artists, Creative Writing

Stories on the wind

Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of Montbretia in Connemara

Crocosmia is the official name for that exuberant roadside flower that blooms all over the west of Ireland. (We call it Feileastram in Irish, or Montbretia).  It actually comes from southern and eastern Africa but it has adapted impressively to our misty shores and it now flourishes in the hedgerows adding a luxurious splash of orange colour to the verdant Irish countryside .

Crocosmia is also the name of a group of writers and poets who are seeking asylum here in Ireland.

Today I want to tell you about a collaborative art project between the artist Clodagh Emoe and the poets of Crocosmia. It all started in the garden of the Spirasi Centre – Spirasi is the intercultural NGO that works with refugees, asylum seekers and disadvantaged migrant groups in Ireland.

on the boardwalk, Dublin city centre
Audio work by Clodagh Emoe on the boardwalk, Dublin City Centre  (photo Clodagh Emoe)

A weekly gardening session led to the creation of a shared space of equality and a mutually supportive environment. Storytelling developed naturally in this environment and this led to a series of audio works that were subsequently transmitted on the river Liffey, the Lee, the Corrib and the Barrow.

The audio works were sited in specific places along the rivers, on bridges and boardwalks, ‘in-between’ places evoking the precarious situation of each of the writers. Voices in Croatian, French, Kinyarwanda, Luganada and Urdu could be heard on the wind, revealing the hidden narrative of the asylum seekers’ stories.

The Plurality of Existence in the Infinite Expanse of Space and Time

The project was also presented at Visual, the Centre for Contemporary Art in Carlow and then, just recently, a beautiful collection of poems was launched in the Pearse Street Library in Dublin. The poems are complemented by drawings which show the various contours of the countries wherein they are set, the empty linear forms perhaps echoing the experience of the asylum seeker “disconnected from their homeland.”

“I believe that art offers an alternate perspective”, writes Clodagh Emoe, “one that allows us to re-imagine our world. In re-imagining our world, we question the status quo, opening up the possibility of embracing difference.”

As I’ve written before – in these days of global conflict, mounting racism and intolerance, artists can lead the way in promoting diversity and showing concern for minorities.


art exhibitions, artists

“The Truth is rarely pure and never simple”

Miriam McConnon Common Ground
Miriam McConnon and some of the children of “Common Ground”

So rather than add to the hatred and bile that is boiling over around the internet these days, I’d like to tell you about a project that tries to bring people together.

This is “Common Ground”, a project initiated by Miriam McConnon, an Irish artist who lives in Cyprus. As you know, the two communities in Cyprus have been divided since a Turkish invasion of the island in 1974 (after a coup by the Greek military Junta) so the aim of the project was to bring Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot children closer together.

This project is one of the main events to celebrate the Cypriot city of Paphos becoming Cultural Capital of Europe in 2017.

A series of workshops took place in the town of Kerynia (Northern Cyprus) and the town of Paphos (Republic of Cyprus) from February to April 2016 in which the children created a public artwork using the Cypriot technique of cementography. During the workshops the children exchanged drawings, stones and earth from their towns. The artwork created in Paphos was created using the stones, earth and  drawings from the children of Kerynia and likewise, the artwork in Kerynia was created using the stones, earth and drawings from the children of Paphos.

Miriam hopes that there will be many more cross-community cultural events in the future that will help to break down the borders between the two communities, between people who have had little or no contact for over forty years.

Oil painting by Miriam McConnon
Miriam McConnon : “Domestic Landscape II”, oil on canvas, 70 x 80cm

I wanted to tell you about Miriam Mc Connon because she and I are going to have a two person show entitled “Silent Stories”, in the Belltable in Limerick in March.

In her current body of work, the simple china cup is featured extensively, multiples of cups expanding across the canvas, creating ‘landscapes’ that resemble walls or partitions. Walls can provide security but also can keep people out. The pattern of cups perhaps echoes the repetition of domestic chores and domestic routines. Does the intensity of this repetition make us feel secure or does it smother us, I wonder.

For me, the cups hold precious memories. I think they could be a symbol of home, with all its complicated highs and lows. But as Oscar Wilde once wrote: “The truth is rarely pure and never simple”


Abstract art, artists

Are you looking for ideas?

clay sculpture by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Well, you have to start somewhere. I started with a lump of clay, lovely mucky pliable stuff, and I created the shape you see above. In reality it was only the size of your fist. But I liked it so I photographed it.

And then I squashed it and made another shape, and then another…

That’s what I was doing for a while, to try to get some new ideas or to create something new. But what I was missing was colour, the joy of colour.  Clay is a wonderfully expressive material but… well it’s just grey, isn’t it.  So I added the colours into it with Photoshop. (Yes, I used Photoshop again – but no, I couldn’t say if it was a sculpture, a photograph or… a piece of fine art, even?)

Of course, it’s just a lump of clay again now, but actually, it started with the idea of hands covering a face.  And then I gave it a title:  ‘Brón’ (Sorrow).

I was reminded of those muddy endeavours recently when I came across the work of the American artist Stuart Shils.  He’s a great painter and printmaker but he also experiments with bits of paper stuck on a window, with shadows on the floor and indeed, with anything that catches his fancy.  Nach fánach an áit a bhfaighfeá gliomach! (meaning:  you can find real treasure in the strangest of places)


A 10t floor studio floor, 1.30am in the morning - an image by Stuart Shils
10th floor studio floor, 1.30am – image by Stuart Shils
Yesterday's Sun, Germantown Avenue - image by Stuart Shils
Yesterday’s sun, Germantown Avenue – image by Stuart Shils

And I think that’s the answer.  If it helps in the creative process, shur why not give it a go. How do you like his images above?  The first one is his studio floor, with the light streaming in and the second, a building site, perhaps. But they both look like abstract paintings to me. Loads more good ones on his website at:


artists, Nature

What happened to the Pigeons in this city?

pencil drawing by Eve Parnell
a pencil drawing by Eve Parnell from “A Postcard to Ireland”

There was pandemonium on the roof this morning. The pigeons in dispute again – over the best roosting spots, I suppose. Rí rá agus ruaille buaille. And they’re not the stately, plump Wood pigeons, nor the elegant Collar doves – they’re just your common or garden ‘street pigeon’, the type you see in their thousands in Piazza San Marco in Venice, for instance. I’m not sure how many we have on the roof but it sounds a bit like the Piazza up there.

Living in cities. That seems to be the problem. Living on top of one another. I don’t think it’s good for people – I wonder what the pigeons think. Most of the time I wouldn’t ask but last week I was at an art exhibition by Eve Parnell and it got me thinking. This exhibition is a collection of works from various previous exhibitions that she’s had – in Berlin, Rome and Turku (in Finland).  And one section looks at dead pigeons (!) Yes, a series of delicate pencil drawings of dead pigeons, presumably killed by coming into contact with us humans in our modern cities.

And here’s a quote for you from the catalogue, by Sister Wendy Beckett:      We live in a world that is profoundly beautiful, complex and subtle, but also frail and vulnerable. We see these things dimly but Eve Parnell sees with wonder, astonishment, gratitude and compassion… She draws us into her profound response. If we receive it, her vision can change us.

photo of pigeons by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
(I was only joking about the pandemonium, these pigeons are very polite, really)

Eve’s exhibition “A Postcard to Ireland” in the RDS Library, Ballsbridge is finishing this Friday, the 30th of October. Open daily, 10am to 5pm.   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.



artists, Exhibitions

Aaaaaarg! Do they always get your name wrong?


Are you one of those people whose name they simply can’t get right?  I am. – I was at an exhibition the other day and it happened again!  A woman was telling me how much she liked my work ( and I was delighted of course ) but gradually I began to realise that she wasn’t talking about my work at all.  She was talking about portraits, yes, large paintings, yes, black and white?  Hang on, I don’t think I’ve done any black and white ones…  And babies?  Ah, now I know – she wasn’t talking about me, she was talking about Cian McLoughlin.  Not only is my name not Cian –  it’s Eoin – but my surname is also not spelt like that, it is spelt:  Mac Lochlainn.

But I know Cian, and he’s a very nice painter – he’s just not me!   And he was also at that opening so, for once, we were able to clear things up.  Actually he told me that someone had just congratulated him for winning the Golden Fleece Award a couple of years ago ( he hadn’t – that was me!)   Anyway I thought I’d put up a photograph of the two of us, so people could see for themselves.   I’m the respectable (!) looking one on the left.   He’s the big hunk on the right.

Diaspora, oil painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

…and during the last year, I’ve been painting fireplaces – empty fireplaces in deserted homes. I’ll be having an exhibition of them in Dublin in September – in the Olivier Cornet Gallery at 3, Great Denmark Street (next door to Belvedere College).  This is a continuation of the body of work that I first exhibited on the Aran Islands in June.  (You can click here to see that show).

So that’s my story for today. Your comments are always welcome – let me know what you think here.  And you can see more of my work at:

art, artists

Ten really good artists

I have a folder on my desktop where I collect images that interest me – like a scrap book in the old days… Today I want to show you just ten of these images, I really like them all – see what you think.

painting by Stuart Shils
Stuart Shils

The first is by Stuart Shils, an American artist who uses monotypes. Have a look at his video on youtube, it’s really interesting how he works.

Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley
Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley

The next is a Scottish artist who died in 1963, Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley. She is most renowned for her paintings around Catterline, a small fishing village in Aberdeenshire.

Nuala Clarke
Nuala Clarke

Nuala Clarke is an Irish artist who works between Co. Mayo in Ireland and New York in the USA. Lovely paintings sort of half way between abstract and figurative.

Painting by Tom Climent
Tom Climent

Awe, what can I say about the paintings of Tom Climent – his use of colour is just divine.  Wouldn’t you agree?

Painting by Christopher Volpe
Christopher Volpe

Christopher Volpe graduated with a degree in Poetry before taking up painting professionally. He has a really interesting blog which talks about artists he likes.

Painting by Michael McSwiney
Michael McSwiney

Michael McSwiney is an artist from Cork who makes large impressive paintings. They really have to be seen in the flesh, I reckon but there’s plenty to see on his website at

Painting by Rebecca Crowell
Rebecca Crowell

Another artist whose work really must be seen to be truly appreciated, this the American artist Rebecca Crowell. She uses a special ‘cold wax’ painting technique and is a fellow of the Ballinglen foundation in Co. Mayo.

Lisa Pressman
Lisa Pressman

As you can see, all of the artists I like work in a semi-abstract way and their use of colour is very important in the work, none more so than Lisa Pressman, a lovely expressive painter.

Terry Green
Terry Green

The abstract painter Terry Greene also has a great blog called “Just Another Painter” which has daily quotes from all sorts of artists. It’s very interesting to read about how other artists think.

Painting by Hanneke van Ryswyk
Hanneke van Ryswyk

The Welsh artist, Hanneke van Ryswyk is represented by the Olivier Cornet Gallery. Her small delicate paintings are explorations of the effect of climate change on the earth.  See more of her work at

concrete art by Eimear Murphy
Eimear Murphy

Now, I know I said ‘Ten really good artists’ but I just had to include one more.  My number 11 is Eimear Murphy, a recent graduate from NCAD with a unique take on making art. This piece is entitled “Certain” and it’s made with poured concrete and wood!  I really liked her installation at the degree show this year.

So that’s all I have for you today. Which was your favourite?  Let me know what you think here.  And if you’re wondering, you can see my own work at:


art, artists

Politics and Icecream

Art installation made from used coffee cups

Art and politics, I’m not sure if it’s a good mix. I used to think so. I used to make art that explored issues that were current in the media. The Iraq war.  Refugees. Protests. Homelessness. Capitalism. I’d have to admit that it was neither popular nor profitable but now, at the Venice Biennale, it’s all about Capitalism, and War, and Poverty, and Protests. (Ah, Venezia… canal water lapping, Italian icecream, limone, fragole, mela verde… che bella città) … but back to the politics. According to the art critic Laura Cumming: “from rolling news footage to anti-capitalist slogans and the last work of an artist killed by sniper fire… Venice, this time round is nothing if not political”, but I’ve been wondering lately: is this what art is for?

For instance, this is from a lovely inspiring post from a friend of mine in the Netherlands. Quoting from the American author Barry Lopez, she writes:

that a writer(or artist) needs to delve down beyond the purely personal until he/she strikes something universal in human experience which will illuminate all our lives. Also… if an artist is working with rage or pain, he/she has a responsibility to transform it before it hits the page. We all know how bad life can be, we have the mass media to tell us about that. It is the artist alchemist’s task to harness that personal negativity and to transcend it, and to use it as raw material to craft images of hope.

Here’s the link to Sarah’s blog “Art Calling”

phots of costa rican playground

Next I want to bring to your attention a friend of mine from Olympia in the USA (you’d swear I was a world traveller but I’m definitely not). Bil Flemming is just returned home from a residency in San Ramon in Costa Rica. He’s a sculptor who uses recycled materials wherever he goes. I think it’s great what he’s done, brightening up the place for the kids of that neighbourhood. (See above, one of his community projects).

“Images of Hope” – now that’s a worthy enterprise but I’d imagine that sometimes, it’s a tall order for an artist. Sometimes we just want to complain, I suppose. Sometimes we just want to moan. But not you or me, of course.  Perhaps a nice Italian icecream might do the trick ?

Here’s a link to his Bil’s blog “Bil in Costa Rica”

PS The photo at the top is a sculpture of mine entitled: “Celtic Towers” from one of my more political exhibitions – here’s a link below.