Art musings

Home Sweet Home

oil painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of bonfire outside old shack of homeless man

Yes, there’s a problem with homelessness in Ireland. It brings shame on us all – we’re supposed to be “cherishing all our children equally” but there are over 260 people sleeping rough on the streets of the capital every night and 70 families, still losing their homes every month. This is the concrete results of those “austerity measures”.

So the big news this week is that a group of concerned citizens took over Apollo House, an empty office block in Tara Street in Dublin and made it available to people who had lost their homes. Of course, it was an illegal act – but a good one.

The empty building was under the control of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), the ‘bad bank’ set up by the Irish government after the economic crash. Since the weekend, volunteers have been working flat out to make the building reasonably suitable as accommodation.

Apollo House, Tara Street, Dublin
Apollo House, Tara Street (photo from Archiseek.com)

There has been a huge outpouring of support for the project, with more than €90,000 being raised through a GoFundMe page in the first 3 days for the “Home Sweet Home” campaign. It’s still going on – click on that link yourself!

Activists including singer/songwriter Glen Hansard argue that because the building is linked to NAMA, it belongs to the Irish people…  “This is an act of civil disobedience”, he said, “We shouldn’t have to do it but the government is not doing its job to house the homeless.”

So that’s my Christmas story for you. It’s great to see the people caring about the most vulnerable in our society, even if the government doesn’t.

the cardboard crib
My cardboard crib at Mount Argus – if Mary came to Dublin today, where would she find a place to stay?

Nollaig Shona, a chairde. Have a lovely Christmas, talk soon, eoin

http://www.eoinmaclochlainn.com/

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/

https://www.gofundme.com/home-sweet-home-ireland

http://archiseek.com/2010/apollo-house-tara-street-dublin/

https://www.svp.ie/get-involved/donate/single-donation.aspx

 

 

Art musings

And so, this is Christmas?

painting of trees at sunset by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

I painted these trees on a windy mountainside in northwest Donegal – probably not Christmas trees, just the regular forestry trees. I had often tramped those lonely mountain tracks, wandering and wondering.

Now?  No, I’m not a big fan of Christmas anymore. Maybe it’s just for kids. But I find the parties, the ridiculous jumpers, the presents, the shopping to be like a foreign world where other people participate in strangely meaningless excesses.

When did it change for me? I can’t say… I saw a documentary on telly last night, ‘Toughest Place to be’, the tale of a street cleaner from Dublin who travelled to the Philippines to work with a street cleaner over there. The poverty in Manilla was utterly shocking.

Shocking, and yet, they were waiting in joyful hope…

oil painting of evening star by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
‘Evening Star’ – mixed media, 2013

But now, thanks to my faraway friend in Los Angeles, here’s something nice to change the mood – Christmas songs in Manx Gaelic.  My favourite one has to be: “Bee dty Host” performed by Caarjyn Cooidjagh. (presumably translated as:  ‘Bí i do thost’ or:  ‘Be silent’)  See the link just below:

http://www.culturevannin.im/audio_collection_459598.html

and more of my paintings can be seen at :

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/

and that documentary will be on RTE Player for a while at:

http://www.rte.ie/player/ie/show/toughest-place-to-be-30003990/

https://ancroiait.wordpress.com/2016/12/06/612-nollick-ghennal-%E2%99%AB/

Nollick Ghennal, Bannaght lhiat, eoin

 

 

Art musings

Cheating? – or simply being creative

oil painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Pearse's cottage in Ros Muc, Connemara
Ros Muc – it’s not really cheating, it captures the mood…

So I was caught cheating! Or so I’m told – but I beg to differ. Let me explain. Last week, I put up an image of Pearse’s Cottage in Ros Muc, a painting that I did over 20 years ago.  But strangely enough, the painting that you saw never really existed. (you can see the image here)

And this one above – that one never existed either. But do you like it? I remember a scene just like that in January this year. I was staying in Ros Muc on an artist’s residency and it was a cold, frosty morning. As the mist gradually lifted, I could just make out the cottage across the lake, such a peaceful, homely scene.

So here I was, at my computer, searching for an image that would tell my story. I suppose you heard about Photoshop? Well, down below is the original painting but I thought that I could improve it. (you probably know that artists are never really happy with their work, they think that it could always be improved). So now, which version do you prefer?

oil painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Pearse's Cottage in Ros Muc, Co. Galway
Teach an Phiarsaigh, Ros Muc,   C.1996

And anyway, what could be wrong with using computers to make art? Isn’t it just another tool, like a pencil or a paintbrush? I wasn’t happy with the way I’d painted the water in the original. That’s why the original had to be changed. And it was quite exciting to work on it afresh. I might even paint a new version, a misty one, now that I see the result.

But the thing is – you’ll never see the original, hanging on the wall. You won’t be able to see the mark of the artist’s hand. That’s the difference really, between a painting and a photograph. But I like taking photographs too. It’s not a case of one or the other. See the photograph below – this is one I took back in January, with two swanny-swans gliding across the lake…

photograph by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Pearse's Cottage, Ros Muc, Connemara
Photo of Pearse’s Cottage, Ros Muc, taken in January this year

So let me know what you think. And which of the three images do you prefer?

http://www.eoinmaclochlainn.com/

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/

 

Art musings, Exhibitions

Whittling Sticks and some chips on the side

carved walking sticks by Seanie Barron in the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin
A badger, a deer and I don’t know – a goat?  Walking Sticks by Seanie Barron

Chips. Well, I don’t know but I’ve been told that some people have big chips on their shoulders about various aspects of the art world – about certain art practices, certain art institutions and certain art galleries.

Take the Douglas Hyde Gallery in Trinity College for instance. There are two separate spaces here, the large space which exhibits “significant” contemporary artists and the smaller Gallery 2 which generally shows outsider art, craft, textiles and ethnographic objects – you might say: works by people who never heard of the “significant” contemporary artists in the other gallery. I don’t know but I’m a bit uncomfortable with this policy, this unhappy juxtaposition of two different worlds but shur, that’s probably to do with certain chips that I have myself, weighing down on my unenlightened shoulders.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about Seanie Barron and his wonderful sticks, now showing in Gallery 2. They are walking sticks with all sorts of carved and whittled handles, one of his specialities is the “Tickler” stick, which has a hook on the shaft to hold down electric fencing. (if you were a farmer, you’d know what I’m talking about). Manchán Magan had a lovely interview with him in the Irish Times recently…

“I’ve been at it for as long as I can remember, making sticks and selling them down the town,” says Barron. “You’d always get the old price of a pint. ’Tis very handy when things would be slack. I worked as a farm labourer when I was a gasún, and often a fellow would say, ‘Is there any ash sticks up above in those fields?’, and I just got into the habit then of making them…”

exhibition of carved walking sticks by Seanie Barron in the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin
Gallery 2, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin

So it’s well worth a visit to the Douglas Hyde Gallery at the moment. As you see in the photos above, it’s just a long line of walking sticks, leaning against the wall but have a good look at them, they’ll surely give you a lift. And have a read of that article/interview too at:

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/you-ll-find-everything-in-a-stick-character-above-all-1.2382593

Your comments are always welcome.  Click on the little brown speech bubble up at the top right of this post and put your comment there. Slán go fóill, eoin

http://emacl.com/

http://www.douglashydegallery.com/

 

Art musings, Exhibitions

Conversations around the Tinteáin

oil painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Oh dear, well yes, I’ve always said that I like those ‘Conversation with the artist’ events but there’s one on this week with a difference – the artist is me. It’ll be a conversation between the artist/curator Claire Halpin and myself and it’ll be happening this Thursday at 6.30pm at the Olivier Cornet Gallery at 3 Great Denmark Street, next door to Belvedere College. Now Claire is well established as an expert in her field and she’s familiar with my work at this stage – so what’s the problem, you ask… Ah, it’s just me, and public speaking.

Actually I’ve plenty to say when I get going, but you know, talking about art can be tricky. Everybody approaches it differently. I prefer the straight-talking version. You won’t be hearing too many quotes from obscure German philosophers, let’s say (although there could be some philosophers in the audience, of course).

No but what I do want to say, as we come to the end of this exhibition, is: Go raibh míle maith agaibh, and: Thank you all very much – for coming to the opening or for coming along in the following weeks. I really appreciate your interest and your support, it makes all the difference.

I also want to thank a couple of people for their wonderful reviews – Brian McAvera in the ‘Irish Arts Review’, Aidan Kelly Murphy in ‘Le Cool Dublin’, Kate Finnegan on ‘Imeall’ (TG4) and also, all of you who wrote comments in the visitors’ book.  Your comments are always welcome here too.  Click on the little brown speech bubble up at the top right of this post and you can put your comment there. Thanks again, eoin

http://www.irishartsreview.com/

http://dublin.lecool.com/event/diaspora/

http://imeall.ie/   and here’s a link to TG4 Player for the next 30 days –

http://www.tg4.ie/ga/player/baile/?pid=4532366029001&title=Imeall&series=Imeall

There’ll be more information soon on my website at:

http://emacl.com/

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/

art, Art musings

Beware of the artist!

empty sky by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Too stressed to write this week. Well, almost. There’s a time in the lead-up to an exhibition when EVERYTHING has to be decided. Picking the right image for the invitation. Rewriting the artist’s statement. Choosing the title for the show. Thinking about the publicity. Who might open the show for me? Who will be coming to the opening? Will you? Will he? Will she? Oh me, oh my, I hope that little lady goes by…

Yes, it’s a bit crazy. And I just want to lock the door of the studio and keep everyone out. I’m still working. I still have half a dozen possibilities. With these last few paintings, this one (maybe) or that one – could be the masterpiece. It’s always the same – maybe this time, maybe this time…

So what’s my solution? Yes, lock the door! (I’m sorry)  Danger, keep out!  Beware of the artist!  “Diaspora” is the title of the exhibition.  I’ll tell you more later. For now, a couple of recent works, possibles for the show. You do know that your comments here are very much appreciated?

painting of sky by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

painting of sky by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/

http://www.belvederecollege.ie/

http://emacl.com/

 

 

art, Art musings

Where there’s art there’s Hope

art by Eoin Mac Lochlainn i Tbilisi, Georgia

Other people’s art blogs –  I came across a great one recently called “Art Calling”. Sarah Zoutewelle-Morris is an artist/writer working in Holland. She’s working on her second book on art and recently we were talking…

Do check out her blog yourself but I have included an extract from her writing here because I think that it’s quite relevant for art in these troubled times.

I happen to be wrestling just now with the part of my book in progress that is about ‘Art and Livelihood’. My heart was never wholly into selling my art as a life goal. I wanted a more collaborative, connected, kind of art. I wanted my art to do good, add value to life…the kind of art that carries a connection with life’s mysteries and large questions, the kind of art that can soothe souls and inspire people to either make art themselves or to make changes in their lives to let in more play, imagination, connection.

The danger in approaching art as commodity/product is that this aspect is too often lost in the fray to get the work seen and sold. An artist starting out with all her values intact can easily get overtaken by market values. But I want to make a case for the alternative to seeing art, like everything else in this society, as a transaction.

Seeing the world as it is now, seeing old systems collapsing and creativity needed for renewal in every part of life, I would ask, do we need more art products? Or do we need artists leading authentic lives, creating from their heart and soul to bring these much needed values into the world?

Yes, well that image above is a drawing I had in Artisterium V  in Tbilisi, Georgia a couple of years ago. It reads: “Where there’s art there’s Hope”.  I also had a version in English in a group show entitled “Future perfect” in the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery in Dublin.  It was part of a larger installation of drawings that I put together for a few different shows. (see below)  I was thinking about austerity, poverty and homelessness at the time and I thought that drawings in black marker on cardboard would be more effective than some fancy oilpaint on canvas, that this would tell the story just as well…  maybe even better?

samkura-3

drawings-on-cardboard

And in a way, aren’t artists also on the margins of society?  Does our government care at all about art or culture?  (deep breath)  no, I’m not going there – I just wanted to support what Sarah was writing about. “Art and Livelihood” – that’s a tricky one because making art is not about making money at all. That’s a whole different ball game.  I think that artists have an innate drive to make art and that’s all there is to it. They get an idea and they just… follow it, see where it leads them, hope for the best.  And once they’ve latched onto an idea, they’re “incorrigible”.  Well, that’s what I’m told anyway  🙂  But making art helps us. When it works, it just feels great. It gives us hope.  – And it’s good if it helps others too.

Now, if you like, you can see more of my work at:

http://emacl.com/      – and more of Sarah’s at:

https://artcalling.wordpress.com/