Nature takes over, gradually covering the ground and climbing the walls of crumbling dwelling places. Yes, back up in North West Donegal again and searching for a house where my great grandmother once lived. This time I had it on good authority that her one-roomed cottage was one of a small group of cottages, ‘a black dot near the letter “S” of Newtown Springfield’ on the map, not far from An Tamhnaigh… Hmmm, exactly how far was ‘not far’, I wasn’t sure.
Well I’ve written about my fascination for crumbling buildings before but here we go again – I have an exhibition in An Gailearaí in Gaoth Dobhair, a solo show entitled Tinteáin and I’m really happy to have the show here because it’s where I first began my series of paintings of empty fireplaces. (The painting above is one of my more recent ones). I’ve told the story of the fireplaces before – see the link below:
A few years ago I was on an artist’s residency near Gort a’ Choirce when I met up with the poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh. He showed me one of his poems – Na Bailte Bánaithe – about how spirits haunt the land, long after the people who lived there had gone. Here’s a short extract, with my translation below.
Tá ochlán chaointe sa ghaoth
a shéideann aniar ó Altán
is anseo tá damhán alla
ag fí aibíd an bháis
i bhfuinneog bhearnach an tseantí
inar chonaí mo chineál fadó.
There’s a loud wailing cry on the wind
that blows eastward from Altan
and a spider weaves a shroud
in the vacant window of the house
where my people lived long ago.
…and my uncle mentioned a painting of Mulroy Bay by my grandfather and we wondered what had happened to it. Well I don’t know but I did a painting of Mulroy Bay myself, let’s see now… probably 25 years ago now. That’s it below, possibly the same view that my great grandmother had, fadó fadó agus is fadó bhí…
PS: The solo exhibition Tinteáin follows on from my Diaspora exhibition with the Olivier Cornet Gallery in Dublin last October. It’s on the same theme but all of the works are new.