The Sea is a force of nature that has always had a mesmerising hold on human beings. It used to be an important means to explore and discover, to trade and to transit. It knows no boundaries but its own, and even then, a tsunami is always possible. Long ago they thought if you sailed to the horizon you would fall off the edge of earth. In some ways this is the vast ocean and the edge that Sheil navigates in his exciting body of work called Sea-Change.
These are not pretty seascapes painted objectively at a distance and designed to soothe the viewer. No, they are unsettling, instead challenging you to enter into their secret realm. These are paintings made through immersion by the artist of his entire being, almost abandoning to the sea in order to know it.
The work rises up out of that turmoil of our own transience, the ebb and flow and tidal nature of life.The Sea, at once turbulent, unpredictable, volatile, calm, and serene symbolises our powerlessness. It is as paradoxical as our own nature. People like to look at the sea, as if its expansiveness might yield some answers to the inevitable - our quest to understand the cycle of life and death and our own place in that.
Leonard Sheil's Sea Change is a poignant and accomplished reminder of such important things.
Ciara Ferguson Irish Writer/Journalist