art installations, Nature

Something in the Trees


oil painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of trees at night, Co. Donegal
“In the trees”, 30 x 30cm, oil on canvas, 2013

From earliest time, trees have been respected and revered. They were our lofty guardians. As a single tree provides shade to the traveller, collectively trees protect all life on this planet. They provide a habitat for a wide variety of smaller plants, animals, birds, insects, spiders (ugh) and micro-organisms. But trees as a work of art – that’s extra special, I think.

And there’s a wonderful example of this to be seen in a forest near Grianán an Aileach in Co. Donegal.  It’s a Celtic cross, one hundred metres long, comprised of thousands of deciduous trees. At this time of year, it can be seen in all its autumnal glory, as you fly into the City of Derry Airport.

It was on television the other night, a report by UTV’s Gareth Wilkinson (and I have a link to that report below).  This beautiful project was the brainchild of forester Liam Emmery. The poor man died a few years ago, aged just 51, but his creation will live on for fifty or sixty 60 years more. I think perhaps he’s up there now, watching over his forest and grinning in delight at all the attention it is receiving.

a photograph of the celtic cross seen in a forest near Grianán an Aileach, Co. Donegal
The Celtic Cross in a forest near Grianán an Aileach, Co. Donegal

In Celtic folklore, Hallowe’en or Samhain marked the end of one year and the passing into the next and it was believed that at this time, a window into the ‘otherworld’ was temporarily opened so that mortals and spirits could communicate. The souls of the dead were thought to return home for this one night and therefore candles were lit, prayers were offered and then, there was great feasting and fun.

But the walking zombies, the vampires and ghouls, the crazy artificial cobwebs…  Where did this amaidí come from, I wonder.  For me, as a reminder of our ancestors, I think I’d prefer the cross in the woods.



art, art installations, artists, Gaeilge, Palimpsest/ Rianú

Occupying Space, achieving Balance – gold leaf and old photographs

photo of gold leaf artwork by Nuala Ni Fhlathuin

Mmmmmmmm. Gold leaf, so delicate, so pure, so fragile. This is what artist Nuala Ní Fhlathúin has been using in her artworks in recent times. You might’ve seen some of her work at the National Gallery this year, on Culture Night, as part of the IdirÁite projections.

I don’t know if you’ve ever used gold leaf but it is actually real gold that has been hammered into extremely thin sheets and is generally used for gilding frames and other decorative surfaces. Now when I say ‘extremely thin’, I mean extremely, EXTREMELY thin. It is so light that it could fall apart or blow away in the slightest breeze. But Ní Fhlathúin uses it for this very reason.

So I’m paraphrasing now but her art practice is an investigation into material processes and procedures, exploring the mysterious divide between material reality and the disembodied world of abstract sequenced thought. She works with ceramics, soil, string, fragments of paper and other such found objects, paying attention to their distinct physical properties – their weight, their balance, their particular way of occupying space, how they impinge on each other etc…

The image above shows a detail from a piece for IdirÁite, inspired by a painting by Francesco Da Rimini entitled: “The Crucifixion, Noli Me Tangere” but I also wanted to show her work for The Palimpsest/ Rianú Project at The Pearse Museum (See below). Here she was working with educational texts and photographs preserved by the Museum. It’s an installation in a glass case. That cut-out photo, by the way, happens to be my grand uncle Frank, as a young fella!


artwork from the palimpsest/Rianu Project
“Léaráid 1/ Diagram 1”, by Nuala Ní Fhlathúin


So, bhí muintir Mhic Lochlainn an-tógthaí leis an píosa ealaíne seo a chruthaigh Nuala. D’aithin mé an sean-ghrianghraf sin ach níor chuimhin liom ar dtús gur ár sean-uncail Frank a bhí ann (mar leaidín óg). Chuaigh eisean ar scoil i Scoil Éanna agus is amhlaigh gur ghlac sé páirt i ndráma eicint mar Setanta. Bhí an-spéis ag an bPiarsach sna sean-scéalta agus sa bhFiannaíocht agus bhíodh drámaí acu go minic leis na scoláirí a spreagradh. Bhí Cú Chulainn mar eiseamláir ag na buachaillí, agus an mana a bhí ag an scoil ná: “Glaine inár gcroíthe, neart inár ngéaga agus beart de réir ár mbriathra” – an mana céanna a bhí ag na Fianna.

Tá mé ag ceapadh gur chuimhin liomsa Frank mar sheanfhear maol. Is cuimhin liom a dhéarthár níos fearr, ár sean uncail John. Fear ard a bhí ann le srón maorga. (Tá an srón céanna tar éis teacht chun solais arís is aríst inár gclann ó shin) (níl sé agamsa).

Ach, ó thaobh na h-ealaíne de, cheap mé go raibh sé spéisiúl mar a chuir Nuala an gasúirín óg le chéile le banna gasúirí agus mar a bhí roinnt eile acu ina luí – ar Chnoc an Áir, b’fhéidir…  Nuair a thosnaíonn tú ag scrúdú mar a d’eagraigh sí na píosaí éagsúla, feictear go bhfuil gach sórt scéalta agus smaointe fite fuaite san saothar ealaíne seo.

Beidh an taispeántas seo ar siúl i Músaem na bPiarsach go dtí deireadh mí na Samhna.

The Pearse Museum is open every day except Tuesdays

9.30 – 5.30pm. Do drop out for a visit, it’s in St.Enda’s Park in Rathfarnham and there’s a nice coffee shop there too.




art installations, Nature

Crows and Conspiracy on the Continent

photo by Ken Hay


The Larroque Arts Festival opened this weekend in the south of France.  I’d love to be there but unfortunately I won’t make it this time. L’art contemporain en milieu rurale is what it’s all about and the festival is organised by Kenneth Hay, Professor (emeritus) of Contemporary Art Practice at the University of Leeds. The theme this year is ‘The forest’ and the work is exhibited around the tiny village of Larroque.  The photo above (thanks to Ken) shows Galerie La Vieille Poste. The idea is to introduce international contemporary artists to a rural environment and vice versa, and to meet up with local and regional artists to encourage artistic exchanges.

So the photo below shows my own work. It’s an installation entitled “Conspiracy of Crows” that I created a few years ago in Co.Wicklow. Made from sticks and secondhand farmer’s plastic from South Kilkenny.

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of wodland installation
Conspiracy of Crows

There’s more about the festival at

and also at

More of my own work to be seen at


art, art installations, Exhibitions

Exhibitions in Ireland in 2014

First, here’s a link to a one minute video of my solo show: Dídean/Home in No.69 O’Connell Street, Limerick (formerly known as the Belltable Arts Centre). If you didn’t manage to get to it, this’ll give you a fair idea of how it looked. We’re just back from Limerick now, delighted to have been part of the Limerick City of Culture events and very happy with the response to the exhibition. This summer has been a bit hectic so far – first the solo show in the Dunamaise Arts Centre in Port Laoise in March and April, then the next version of the solo show in Limerick in May – and the groupshow in An Gailearaí in Donegal in between. And an artist’s residency for a month on Inis Oirr in the middle of all that! So I needn’t tell you that I’m glad to be home again and looking forward to getting back into the studio for the next while.

I’ll be posting stuff on this blog more regularly from now on – I try to write about once a week, I hope you like it, and do let me know what you think, I love getting feedback. PS – next week, it’ll be about “grykes and clints”. Mystified? No, It’s not some kind of new artspeak…

but check out the video at first of all and you can see more about that show and other artworks at


art, art installations, Exhibitions


Have artists always been outsiders? I have been visiting Port Laoise for the last few years, teaching art in the prison and working on various Artist-in-Prison projects, so I was delighted when I got the opportunity to exhibit my work at the Dunamaise Arts Centre.

We had the opening there on Friday night and, several people had travelled a good distance to be at the show, from Dublin, from Tullamore, from Abbeyleix, even from as far away as Carrick-on-Suir. It was lovely to meet everyone, although I have to say that for me, I’m generally too stressed to be able to have a decent conversation with anyone on the night. But that said, I really appreciate people coming to the opening.

So why the stress? – well, it’s the speeches. I wouldn’t mind, I always like hearing other people’s speeches, and Mark Kavanagh, the principal teacher in Port Laoise Prison gave a very moving speech at the opening but, when I’m up there, in front of the crowd… (gulp) – it’s frightening. But I think it’s important so I always try to do it.

Alice Leahy, founder of Trust, and myself at the opening
Alice Leahy, founder of Trust, and myself at the opening

I wanted to do it especially last Friday because I wanted to talk about Trust – a charitable organisation that looks after the needs of homeless people. The founder of Trust, Alice Leahy was in the crowd and I wanted to acknowledge her presence. I felt honoured that she had decided to come to the show.

Now, Trust has a wonderful website at – and I’m sure we’ll talk about that again but for now, I just wanted to say that – to be homeless is not just about not having a place to stay, it’s more about ‘not belonging’ or ‘feeling unwanted’  (by the way, the term used these days is ‘Outsiders’, rather than ‘Homeless People’)

I dedicated my exhibition to the Outsiders. You can see more about it at:

art, art installations, Exhibitions

I have great friends on Facebook

Well, I just wanted to thank all my friends on Facebook who wrote such nice comments about my latest painting. I was touched.

I wasn’t really thinking too much about it when I put it up there on Facebook.  I suppose I must’ve been happy with it but you know, when you’re coming up to a solo show, there’s so much to think about, so much stuff to do – from press releases to catering to guest lists to photography to… ah, all sorts of stuff that has so little to do with the creation of artworks that, well it’s just hard to think of the art with all that’s going on, it’s hard to actually decide what’s good or what to leave out. So thanks friends for your encouragement. GRMMA.

So now, for my friends in Bloggyland, who aren’t on Facebook, here’s the painting again. I hope you like it.

oil painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

PS: There’s more to see on my website

art, art installations, Exhibitions

Coffee, Contemporary art and Community

So some of you might’ve seen the piece below before, but I’m showing it again because it’s going to feature in my new solo exhibition in the Dunamaise Arts Centre in Port Laoise, during the months of March and April, 2014.

Art installation made from used coffee cups

Now don’t worry – I’ll be sending you an invitation to the official opening soon, at least to those of you who live in Ireland, but we’re still finalising some of the details.  I do know that there will be plenty of sambos and tea and coffee provided for those of you who have to travel from afar to the opening. 

But speaking of coffee, the installation above is made from over 500 empty, used coffee cups. I’ve been collecting these from friends and relations over the last few years. My main supplier/donator is my sister who works in a big office in Dublin – many workers, many coffee drinkers, much stress…

During the era of the ‘Celtic Tiger’, the coffee cup became a symbol for me of the boom economy. We didn’t know ourselves with all the fancy coffees we could choose from – the Lattes, the Mochas, the Mocha Lattes, the Cappucinos, the Babyccinos, the Babyccinos with marshmallows – mmmm, wasn’t it just coffee heaven! But then at the end of the day, the empty paper cups were being used by the homeless to beg on the street.

But you know, the people who come to my exhibitions – they’re not the ones ‘who lost the run of themselves’ during the Celtic Tiger. No, we weren’t “all at it”, as some punters have suggested. Some people believe that there’s more to life than making a quick profit, and perhaps, that art may encourage a deeper and more enduring understanding of our lives and our world than we get from the newsmedia.

We’re in this art community together – and let me say that it’s really nice for me to see the same people coming back again and again to see the art. I hope to see you all again soon. Except for during the rush hour, the Dunamaise Arts Centre is about one hour’s drive from Dublin. Check out