Bachelard praises the life of the house and all that is behind doors – hallways, patios, back gardens, wallpaper, carpets, windows, sofas, doors, curtains – because here, in the ordinary, we find traces of life and the living. Life here is: ‘something not to be held in contempt, for it implies all of existence and the province of art is to react to it and not to shun it’.3 Burke’s artworks reveal decisions made by participant-occupants in their choice of furnishings, -pattern, colour and texture. As art critic Aidan Dunne observes, Burke is fascinated by shadows, reflections, and by the glare of light on smooth surfaces: ‘distorted reflections take on a life of their own, twisting and reinventing the simplest things, turning them into abstractions’.4 A unique aspect of Burke’s practice is the combination of close, faithful observation of an existing place with the result of creating, or ‘abstracting’ a novel composition. What we might pass by, is held rigid and becomes central to Burke’s purpose. So what we view in the completed art work is a stilled version of our temporary or imaginary passage through a real site. This is not nostalgia. The banal and the mundane are privileged in equal measure. These are novel compositions. Burke is fastidious in her working methods. She employs digital photography - perhaps fifty shots each time - to capture the site from a variety of angles thereby providing a rich source of accurate material references for work back in the studio. These multiple photographs help capture light, detail, tone, texture and reflection and can create a collage effect in the final artwork. She keeps an extensive photographic ledger of work in progress, so as to be able to revisit previous work. Each artwork is drawn onto the canvas in full from the outset. In other works we are reminded of Edgar Degas’s notes about working from unusual angles: ‘set up tiers all around the room to get used to drawing things from above and below…only paint things seen in a mirror so as to become used to a hatred of trompe-l’oeil. 5 To date, Burke has worked exclusively with oil pastel which allows her to ‘draw and paint at the same time’.6 At times Burke’s more darkened compositions seem to have resemblances to 17th century Dutch genre painters such as Peter Hooch, with the door part open, leading into a beyond, or what Dunne calls: ‘take us through the image’ and beyond. 7 However overt symbolism as we know it is absent and the dry, grainy, textured finish of oil pastel is far from the finish of a Dutch genre painting. These domestic artworks are not about the relationships between people with loaded messages and innuendo, nor does Burke seek to create a psychological puzzle that we might expect in urban scapes by USA artist Edward Hopper. Looking closely at ‘Mary and Brian’s Home’ (see Burke’s photograph) above, we ask what is the artist’s intent? What is signified? Why does she take the cat out of the picture, does it hold too many associations? Why is it that we are forever curious about how the other lives? 6 Mary and Brian’s Home, Court Square - Photograph.