Yes, it’s true: I collect stones. Not in a scientific or geological sort of way but I just pick ones up that catch my eye. Momentos I suppose. I have a load of them on a window sill in the studio but actually, I don’t remember where most of them come from. I have a piece of lava from Mount Etna in Sicily but other than that… they’re just stones.
But each one is beautiful in its own way and they are reminders to me that I should get out of the studio and go for a walk on a beach or maybe – climb a mountain.
And Achill Island is a great place for would-be stone collectors. There are at least four different coloured stones there: purple, grey-green, orange and white. The geologists would tell you that the basement rocks of Achill are among the oldest in Ireland: Pre-Cambrian, over 600 million years old, primarily schist, gneiss and quartzite. So that explains that.
I was there recently, doing an artist’s residency at the Heinrich Böll Cottage in Dugort (such a great privilege).
There is a deserted village nearby on the slopes of Slievemore with about 70 stone cottages that were abandoned around the time of the Irish Famine. I thought I might explore there and perhaps continue with my Tinteán Tréigthe paintings, a series of empty fireplaces in abandoned homes in the West of Ireland.
But as it happens, there were no fireplaces to be found in these cottages. They must’ve had the fire in the middle of the floor with the smoke escaping through a hole in the roof. So, back to the stones.
It seemed to me that there was a whole new world to be seen in these stones – entire continents! So this might be my next area of artistic research. Any advice? Favourite rock perhaps? Leave a comment down below.