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Meet Tracy Sweeney: The Artist Whose Work You Need Hanging In Your Home

Her bright materials!

Her paintings have earned her major awards, including the prestigious Pollock Krasner Award in New York...

A visual artist based in County Mayo, Tracy Sweeney’s original paintings hang in galleries around the world. Raw and highly textured, her work concerns itself with surfaces and layers, colours and contrasts. Favouring carpenter’s tools over traditional brushes, her paintings are layered endeavours, a marriage of construction and destruction. “I almost plaster on the paint, scratching back into it again using tools: it’s a really physical way of painting, more like building a wall and tearing it back down again.” Photographs are usually the starting point for each painting, drawing on the perfectly imperfect – rusting boats, peeling paint, crumbling ruins, industrial decay. Signs of ageing inspire her technique, while recent lockdown work has seen more representative themes appearing in her repertoire.

Growing up in Castlebar, Sweeney was surrounded by creativity and inspiration. “My grandmother taught me how to draw and my uncle was a photo-realist painter. My family ran an agriculture supplies business so I grew up playing hide-and-seek in a yard full of rusting machinery.”

Studying a BA in Fine Art in GMIT, she specialised in printmaking before moving to Kilkenny, where a mentor suggested she take a different path. “Printmaker John Noel Smith suggested I transfer my printing skills into paint, using printers’ tools and techniques as opposed to brushes.” Her first paintings were snapped up in 2007 and she has never looked back.

Her paintings have earned her major awards, including the prestigious Pollock Krasner Award in New York, which had a significant impact on her profile. Sweeney has recently completed works for the Museum of the Great Hunger in Connecticut and her works are held in major galleries and museums throughout Ireland, Europe and the US.

Sweeney always has a body of work to view at her studio and also on her website. “I love to undertake commissions and am very much open to clients’ ideas. Some come with an idea of what they want – maybe with a particular budget or a colour palette, and sometimes both.” She will then work on a rough idea before beginning the painting, favouring wood over canvas, unless the dimensions are especially large. “I am always happy to let people hang the piece in their home for a few days to ensure it works in the space it has been commissioned for. They can then make a decision on whether they want to purchase it or not.” None of her clients has ever turned down their finished commission but this agreement brings peace of mind.

Tracy Sweeney sells a limited selection of available/ commissioned paintings directly from her studio in Mayo and takes on commissions on a limited basis.

Visit her website, or call 087 127 5180 for more information. Follow Tracy on Instagram, here.