Margo Banks

Margo was born in 1951. She left Ireland to live in Spain when she was 17, married a Spanish gypsy and had three sons with him. Margo made her living painting at this time. Sadly after 14 years, for various reasons, she came back to Ireland with her three souvenirs and had to turn around and make a living. She worked as an interpreter amongst other things, and enrolled in the North Strand Technical School for night classes in Pottery.

On discovering the clay, she moved on to sculpture and worked in this medium for the next 14 years. She has 2 public commissions in sculpture. She went on to teaching modelling the figure in clay for the VEC for 2 years.  One summer about 10 years ago, when the North Strand was closed for holidays, she decided to paint a little again, and once started, has never stopped. Although she loves sculpture, she missed the colour. With her boys now grown up she has now given up full time work (she was Administrator in the United Arts Club in Dublin) and is now making her living as a painter.

Margo’s strong connection to her mother and family-place plays heavily on her work. In big and boisterous drawings, Margo tells the many stories of her mother; her childhood, her land and its rich folklore tales. Her drawings are the remembrance and the expression of both these stories and of the changes seen in the landscape of Teeromoyle in South West Kerry – her mother’s place. Banks returns here often, to sketch and walk the field. It is a sort of time-machine for her: sometimes joyous, sometimes oppressive; veined with tragedy and shadows from harsher times. Taking her sketches back to the studio, its moods infect her. She has said:

“Painting the field sometimes makes me feel snug, warm and sheltered; and other times exposed, vulnerable and turbulent.”

Accenting her ancestor’s land, its myths and traditions, Margo captures totemic animals particular to her mothers hillside. There is nothing particularly cute or sentimental about Banks’ ‘beasts of the field’. They shimmer and abound with edgy character; with an elemental, almost mythic aspect. Her signature hares, based on the Irish subspecies, Lepus timidus hibernicus, are pookas of a kind. Glowering, startled or pensive, they dance, skip, careen on their springloaded hind limbs, or simply squat, sphinx-like. Embedded in poetry and folklore, she says of these animals’ wild and mysterious presence:

“They just have this otherness about them. They share the world with us, but they don’t seem really aware of us”.  

‘Pulled by the gravitational force of memory, towards the shadow land of the past, Margo mines the rich folklore of her mother’s community and her intimate affinity with nature.’ Des Kenny, Draíocht.

“My mothers past is my past’…