Inspired by the single-candle chiaroscuro paintings that were so prevalent in the Dutch Republic during the mid 17th century, these drawings depict varying subjects lit only by their chosen device. Replacing the traditional candle with ubiquitous technological companions maintains the intense shadows, but the once warm and pensive light source has transitioned to a cooler and more clinical ambience. Painstakingly reproducing these subjects in excruciating detail is a time consuming undertaking that stands in direct contrast to the quick pace associated with the depicted technology.
Conventional chiaroscuro oil paintings are a widely recognizable depiction of what many consider high art. By foregoing the classic medium and drawing these pieces in coloured pencil, Heaney is playing with expectation and challenging the concept of what is or isn’t high art. While traditional drawings would be exhibited framed behind glass, drawing these pieces on wood panels allows them to be hung as they are, unfettered and open to the air, further mimicking their painted counterparts.