Invisible Lines

Kenmare Convent now Pobailscoil
Convent Afternoon 2

I like lines. Horizontal better than vertical. A painting with telephone lines in it places my work into the modern age.

Henry Rousseau’s early Parisian landscape work featured propeller planes and hot air balloons. Showing himself as a modern guy he painted what he saw: buildings, canals, boats, pylons and planes. Later of course his landscapes showed the fertile jungles of his mind, not a manmade object is in sight.

I recalled Henry last night when watching BBC. A review of David Hockney’s magnificent ‘Bigger Picture’ show was on. Only David’s nature is very much real. It is right outside the door-step. Just look, he said.


She Spent Her Afternoons on Facebook. Oil 2012


Mary Leaves a Message 

Monet created his own exquisite garden landscape to look at. He stayed, observed and depicted. Hockney drove out to a nearby wood, parked and painted. Seven years, 28 seasons.  A manmade iPad assisted, but only nature is shown.

Many of the lines connecting us can no longer be observed. Telephone lines are underground and in space now. Time, season, place is distorted. I can instantly, invisibly connect to anyone anywhere. I’d like to see wi-fi.

Deer and Data

Perhaps birds and forest animals do. My friend the beekeeper says the end is neigh because his bees can no longer cope with the invisible mobile lines.  Seasons, thoughts and prayers just may share the same band-with as Nokia.

Heritage Week

County Kerry Music Archive Group
Trad Music and Heritage Art

The exhibition Building Stories: Interpretations of County Kerry’s Built Heritage was opened last night (20/08/2011) in the Kerry Literary Museum in Listowel by Minister Jimmy Deenihan. The event marked County Kerry’s contribution to the nation-wide Heritage Week. Building Stories was conceived and curated by Rosaleen Crushell, a heritage architect based in Dublin and Kenmare ( Eleven works by ten artists were chosen from open entry submissions. Mediums included oils, photographs, drawings and computer prints. Each piece carried an artist’s statement on how the work connected with the exhibition’t theme. My work, Empty Extension, can be seen in the image to the left – behind some very talented Listowel musicians who are developing an archive of the traditional music of North Kerry. The art exhibition will move to Kenmare Credit Union for the week on Mon 22-26/08. Do drop in and you can view and read about Danny Long’s painting Kenmare Bridge and admire Ms Crushell’s detailed drawing Kenmare cinema facade study amongst others.

Prior to attending the show opening in Listowel, I enjoyed two other free Heritage Week events:

Yew Wood, Killarney National Park
Yew Wood Killarney

On this Saturday’s sunny and calm morning 35 walkers gathered at Muckross House, Killarney National Park. A Forest & Woodland Walk, led by Chris Barron of KNP Education Center, took us through various woodlands along the Muckross Peninsula. We learned about the limestone and red granite foundations of the woods and got tips for identifying various trees and plants – arbutus and yew among them. This picture shows the incredible Yew Wood, one of the three remaining in all of Europe. I left the walk with a handful of free information leaflets on our native trees, wild life habitats and a nifty map of the National Park area.

My afternoon stop was Tralee, an event titled  Life and Death in Medieval Tralee at the Kerry County Museum. Our guide, Claudia Kohler, brought the exhibition to life with her in depth historical commentary. Responding to Ms Kohler’s encouragement to explore the museum further, I came across a roomful of photographs drawn from the Kennelly Collection ( showing what life was like in Co Kerry from 1950 to 1973.

Potato pickingShot in rich black and white by renowned Tralee photographer Padraig Kennelly, the pictures in this exhibit cover many aspects of the peoples’ daily experience: at work on the farm, attending school, taking tea, going to dances, at and participating in sporting events, and gatherings with family. While some pictures reveal the inevitable and sad loss of young people to immigration, these are counter-balanced by shots of joyful reunions – girls dressed for the Yank’s Ball and other seasonal celebrations. Although most of these pictures were taken in my life time, the faces in the pictures seem to me to come from another era. Fashions are influenced by Hollywood. Interestingly, there is nary a heavy body in sight. We lived with so much less in those days.

Check out the Heritage Council’s website for events in your area.


Past Midsummer Magic

Ilmatar comforts Aisling

Midsummer 2011, the shortest night of the year, passed by with little ado here in Ireland. There was no holiday, just a brief note in the calendar that the midpoint in the waxing and waning of light came. The Irish Examiner did report that some persons in East Cork part took in the ancient Viking custom of burning bonfires on the night. Jumping over the fire 3 times will clear you of sins and sickness for the upcoming year it is said. But there were no reports of wild dancing around flaming heaps of gorse by Kerry maidens engaged in love and fertility rituals.

After the long dark winter in Scandinavia the presence of the light of the long ‘nightless’ summer night is so powerful that celebration should be inevitable. But to my dismay modern Finland no longer celebrates midsummer on the 21st of June. The ever-so-pragmatic lawmakers have instead moved the celebration to the nearest weekend to save labour costs so as, I presume, to keep the industrial machine going. I am dismayed. The midsummer celebration is now a postdated event.  This year it was June 24-25.

For today’s Finns Juhannus (midsummer) is now just another summer bank holiday weekend of sauna, swimming, grilling, drinking, music and mayhem. However having lived abroad since the 70s I recall memories of nightless nights on the date, and the fertility and love rituals associated with it. The ones I learned involved sauna, bonfires, reflections on water, red bands tied to naked waists and gazing at a sun that never sets. Here are some that I have passed on to my daughters:

Lush (2003)

On the midsummer night you must collect seven different flowers, place them under your pillow, and you will meet your love in your dream. Tie the flowers with seven stalks of hay for extra assurance.

A fern flowers only on midsummer’s night. If you can find one, gaze upon it. Your luck in the coming year will be assured.

Listen for and count the cuckoo’s call. The number of calls corresponds to the years it will take for you to meet your love. If you hear none, you will meet your mate in the coming year.

My artwork  Ilmatar Comforts Aisling brings to mind the magic of the midsummer of my youth. It was selected for the Oireachtas Exhibition in 2008, and depicts Ilmatar, the Finnish Goddess of Air, reaching out to Aisling, the Irish embodiment of the ideal dream. It is an unashamedly romantic image with harps, stars, flowing hair and maidens, embodying an ideal of European unity. In the light of EU 2011 is it indeed just a dream?

Forest Floor
Forest Floor (2003)

Lush and Forest Floor are two small oils that depict non-flowering ferns (I’ve never seen them in flower), leaves, berries and grasses that one encounters when walking in nature in the western world. These works have no directional orientation. They can be hung any way up. Turning them around occasionally for a fresh view is encouraged.

All three are on show at Cleo, Shelbourne St, Kenmare

Showing at Cleo, Kenmare

Happy that Helen has reopened her lovely space @ Cleo, on Shelbourne St, Kenmare. On show at the moment are woolens, ceramics, unique artwear, funky chairs, drawings and paintings – mine amongst others! Do go in and take a look. The selection is evolving as more items are added. Cleo is open every day.

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