My art style is a contemporary/historical social commentary. I don’t think you’ll find that in a hashtag! I look at the trends over lifetimes and generations and how it relates to what’s going on now.
I study the Vedas. The Vedas present the history, present and future of the whole Universe. Sounds amazing doesn’t it? Well, it’s beyond amazing. I condense all those mind-blowing universal truths and add a little relevant contemporary flavour, and mix it all into a colourful piece of artwork. Sometimes it looks like I’m just painting colours and cartoons, but under the surface there is so much more going on.
I began with an interest in Irish history, Cú Chulainn, the annals and cycles, the druids, the pagans. I’ve always had an interest in spirituality, not religion per say, but the fundamentals of how and why we are here and what we are meant to do with our time here. I travelled around Ireland, stopping to meditate in the ancient and sacred sites, seeing what stories they held for me. I painted castles and dolmens, the Burren, the hills and the sea.
One year in the Costa Del Sol while I was making paintings in an old Carpenteria of rustic Spanish roof tiles, my old friend Rudi said to me, ‘Dawson, why don’t you paint a dog on a skateboard’. This one comment began to open me up to thinking about the fact that up till now I had only ever painted what I saw in front of me and I began to lament for a long lost imagination that seemed just beyond my grasp.
Over the next few years, I began to traverse into a journey of the unknown, trying and testing the buried instinctual methods of accessing the subconscious and superconscious. I was doing some shamanic training and that’s where the name ‘Nayhree’ came from. A Native American man at a fire’s edge said to me, your name is Nayhree. I began to use it as my name and work the freer character it brought into my art. Suddenly, after years of college pressure to create polished, curated pieces with a fully documented process I was suddenly free to make mistakes, to cast off the time-consuming preparatory sketches and let my mind work at the faster rate of processing and producing that it was able for. I’ve a habit of translating new words into Irish (Gaeilge) in my head.
Go n-éirí an bothar leat….
May the road rise to meet you…
Éirí means to rise.
I can live with that!
It symbolised to me the journey I am on. Searching, learning, building on experience, rise, rising, like a phoenix, from the filthy Irish history, the secrets behind what is written in the history books, rise, like “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” as Tupac’s poetry saved me from earlier versions of myself. Rise, the tiny girl in the driveway playing with stones hearing God tell her that one day she would have something very great to do in the world. She never thought it would be art or fashion but she took what she got and made the best of it.
My art is everything. It was my lifeline when I couldn’t find the words or confidence to explain my dreams, visions or aspirations to anyone. It was my processing tool for the things I didn’t understand. It’s a visual collection of the days and months of my life. Sometimes it shows me what I can’t see myself. Sometimes it shows me myself.
I use anything from acrylic to spray paint, mixed media collage to fabric when creating paintings. Every individual one has a deep story to tell, and I watch people connect to them in ways that I wouldn’t imagine or expect.
My paintings build relationships with people. People still send me photos of my art that they hung on their walls 20 years ago.
My art is well-being. It is essence. It is connection.
I hope it will bring you years of happiness and understanding like each piece has brought to me.