The significance of Spuds

watercolour of potato by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

So much to take in this past week, so much bad stuff.  Sometimes it’s good to take a break from it all and do a bit of gardening.

Potatoes.  You plant them five inches deep. There’s that anxious wait for the first fortnight when nothing happens but then, the joy of seeing those first green shoots when they push through!

And now they’re just bursting out all over.  It’s uplifting just to look at those lush green leaves.  And when it’s time to reach down into the damp cool earth and discover those lovely cream-coloured balls of flour – such a moment to savour.

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of potato plants

Now, speaking of potatoes, you can see some watercolour paintings on this post, from my ongoing series inspired by potatoes. I started them last year for the Bloomsday Festival exhibition at the Olivier Cornet Gallery.

Just recently, these paintings were featured by Laurel Taylor in the James Joyce Quarterly at the University of Tulsa, USA.  Her short article about the significance of spuds in Joyce’s Ulysses makes very interesting reading.

watercolour by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Now, it’s true that these watercolours started off as potatoes but they have developed in various, more abstract directions since then.  Is there the hint of a face?  Are they like green planets?  For me, they seem to embody a sort of Geophilia or love of the earth and all things natural.

Because the Climate Crisis has not gone away, you know !

But back to Bloomsday. This year, the Olivier Cornet Gallery will be presenting another Joyce themed exhibition.  Entitled: “The Morphing Feminine” , it will be an exploration of the ‘womanly man’ and the ‘subversion of masculinity’.

For myself, I’ll be tending to my garden this year but, for your information, the online opening will be happening on the 16th of June at 7pm.

Article by Laurel Taylor


  1. The humble spud! Pictiúir go hálainn. An dara fata ansin (an ceann glas) déarfadh Bríd go raibh se “gréineach.” Tá mé ag ceapadh gurb éard atá i gceist ná go raibh sé gar don dromchla nó cuid de b’fhéidir beagán os cionn an dromchla agus go raibh an ghrian ag scairteadh air – sin é an fáth go bhfuil an dath glas air – agus ní bheadh aon mheas acu air mar fhata – bheadh sé go dona!

    Tá súil agam go bhfuil sibh go maith!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eoin, who would have thought the humble potato could be painted so sensitively and ethereal even though they are such an earthy object. You’ve done wonderful watercolours of them transforming them into such a universal hybrid .


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