Nature, photography

An idea that could spread and spread…

photo of Forget-me-nots by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

My brother told me once that if I planted Forget-me-nots in the garden, I’d never see the end of them and you know, he was right.  They spread.  They pop up everywhere.  (It’s wonderful).  They came from my mother’s garden and they always remind me of her. (She passed away 21 years ago next Monday)

But I was over in Glasnevin Cemetery where my parents are buried and I had an idea.  That graveyard is so cold, windswept and stony that nothing grows there – nothing that is – except maybe for Forget-me-nots?

So I had an idea for a new art installation. A secret “time-based” piece, what you might call: “Guerrilla art” and this was it:

For the sake of all those lonely, un-tended graves where no one visits, what if I were to plant Forget-me-nots – firstly on my parents’ grave – but then the following year, the seeds would’ve blown around and established themselves in nearby graves and then, as the years passed, they would spread further and further until every year, for the month of May, the whole graveyard would be covered in a carpet of tiny skyblue flowers, and the poor lonely souls need never feel neglected again.

photo of Forget-me-nots by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Well, that was my idea – and I tried it once but no, even the Forget-me-nots couldn’t eke out a living in that barren place.  So that was that, or so I thought, and the years passed and even plastic flowers wouldn’t stay put where they’d been put.

But then, one day I went to check on a flowerpot I’d brought over from our garden, a pot which had contained some healthy Campanula flowers.

Photo of Campanula by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Now Campanula, as you probably know, is the type of flower that would grow out of cracks in the wall if you let them (see above) but no, even they had withered and died in this arid desert of a place.

But wait!  The pot was still there; the dead Campanulas were still dead but now, there were some Forget-me-nots blooming in the pot instead!

So now, don’t tell anyone! This is just the start. Maybe, just maybe we have a new project – happening all by itself this time. Maybe Mother Nature liked my idea and decided to take it on, herself!  What do you think?

Gentians on Inismaan

An focal scoir:  Deartháir eile liom a thóg an pictiúr seo thús. Dúirt sé gur Ceadharlach Bealtaine an t-ainm oifigiúil ar na bláthanna gorma seo (na Gentians) ach go dtugtar Pabhsaeir na Maighdine orthu ar Inis Meáin. (Ach dúirt sé freisin go dtugtar Pabhsaeir na Maighdine ar aon bhláth ghorm ar Inis Meáin). ‘Sé Lus míonla an t-ainm oifigiúil ar na Forget-me-nots ach is maith liomsa Cuimhní na Maighdine a thabhairt orthu. Céard é do mheas?

Isn’t there just something extra special about blue flowers?


Concerning the Other, Curating

Would you like to join the Inner Circle?

Dear Reader, I haven’t done this before but – could I possibly ask you for a favour? Can you help me please with an art project entitled: “Concerning the Other”

(Before I go any further, I’d just like to thank some wonderful people who, straight away, lent us their support as soon as we put out the call.  It is really heartening to see such generosity of spirit. You know who ye are, folks… extra special people, thank you again!)

“Concerning the Other” is a project in which ten artists are working together to produce one hundred pieces of art. Each of us has produced a first image which we will soon be emailing on to the next artist in the group. He or she will work over it and then email it on to the next artist – until all ten artists have worked on all ten pieces.

“Words cannot…” by Eoin Mac Lochlainn – 80 x 90cm, oil on canvas, 2008
“Words cannot…” by Eoin Mac Lochlainn – 80 x 90cm, oil on canvas, 2008

Why would we do this? Well, we were thinking that in these times of mounting racism and intolerance, artists can take a lead in promoting diversity and solidarity – by showing concern for minorities instead of adding to the frenzy of hate.

So we’ll be going over each other’s work. I reckon that’ll be a challenge in itself. We’d better be sure to take the others into account… but of course, that’s what it’s all about.

And where do you come in? Well, if you could sponsor us, we’d really appreciate it. We’ll be printing out the final pieces for an exhibition in September and that’s the main cost of the project. If you could give us €10, that would be brilliant (but of course, you can give more if you wish)

Painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn entitled "Home", 66 x 86cm oil on canvas, 2011
Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness – ‘Home’ by Eoin Mac Lochlainn – 66 x 86cm, oil on canvas, 2011

This is a “crowd funding” project. It’s being facilitated by Fund it, at

It’s all about people “pledging” money to fund the project. Only if the goal of €1500 in pledges is reached will anyone be paying out. But when you pledge money, there are various “rewards” that you will receive.

You’ll get to see the ‘behind the scenes’ story of how the works of art are developing each week. There’ll be a special Private View for Funders before the official launch of the exhibition. Special discounts too, depending on how much you pledge…

You can read all about it on our facebook page at

So that’s my story. I’m one of the curators of this project. Olivier Cornet and Claire Halpin are the other two. It’d be lovely if you could join us in the “inner circle” of the project. Please, please click on the Fund it link below and register today. You can do it anonymously if you wish – but maybe, you might let me know if you do?  And can I say in advance:  thanks a million!

art exhibitions, community festivals

Irish Portraits

unfinished sketch of Richard Allen by Dave Gleeson
Sketch of Richard Allen by Dave Gleeson

There’s a lot happening at the Harold’s Cross Community Festival this week but I’ll just tell you today about the show that I’m curating as part of it.

It’s an exhibition of portraits by local artist Dave Gleeson. (That’s one of his drawings above). He makes these meticulous, finely crafted drawings in graphite and pastel that must take an age to complete. Each piece is carefully composed using various references to tell the story of the sitter.

But the drawing above is unfinished (I unceremoniously wrested it out of his grasp for this blog post) because I wanted to show you Richard Allen, the celebrated Quaker and philanthropist who was born in 1803 at 201, Harold’s Cross Road, Dublin (seen below).  It’s in a terrible state at the moment but the good news is that it has finally been agreed to fix it up.

Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Quaker house in Harold's Cross, Dublin

The theme of the festival this year is diversity and inclusion. There was a great lecture about the Quakers on Tuesday evening. I’ll tell you – those Quakers got themselves into an awful lot of trouble down through the centuries for many reasons. For instance, they believed in equal status for men and women; they believed in everyone being equal in the eyes of God; they refused to pay tithes to the Anglican church; they refused to take an oath of allegiance to any monarch. I tell you: the more I hear, the more I like them!

But Richard Allen was active in movements for prison reform, the abolition of the death penalty and more particularly, for the abolition of slavery. In 1840 he attended the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London, the other Irish delegates being Daniel O’Connell and Richard Robert Madden. His friends included the freed slave Frederick Douglass, the temperance campaigner Fr. Theobald Mathew, the philanthropist Dr. Barnardo and the composer Thomas Moore.

And did I mention that he also raised £20,000 to help victims of the Irish Famine? His concern for the other was second to none.

His portrait can be seen alongside portraits of various Irish personalities from the literary and musical world at La Galerie Impromptu in Harold’s Cross until Sunday, the 14th of May. Well worth a visit!

And, speaking of “Concern for the Other”, there was an innovative new art project launched this week that you might like. I’ll tell you more about it next week but in the meantime, you could check out:


Irish art, sculpture

Are you wondering what to do next?

I’ve spent the last two days clearing out the studio (it’s now in a worse mess than before) but it’ll be better tomorrow, hopefully.

It’s not a bad thing to do. You can get totally overwhelmed by the detritus of old projects and the bits and pieces ‘that might possibly be useful some day’, and this burgeoning clutter can have a detrimental effect on your mood as well on your workspace.

Progress? 6" x 6" metal grid, shadow, 2004 artwork by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
Progress?   6″ x 6″ metal grid, shadow, 2004

You see, for the most part, you’re on your own in this space, working away at something – unlike any “normal people’s work. Yes, it’s a strange occupation. I remember once the late Tony O’Malley said to me: “Painting is a mystery, like poetry… you have to listen. It’s available to you, as long as you don’t presume…”

Still, you sometimes stand there alone, wondering what to do next.

But as I was clearing, I came across this piece of wire (see above). I made that back in 2004 and it was exhibited in 6×6 for Ireland at the Central Academy of Fine Art in China (organised by James Ryan of the 411 Gallery, Hangzhou).

Yes, of course, it’s just a bit of ould wire but I like to think of it as a 3-dimensional drawing. It was referring to all those building projects that were underway back then. It had no colour, increasing the effect of the cold inhumanity of it all.

I was incorporating those grids into a lot of the work back then.  Below is another one, a more hopeful one, I suppose.  Breaking free from the grid. The shadows and the different sources of light were an important element in these works.

Birdsong, 6" x 6", oil on canvas, metal grid, shadow, 2005 artwork by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
Birdsong, 6″ x 6″, oil on canvas, metal grid, shadow, 2005

So, if you’re wondering what to do next – why not have a rummage in the attic, or in the shed.  You just never know what you might find or what new direction it might lead you. (Don’t throw anything out) and, if you happen to come across something interesting… maybe you’ll let me know about it?

Central Academy of Fine Art, Beijing, China