Durban-born artist Lynda Cookson was recently invited to be one of 100 artists commissioned to design and paint a large two-and-a-half-foot-high egg to be auctioned in aid of Ireland's Jack and Jill Children's Foundation in Dublin. The project is a sister to the Big Egg Hunt, which was started with the support of Faberge in London in 2012 and continues this year.
Cookson came from a family of artists and began her career as a professional artist in 1994 whilst living in Cape Town. In 2001 she moved with her husband to Ireland and settled in Connemara where she teaches creative painting in her gallery and studio, The Painter's Palette, in Oughterard, Co Galway. In the last decade her paintings, strongly influenced by the colours and senses of Africa, have made their mark in Europe.
She described her experience of painting the egg: "On arrival, the purity and latent potential of egg was almost overwhelming to me. Like the effect of a new puppy, I fell in love at first sight and behaved like a tree hugger, only I became an egg hugger. It became obvious that our final parting would be bitter sweet!
"I already knew the techniques I was going to use on egg, but one of the secrets of abstract work is to allow spontaneity to work its magic - and that's what happened. Each day a new glaze, a new layer of paint, a new excitement waiting to see how it all developed - and quite a few sleepless nights while my mind redesigned the patterns and colours endlessly.
"Abstract is my passion and, for me, it also represents the birth of new life, individuality and uniqueness - all of which describe the essence of an egg.
Allowing them to travel where they wanted
"I chose a technique of dripping the first layers of paint onto the surface, allowing them to travel where they wanted, forming rich layers where each part maintains its individuality in its own space whilst also contributing to the richness of other layers where they overlap. Just as our experiences in life overlap and contribute to our development and increasing wisdom. The dripped layers form a web of design, sometimes losing their strand and their strength within the mix of medium, and at other times exerting their independent influence with character and purpose.
"How often have we heard the expression 'the rich texture of life'? The textured flowers of my design, highlighted in gold, are designed to represent that element. They are the high points of beauty and richness to which we all aspire in our lives. This Egg, 'Aspirations', represents the rich web of life."
Constant study of the work of acclaimed international artists, plus experimentation with different influences, mediums, tools and techniques has kept Cookson's work fresh and growing in popularity.