Waterford artist draws on farm life for inspiration

Waterford artist Anna Hearne may not have been able to combine her passions for farming and art at post-primary school but now she is happily blending both.

“When I was in school, art and agricultural science were on at the same time. I thought it would be very hard to make a living from art, so I went for ag science,” said Hearne – who has since taken over the running of the 100ac family beef and tillage farm, with her father, Tom, helping out.

After the Leaving Cert, the Kilmacthomas woman studied for her Green Cert at Kildalton, and after a few years working on the farm, did a portfolio art course. With her dad’s encouragement, she did a degree in fine art at Cork’s Crawford College of Art and Design, graduating in 2009.

Hearne’s tenacity was rewarded by the winning of several awards, including purchase prizes from Ely Lilly and the Office of Public Works. Her work is also part of the private collection at Bon Secours Hospital, Cork.

She has shown her oil paintings at several exhibitions, including a solo display at 2020 Art Gallery in Cork. Next up will be the major art fair, Art Source, at the RDS, Dublin, from November 10-12. The animals on her own farm provide plenty of subject matter.

“For my degree show, I did six large-scale paintings of bulls and horses in an abstract style. I also paint a lot of cows.”

For this latest show, she has taken a nostalgic look at farm life, with a focus on her grand-aunt’s derelict cottage. She has always been enthralled by the fading wallpaper which is over 100 years old, and a flashback to times past when milking loomed after 5:00pm tea.

Inter-generational life on the farm intrigues her, especially since the arrival of her nephew. “My sister has a one-year-old baby boy who loves looking at what’s going on with the animals. It’s great to see the next generation coming onto the farm. I also looked at old photographs of myself and my cousin on the farm, and of me on my dad’s shoulders.”

Cows, she acknowledged, are a favourite subject for many artists.

Cows are very laidback and seem to have a very soothing effect on people. I enjoy exploring their personalities and they seem to appeal to everyone, not just country people.

When not painting animals in her studio across from the farm, she can be found working the land or helping her cousin, Denis, on his dairy farm.