Yes, I’d have to admit that I was a Romantic – I liked the poetry of Keats and Shelley, and the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich… and I like Yeats, although he does get a bit heavy, betimes.
But it’s about the Romantics versus the Classics – colour versus design, night versus day, emotion versus reason – and I go for the feelings every time. I might even say that my head hurts if I’m forced to do too much analysis or reasoning or dialectical discussion (argh – dialectics).
It’s like that when I look at art. For me, it has to start with a sensation. If it doesn’t grab my attention visually at first, I might not give it the time it needs for analysis.
But I’m writing today because of an exhibition organised by the Hamilton Gallery in Sligo. It’s an exhibition of invited artists responding to the poem Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen, by W.B. Yeats. (You can see my contribution above – the title is a line from the poem.) This exhibition will be located in both the Hamilton Gallery and the Hyde Bridge Gallery. My piece will be in the Hyde Bridge Gallery which is in the Yeats Building in Sligo.
There’s a soft launch tonight but the official opening by the Irish Ambassador to Washington Daniel Mulhall will be on Thursday, 1st of August in the Hyde Bridge Gallery. The opening will be part of the 60th Yeats International Summer School and of the Tread Softly Festival.
Following its Sligo appearance, the exhibition will tour to the Irish Consulate in New York where it will be on display from late September until November.
The poem Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen is not an easy poem. It is heavy with symbolism. It uses as its focal point, the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) and it cautions against allowing feelings take over completely and lead to barbarity. It also alludes to classical, mythological – and even contemporary events.