Annie Hogg is a visual artist based in Co. Tipperary, Ireland. After graduating with a Diploma in Fine Art from the Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork in 2001 and a BA in sculpture from Aki College of Art in The Netherlands in 2002, Annie worked and lived in environmental protest camps and learned organic horticulture.
In recent years, she has returned to her creative practice. Annie forages in the landscape for materials to create her art. She uses plants, soils, stones, shells and bones to extract pigment and ink for her marking making work and to create sculptural work. She has won several awards, residencies and art grants, most recently was the winner of the K-Fest Arts Festival in Killorglin Co. Kerry.
After Art College
After graduating from Art College in the Netherlands in 2002, Annie kept traveling. She worked and lived on organic farms in New Zealand and travelled to Tasmania, where she worked on a campaign to save the ancient Gondwana rainforest.
Annie always had a keen interest and concern about the environment: “when I was ten… I wanted to live in a tree and fight the good fight.” Following this she did an organic horticulture course, worked part-time and tried to return to her creative process.
“I was fairly lost for a few years worked part time in a health shop .. and tried to have a creative practice.” Annie found she couldn’t be creative part-time. “I can only do it if I’m doing it full time I think it’s not just a creative practice”
The Importance of drawing
“I always had a drawing habit, always drew. And there would have been times ..where I’d wake up in the middle of the night and I’d have to get up and start drawing out what I had been dreaming of ..and if I didn’t at least get it out on paper, it would physically burn heartburn. It was always there. You know that thing that happens when when you’re a creative person, if you’re not pursuing it, it pursues you. I would very much have experienced that, and it just got to a stage whereby I was so severely unhappy and physically feeling it in my body… it just had to be dealt with.”
Deciding to become a full-time artist
Finally, she made a decision to become a full-time artist. “Five years ago.. I was working for somebody else ..and not happy .. not in any way thinking, this is a good way to be living a life at all.” Annie decided to ” just quit it all, stop everything and pursue what you want to pursue. Now is the time.”
“I would have left art college with the idea that there’s too much important things to be doing in the world rather than spending my time and energy on a creative practice. That was how I felt in my early twenties. I’m now in my early forties and I’ve done what I feel I needed to do and wanted to do…I can justify to myself spending time completely absorbed within the creative process.”
Initially Annie tried to work as a book illustrator in order to fund her art practice. “I thought I was being so clever. I thought… I have to make money from this… let’s be sensible about it now, [I’m] a competent drawer. So I thought I’ll illustrate children’s books.” Her dark drawings didn’t suit the world of illustration and the agency suggested she return to fine art.
Her work in illustration led her to explore colour recipes. “I was looking for a blue colour. I could see the colour in my mind .. I went online looking for it and I saw [online a] lady over in Berlin who was making her own watercolours.”
“It all came back to me. My mom is a spinner and a dyer. I grew up in a house with all of these smells and all of plants being brewed up and wool and fleece.. being put into it.” Annie started to research how to make colours herself. The smell of making colour brought her back to her childhood: “all of these smells started coming up in .. it just brought me back to childhood. And it was like, oh, of course, that’s always been there. And that changed everything.”
The process of learning how to make ink and colour freed up Annie’s practice. “The work I had been doing for illustration was really precise, constricted, illustrative work. ..making the botanical inks, it physically freed up .. everything.”
Annie takes meticulous notes of her process of making colours and ink. She then progressed into learning “how to make a dry pigment powder from plants. And that led them to minerals, to rocks ”
Annie was brought up foraging and understood the rules of foraging. “When I was a kid, my mom taught me how to forage – if you see three or four of the same plant, you can take one, but only if you have to and just draw first and bring it home and then we’ll identify it in the book. So I was always taught at the last step, you pick. ”
The impact of industrial farming
However, Annie has noticed a change in the landscape due to industrial farming. “we have industrial farming in our locality. There’s a lot of sprays..we’ve got a huge decline in insect population locally here [with] a knock on effect for the bats and the birds.” This means that Annie and others have become more mindful about foraging. “the foraging rule of thirds has changed now to like one eight or one 10th – if you see ten plants, you can take one because of the strain the environmental stuff is under.” However, Annie frequently doesn’t even allow herself to forage beyond her own garden anymore: “I can’t even bring myself to do that anymore, really. I struggle to take anything.”
Recently, Annie turned more to charring than to making botanical inks. Charring is a process of applying extreme heat to an organic matter with the absence of oxygen. The process transforms the object to carbon. Objects continue to hold their form but become brittle to touch, due to the conversion. She finds the process of charring alchemical and an act of votive transformation: “It becomes a very important substance. The material is charged. The charged material is charged, whole transformation occurs and it is very alchemical..it becomes very holy.”
She describes the process of charring: “I have a fire pit and I’ve got lots of different sizes of tins with a good seal lid in each one. There is one small hole put into the side or top or the bottom. Doesn’t really matter where as long as it’s only one. The charring is the process of removing oxygen and applying intense heat. Without the oxygen being present, all of the water and gases held in the object are expelled through that one singular hole. It goes on to be formed into a carbon, a natural material of all of these different chemicals and biological makeups can have all of those things taken away so that you’re left with a carbonated thing object instead of its regular object. The deterioration, the natural disintegration is halted in steps because it’s undergone this chemical change.”
“I have a love of fire anyway. I make a fire pit for any old reason. It’s a really important thing to me. And I love meeting people around a fire pit. I love having the smell of the fire off me. I love passing somebody else and getting the smell of a fire pit off them because, you know, you’re a kindred spare and you’re a fire person too. Yeah, I love fire pits, just to be around fire and to hold it for the life that comes with it.”
If Annie is making a sculptural pieces, she chars it on its own. If she’s charring organic matter to make char, she chars them in groups, lets them cool down, grinds them into pigment, then adds a binder and water to paint with. “I always work with brushwork and I would play with the quantity of binder and water for different effects so sometimes I like things to be thickly laid on in layers and then other layers. I have some very wishy washy and mellower.”
Charring soil changes its colour. “When you apply heat to the yellow kind of raw ochre that you’d get around the coastal areas and often the comrades, when you apply heat to that, it goes orange to red, and I’ve seen it dawn to purple. I’ve never achieved those kind of temperatures. But not black. It’s not being charred. The colour is just being changed through heat in that way.”
Annie describes the incredible scent released from charring peat taken from a bog. “I charred them and when I opened up the tin can, oh gosh, this smell, this floral bouquet of scent came up. It was amazing and it was like getting a whiff of scent that had been there like thousands of years ago when these plants were growing on it and it was exposed and a flowery meadow before it got waterlogged.. it was incredible, it was just really astounding scent.
Annie views herself primarily as a 3 D artist, working with sculptural pieces and installations. Her mark-marking work is primarily for herself, to work out ideas . “They’re not set to go any place. They’re not being exhibited. They’re not for a body of work. They’re just for me. That’s just for play. That’s just to get things in my head, out of my head and communicate. I feel that I’m a better communicator through visual than I am through verbal.”
“The mark making is really just for me, it kind of allows me to breathe through such a horrible thought, and be able to get up in the morning.
I work in layers, needing to allow each to dry for a day. So far, there is char of snail shell, hawthorn, holly and lichen.”
For her installations, Annie commissions others to help her with her vision. For Lost, she worked with Adrienne Diamond, glass blower, who hand blew glass containers to exact dimensions to house Annie’s charred sculptures. Sinead Brennan of Glint Glass Studio drilled holes in the glass bulbs to exact dimensions and Mick Wilkins, sculptor who created bronze branches cast from branches Annie had gathered. Natalia Beylis sound artist, composed a sound piece for the installation
Inspiration behind Lost
Annie’s installation Lost, is a “consideration of what happens in a landscape after the land has gone through conversion to an industrial scale farming model. Specifically a system of long established native hedgerows.
“It’s a very sad story, and I wish it wasn’t true. The hedges, three hundred year old hedges that my great grandmother would have picked mushrooms from, that my mother taught me how to forage correctly, from that, my granny would have picked a few violets for her May alter.. I thought would always be there, because they always had been down through my female line , was ripped a-thunder, were taken apart. New landowners took over the land and decided that there’d be none of that little field. Carry on now. Get rid of all of us.”
Annie’s work is infused with solastalgia, the emotional or existential distress caused by environmental changes. The loss of the hedgerow caused her deep sorrow. “I would have considered it home… it was such a dense, genuinely vibrant place of life, and that’s all gone.” The inspiration for Lost “came from that, and it came from the guilt I had… I was still living in West Cork when it all happened. Not being here, not being aware that it was happening, not doing anything to stop it or even slow it down or even just being a torn in the side of the people doing it… when it came to my own backyard, I wasn’t here, and I didn’t do anything and I felt really bad about it and also felt a huge amount of loss for what I considered home…Another aspect, .. is.. a call to observe that that’s what was there and what is there now. And surely it can’t be okay to put down this road.”
“The idea of that back panel is that these are remnants of human activity found by fairy or other being held, being documented by their magic.”
Annie has always felt anxiety about the environment. “I had that anxiety since I was like seven or eight. Remember the ozone layer and the CFCs, those old fashioned egg boxes? I had that anxiety since..then. I remember not being able to sleep with worry and the fear of it. It’s something I’ve always carried, which is what led me to live in my twenties the way I did, and even my thirties with the organic and biodynamic gardening.”
When she was in Art College, she tried to explore environmental themes but her work was dismissed by the teachers. “When I was in art college making sculptures around dairy industry and animal testing.. being told .. to stop with that carry on… They just felt it wasn’t interesting or valuable as a theme.”
Annie regrets that she listened to those art teachers. “I wish I had had the maturity and the self belief to continue with it, because I would have stayed within art practice for the last twenty years. I wouldn’t have walked away from it. I genuinely thought, you’re not allowed do that. That’s not important enough…that’s not what art is.”
“It’s a specially built space away from the home. I came back to the home place because I couldn’t afford to do this any way else.. I have my own little studio down the back, and I come down here every day and just work away…working could be research, reading and tracking down papers .. as well as well as the physical making thing.”
Seasonality of foraging
‘it can be a seasonal thing .. for example, I need to go and collect more snail shells again..I know a spot where the birds come and break snail shells on the path in a wooden land.’
Annie spends a lot of time researching and trying to find where and how to access the information she needs. “I struggle with accessing the kind of information I desire. I don’t really know where to go to access a lot of it. It’s a lot of randomly emailing people that I don’t know.. in Trinity or Teagasc, saying who I am and can you please help me?”
Annie is a member of Flora Arbuthnott’s Plants and Colour group, which has been an invaluable resource.
Annie’s currently working on her next project investigating soil microbiology. She is “looking at it from a few different angles, from sound, perspective and visuals, and again attempting to create a space that a human body can be wrapped in, that’s both visual and audio.”
“The installation, no title as yet, is focusing on soil life. The inception was a kinetic piece utilising mycelia growth over a specific time. Last month, I was fortunate enough to be on residency at live Art Ireland, with the intention of researching the materials. As is the way, the path has now veered, and am investigating the chemical exchanges which occur in soil. ”
“The physicality’s of the piece are also going to be challenging as I hope to create a structure using root systems.”
Annie hopes to explore soil, specifically soil microbes from the perspective of sound. “I’ve become fascinated with the use of soundscape and installation. Each different microbe has these different chemical signatures. They do different things depending on their environment in the soil, depending on who else is around, how many of them are there.” Annie hopes to extract these chemical signatures with the help of a microbiologist and then with the “help of Natalia Beylis, who did the sound piece for last, constructing some kind of sound piece using those captured sounds.”
Annie founds her research primarily with art grants. She’s become more selective in what she applies for. “I’ve learned in the last few years of being within an art practice.. not to apply for everything all the time.”
She invests a lot of time doing grant applications. “I spent January to the start of May putting in at least.. two applications for proposals, for funding..a week. That’s a huge chunk of time.”
Annie isn’t daunted by rejection. She views the art grant applications as “a gamble… the no’s outweigh the yeses and [I] just keep on going…I’m pretty adamant in this. I’ve taken this on. This is what I am doing. This is what I’m going to keep on doing. And if they keep on saying no to me, I’m going to keep on going… I learned that lesson 20 years ago when I was told no.”
When she was in Art College, one lecturer told her “you need to leave here. You need to do your diploma someplace else.” Annie feels this was absolutely correct.
James Horan, sculptor who is a friend of Annie recently told her advice he was given in Art College”you have to work to make work…you have to put in the work to get out the work.”
Artists who inspire Annie include:
In Blood, Bone, Rust and Stone, Annie’s solo exhibition the titles include “hag teaches her to inhale and exhale to ultimate stillness”.
Annie explains the process she used to create the titles. She used a Leaving Certificate textbook on Technical Graphics written by her father as the source for her titles. “Each of the titles for the pieces then corresponded to their titles in the technical drawing book. ..I just laid out each one .. in a kind of a list of pattern. [For example] wherever circle was used in the title for the technical graphics book, I used the word hag.”
Caroline Ross – Found and Ground A practical guide to making your own foraged paints
Heidi Gustafson – Book of Earth A guide to Ochre pigment and raw colour
Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Annie teaches workshops both online and in-person.
Contact Annie or see her work on:
Credits and links
Contributors to LOST include:
Natalia Beylis sound artist
Adrienne Diamond glass blower
Sinead Brennan of Glint Glass Studio
Mick Wilkins on bronze
Other mentions in the podcast include:
Flora Arbuthnott of Plants & Colour
James Horan was the friend to whom our lecturer told
“You have to put in the work to make the work”
LOST exhibited at:
South Tipp Arts Centre (as a result of Residency Award ‘22/’23)
Blood bone rust & stone exhibited at
Lily Gallery Beara
And Chair Arts
John Moriarty is the philosopher from Kerry. In his book Dreamtime he speaks of a ‘grand state of mind’ in reference to a human state of mind where the immensity of creation and religions and cause and effect of actions and beliefs are able to take root and be considered, understood even.
Annie attended a three-week research residency in 2023 with https://www.live-art.ie/