The Climate is changing at the RHA

oil painting by John fitzsimons
John Fitzsimons: ‘Acid reign’

You know of course that Dublin is the driest part of the country. Yes, in the sunny south-east of Ireland, they think that they have the nicest weather but no, it’s better still in Dublin.

How do I know this? Well, ask any all-year cyclist – they’ll tell you that they rarely need their raingear in Dublin. Something to do with the Dublin mountains, they say. Those clouds dump their watery load in the hills and then they just ‘sail on by’.

But that’s unless there’s an extreme weather event (and unfortunately these are getting more and more frequent nowadays)… I was thinking about this as we were preparing for VUE at the RHA this year.

VUE is Ireland’s annual Contemporary Art Fair. Most of the top galleries take part. It’s great, you don’t have to traipse all over town to see them, they’re all there under the one roof. It’s not only the Dublin galleries, of course – there are eighteen of Ireland’s top contemporary art galleries there, all vying for your attention and promoting their own particular strands of contemporary art.

painting by Kelly Ratchford about Climate change
Kelly Ratchford: ‘the last flower’

But the Olivier Cornet Gallery’s show will be different. The title is: 2°C and it’s all about Climate Change. It is supported by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA Ireland) and it is opening tonight, the 2nd of November. I hope we’ll see you there. If not tonight, maybe sometime over the weekend?

The paintings above are both in the show, by two very interesting artists with the Olivier Cornet Gallery – John Fitzsimons and Kelly Ratchford. And there are several more good works – sculpture, ceramics and paintings that raise questions and start conversations… They’re not just pretty pictures, you know – the climate is changing.

installation of "2 degrees", an exhibition curated by Olivier Cornet at VUE at the RHA 2017
Installation view of 2°C at VUE Art Fair 2017, at the RHA (pic: Olivier Cornet)

And now, down below, at the bottom of this page, you can fill in your thoughts and comments. I’d love to hear from you. Have you given much thought to Climate Change? Do you think you can do anything about it? Do you think artists could do more about it? Do you think that they should? Your comments are always welcome.

More information at:





  1. HI Eoin, nice post. I don’t think artists have any ‘Duty’ to do something about climate change. I do think, though, in these changing times, that it might be good to make art that matters. Suzi Gablik said that we, as artists, can no longer make art in complete disregard for the planet. I agree with the sentiment, though I don’t feel that all of us should turn into activists if that isn’t where our heart is.

    I am inspired by artists whose work is practical and beautiful, yet also connected to a larger truth than just the marketplace. I’m thinking of AtelierNL in Holland, for example, where two women make ceramics and glass from local sand and clay. There is a deep awareness of story, place and ecology integrated into their work, which does result in a product, but the message is just as important. Then there are artists who dedicate themselves wholly to their calling, putting in the 10,000 hours to perfect their craft, and whose work uplifts my spirit. That is art without overt activism, but which still is adding something of value to the world and the world’s soul. cheers, Sarah


    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment Sarah. It’s nice to hear from you. Suzi Gablik was a big influence on me when I was in art college. I’m thinking of working in watercolour for a while now and really try and get to grips with it. One reason for this is that I think that using watercolour instead of oils would have a less detrimental effect on the planet (I always feel my use of white spirit and turps etc must be terrible). Anyway, we’ll see how it goes… all the best for now, eoin


      • So glad you are familiar with Gablik, she opened my eyes, all the way back in the 80s.

        I’ll look forward to seeing your watercolours. I’ve done a lot in that medium, it used to be my favourite, but it is difficult. No painting over.

        About the turps question, I switched from oils to acrylics because I sleep in my studio a lot of the time and yes, the fumes aren’t good. But when I was using oils, I first dipped my brushes into a lemon oil ‘solvent’ that has no- or at least substantially less- harmful fumes, and then cleaned them with soap and water.
        They’re making all kinds of eco friendly brush cleaners and ‘solvents’ these days. Maybe you could look into those as well as working on your watercolours.


      • about the watercolours – my main problem is the page warping. I know I’m supposed to tape it down etc but I like the torn edge effect on the watercolour paper… regarding the lemon zest, yes I can get that here but the little bottle is very expensive. I use big tins of white spirit and then let the paint settle to the bottom – so that I have dirty yellow spirit after a while 🙂 regarding acrylics, I find the colours in oil paint are so much nicer but I use acrylics as the first layer in my oil paints. there ye go. bye for now, eoin


Leave a Reply, I'd like to hear your viewpoint.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s