken our senses, evoking our emotive response. These celebratory paintings form a dialogue between still life and spirituality, between purity and sensuality.
Magnifying the scale and hue of her subject matter has enabled Mulholland to heighten the viewer’s experience. “So rich is the colour in Mary Mulholland’s exhibition of flower paintings… that on entering the gallery you inhale in anticipation of the fragrance.” (1)
To describe Mulholland’s work as mere flower paintings is misguided. These are not the botanical and watercolour studies commonly associated with floral art. They are complex compositions in which emphasis is placed on colour, shade, texture and form, where the rich hue of petals are revealed and hidden beneath layered folds of drapery.
Mulholland’s paintings convey a spiritual narrative. She celebrates the vitality of life, utilising the floral motif to consider the fleeting nature of mortality. Flowers were historically thrown at the feet of Christ by his faithful as a sign of love and veneration. The drapery in her paintings alludes to the garments worn by Christ’s followers. Here, Mulholland observes the subtle relationships between flower and garment. Upright agapanthus in bright blue and purple push their way to the surface of the canvas (His Feet II), pale pink lilies are revealed from behind a curtain of fabric (At His Feet IV & VI), while a gossamer film all but buries a magnolia bud deep within it’s creases (His Heart).
Mulholland has made the subject her own, producing a body of work that possesses a restrained elegance alluding to the profound.
1. Richard Dingwall, “From pre-Raphaelites to post feminists,” Otago Daily Times, 2005.