Elaine Quinlan | This globetrotter has put her roots down in Galway..read WHY



“I am a Galway girl!”

If the saying, ‘travel is more valuable than money’ is true, then this maker has to be one of the wealthiest women on earth! 

Growing up with an army officer for a father, Elaine Quinlan has pretty much seen it all. Spending her youth jet setting across the Middle East, teaching in Barcelona, eloping in Honolulu, living in Montreal and finally settling in Galway – gasp for breath – you can expect to find diversity and cultural awareness laced throughout her creative work. 

Using art as an escape in a packed house full of eight children, it wasn’t until her escapades in Hawaii that the Irish creative explored her talents, “I started working for myself in fibre arts, taking courses in Hawaiian quilting, screen printing and drawing – I was finally doing what I loved!” 


Having a taste of the pie wasn’t nearly enough for this ambitious artist and so from the minute she landed in Montreal in 1993, it was full steam ahead with commissions alongside her very own quilt art exhibition. On returning to Ireland a few years later, the inevitable happened, life got in the way and quilting had to be put on the back burner to make room for three new arrivals. 

Not one to be held down for too long, the itch became to much for Elaine to bear and in 2005 she enrolled in Fine Art classes and was accepted onto the GMIT part-time programme. However nothing in life worth having comes easy, right? Remembering the time, the artist tells us, “I had a very solitary life, working alone in a studio in Galway’s countryside meanwhile rearing one son and two daughters. My husband has a demanding job so I’ve had to find time to paint here and there over the years.” – Having submitted and sold work at open submission and group exhibitions, we’d say she’s done a smashing job at keeping all the plates spinning! 

Having travelled the world and being a current resident of one of Ireland’s most vibrant cities, it’d be hard to imagine this maker struggles for inspiration for her paintings.

“I live in an area of Galway that suffers frequent flooding so the landscape changes constantly. I like to track the changes, the different colours and textures that appear during the seasons. I like to paint “impressions” of the landscape and how it feels to live here. I’m also drawn to lyrics and poetry. Sometimes a phrase resonates with me and with a painting I’m making, so I note it down. My current collection of paintings is based on the floods during the winter in East Galway.”

While globetrotting has given the maker a taste for diversity, it has also instilled an ever present curiosity of identity and place as a source of artistic inspiration. This need to explore human roots is the driving force behind her continued investigation of surroundings. Whether it is a rural, an urban or a domestic environment, her process is to bring that exploration to a point where one motif is highlighted and repeated throughout the work. Her work is situated somewhere between abstraction and representation.

Finally we asked Elaine to whip out the old crystal ball and let us in on her future plans both personally and for her art work:

“I just want to keep painting and making my art become stronger and stronger. I want to explore the possibilities of what I can achieve on bigger canvasses.  Obviously my wildest dreams would include having world-wide renown for my stunning, original art. But I’d settle for an interim period of selling work regularly enough so that I can have an income and continue exploring and experimenting with what is possible with paint.” 

Like what you hear and intrigued to take a nosey at Elaine’s captivating work? We thought so! Head over to her shop on the marketplace now and treat yourself to an original masterpiece your wall will thank you for. 

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