Why do I do it? Why do I paint those dusty old fireplaces when this stunning landscape is all around? It’s a good question alright, and one I never properly addressed – until now.
I was up in the hills above Lough Arrow in County Sligo recently. It was a place called Carrowkeel, an eerie assembly of cairns and passage graves from the Neolithic period, with fourteen hilltop tombs dating back to about 3400 BC.
(That’s about 800 years older than the Pyramids in Egypt).
It was an extraordinary experience to walk those hills and to visit the tombs. The day we were there, magnificent clouds were galumphing across the sky, adorning the heavens with glorious vistas (and occasionally showering their splendour on unwary wanderers). I could see stone cairns to the east and to the west, and northwards to Knocknarea in the distance. The scene was changing continually as shafts of sunlight darted across the landscape.
And as I looked on, entranced by the scene, I think I answered: “Why do I do it? – To try to remember…”
“Diaspora” – an exhibition at the Hamilton Gallery
We were up in Sligo for the opening of “Diaspora”, an exhibition of my paintings at the Hamilton Gallery for the month of October. The paintings are from a series of empty fireplaces in derelict houses in the West of Ireland.
Well, I had been thinking about how the old people used to keep fires going throughout the night and throughout the year, and how the fireplace was ‘the heart of a home’. I had been thinking about the fireplace in my mother’s kitchen long ago. The empty fireplaces seemed so sad, so poignant. I think the paintings are a sort of ‘requiem’ for those who have passed on.
“To try to remember”, I had answered. I seem to be continually trying to recapture something, or to rediscover some place, or to reach back in time and to find something that is all but lost… In Carrowkeel, I felt that I was almost there, I could almost reach it. I wonder though, what is the connection between the empty fireplaces and the empty tombs?
If you get a chance in the next month, drop into the Hamilton Gallery in Sligo and see what you think. And as usual, your comments are always welcome.