Philip Brennan is a native of County Clare. He has been successfully exhibiting his work since the late ‘seventies. Initially, he worked in oil, but watercolours quickly became his favourite medium. In the early exhibitions he concentrated on wildlife subjects, particularly on birds. These shows were sell-out successes. Through the eighties, a love-affair with the land and sea in his native county was reflected in the work, but the flowers and birds were still strongly present, often in vibrant, atmospheric scenes that arose from the many hours spent in the field as an ornithologist. There has always been a huge diversity in the topics chosen. Detailed ink or acrylic illustrations of bird books and ornithological display paintings respectively were in sharp contrast to the moody watercolours.
The pictures that went into the 2002 ‘Clare’ book marked a change. This was the first book of its kind for County Clare and the artistic journey that led to the publication revealed many hidden facets of the area. The subject range is huge and even in the landscapes there are few of the ‘typical’ views that might be expected. The second book, ‘Wanderings’, picks up from where the ‘Clare’ book left off. Here Philip is pulled back towards the intimate viewing of day-to-day nature and how we fit into it, or don’t, but he has also allowed himself to be drawn to far-off places and new horizons as well as allowing more people to populate his pictures.
Philip Brennan generally confines his exhibitions to his native Clare, but has also exhibited around Ireland, with shows in Galway, Tipperary, at the Muse gallery in Limerick and the Frank Lewis gallery in Killarney, County Kerry as well as appearing as invited artist at the Milwuake Irishfest, Wisconsin, in August 2007 and as artist-in-residence on Bardsey Island, Wales, in 2001.
Philip has had over twenty exhibitions in his native Clare and has also exhibited around Ireland, in the USA and in Florence in Italy. One of his paintings was presented on behalf of the people of County Clare to the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, in 2012
Philip Brennan’s art reflects a deep relationship with the land, the passing year and the creatures, flora and people that inhabit it. Coming from the background of the last of the small farms of his native County Clare, he has followed his own lights to explore and gain inspiration from that homeland. His best paintings show a keen sense of observation and affection for a multiplicity of subjects and in his atmospheric watercolours he has found the perfect vehicle for expressing his obsessions. As one reviewer of his ‘Clare’ book wrote, ‘…through the black and white of the trees, Brennan paints the colour supernatural’.
‘His writing lyrically mirrors his art work’. His singing similarly reflects a wide range of subjects and themes. As well as his own compositions and arrangements, which come from his own life experience, he sings songs from such diverse sources as his native County Clare to the English, American, Australian and Scottish traditions.
One of the founding members and first chairman of the Ennis Singers’ Club, he has won All-Ireland and Munster medals for newly-composed songs and in Munster for men’s senior traditional singing. County Clare is a great area for music and singing sessions, a pleasant change from the studio
Philip lives with his wife Noirín in Stonehall, Newmarket-on-Fergus, County Clare.