Rose Corcoran honed her skills studying drawing and illustration for 6 years culminating in a Masters degree from The Royal College of Art. On graduating in 2000, Rose opened her first show at The Sladmore Gallery in Mayfair She has continued to exhibit her work extensively in London, also having shows in Paris, New York and Santa Fe and her work is collected worldwide.
A period living in northern India in 1990 was formative in her artistic development, and with many visits since, she has established a close relationship with the sub-continent. She first saw tigers in the wild at Kahna (the setting of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’), where she was stunned and moved by the contrast with the tigers she had seen in captivity, having only studied them there previously.
She became fascinated by the paradoxical power of big cats – their fearsome strength, yet their affectionate and nurturing nature to their young. The endangered status of these awesome animals became a passionate concern as she met the renowned animal campaigner Valmik Thapar and through him, visited Ranthambor Reserve, one of the last strongholds of the wild tiger.
Rose believes in making art for a purpose and intends her work to highlight the magnificence of the nature she depicts, but also the terrifying fragility of its existence. As much as depicting individual animals, she aspires to evoke the essence and the vitality of the species in each image.
She strives to capture a moment, a feeling that she has either experienced in the wild or seen in captivity. Her drawings do not act as portraits, as such, but representations of a species, the essence or spirit of that particular animal. As she says herself.
‘Nothing prepares you for seeing an animal in the wild. In the presence of these creatures you are struck by their immense beauty and power, and filled with the sense of your own humble place in nature.’
Like her great predecessors in the depiction of animals, such as Rembrandt Bugatti, Antione-Louis Barye or George Stubbs, she seeks to convey movement and the potential for movement as well as the ‘fearful symmetry’ of her beasts. The large scale of many of her drawings adds a further powerful dimension to the work.
Corcoran is an artist both deeply traditional and clearly contemporary. Her work is dedicated to a secure future for her animal subjects in their natural habitat, which also assures her own future in the art world. She has built up a dedicated following for her incredible drawings, some are massively over scale, even larger than life-size studies of the beasts are not unusual, and all her exhibitions sell out in a matter of days.
In her worked-up presentation drawings, Corcoran exploits the medium to its fullest, using it to create deep, rich, velvety blacks. Like charcoal, pastel has no binding agent, so requires a fixative layer to render it permanent. Corcoran often uses charcoal and pastel in combination to give a monochrome drawing dramatic or delicate nuance.
In conjunction with pastel and charcoal, Corcoran employs water washes to soften, blend, and in some cases crisp up the dry pigment. To use washes, the paper has to be pre-stretched by soaking and taping to a board, giving a taut surface that will not buckle with further moisture. Corcoran frequently builds a complex ‘ground’ of washes that might include unorthodox staining agents such as tea.
‘These are accurate depictions which are also full of empathy; they project the spectator into the very essence of what they portray. If you want to really ‘know’ a tiger, look at one of these powerful drawings. Or don’t look, if you prefer not to be haunted by them.’
‘Rose Corcoran’s work is breathtaking… It captures the very essence of wild animals from their immense strength and power to their elegance and fluidity. I have watched Rose at work in India with wild Tigers for more than 15 years and seen her work in Africa. The results of her field visits have created stunning and spectacular portraiture of an array of wild animals’
Valmik Thapar, Natural Historian, filmmaker, author and leading expert on Tiger conservation.