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Michael Donnelly

China Clay Museum, St Austell  June 2006

Michael Donnelly showed around 20 of his meticulously crafted oil-paintings in the relatively new exhibition space at the Wheal Martin museum, just west of St Austell. The large rotunda that forms this architecturally unusual gallery presents certain challenges to an exhibiting artist, but it also offers even, strong natural light, which was well suited to picking out the detail in Donnelly's pictures. The still-life genre has dominated his output in recent years, and the show consisted entirely of studies of objects found when walking in the local countryside. Removed from their original context and transported to the studio, Donnelly subjects these humble things to intense scrutiny, like an archeologist or forensic scientist, and represents them in a different light. In the process they are transformed in subtle and evocative ways.