art, Cló, Exhibitions, Palimpsest/ Rianú

How you deal with the “Other” – it’s not easy

Palimpsest image by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Well, first I want to mention that The Palimpsest /Rianú Project will be exhibited at The Pearse Museum in St. Enda’s, Rathfarnham from next week. This is the project that we brought to Artisterium VI in Tbilisi, Georgia last year. Then it was shown at An Gailearaí in Gweedore but this final version, I think, will be the most interesting.

No, it wasn’t easy. The idea of the project was to explore how we deal with the ‘other’ in our lives – other people, other ethnic groups, other nations – so a collaborative project between artists seemed particularly relevant. Yes, it could’ve been a bit tricky – you know artists – obsessed, obscure, oblivious… preoccupied, precocious, presumptuous… I could go on – but actually I’d have to say that, after a long and complicated journey, it worked out really well in the end. I think we all gained a lot from encountering the varied working methods and creative processes of the other artists. Those involved were:  Brian Fay, Mary A.Fitzgerald, Ian Joyce, Colin Martin, Aoife McGarrigle, Kate Murphy and Nuala Ní Fhlathúin. The project was initiated by Cló and the Living Archive and it was organised by Claire Halpin and myself.

Cló and the Living Archive is an artist-led initiative developed by Ian Joyce and Oona Hyland in the Donegal Gaeltacht. We are also grateful for the support of An Gailearaí in Gweedore and Ealaín na Gaeltachta, and we were especially pleased to get the support of the Pearse Museum. It’s an apt location for our grande finale because of Patrick Pearse’s particular interest in bi-lingual education. Also, as some of you know, my own family’s history is linked to this building, I remember my Dad bringing me here as a child, but that’s another story…


Músaem na bPiarsach / The Pearse Museum*
Músaem na bPiarsach / The Pearse Museum*


Anyway, Simon Harris TD, Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW, will be opening this exhibition on Saturday, the 6th of September. I’ll be sending out invitations in the next few days. If you’re in Ireland, I hope you can make it. But wait, I didn’t tell you how to deal with the ‘other’ ones, did I?  Hmmmm, well you might have to look further than St.Enda’s for that – this is a blog about art – but I’m sure there will be some ‘gems of wisdom’, some Seoidíní Eolais, but then, I wouldn’t presume…

You can read about the other iterations of the project at:

and on other links:

PS: the image at the top is of one of the collaborative pieces. Eight artists had a hand in producing the final result!  The first artist produced an initial image and then emailed it on to the second artist who worked over it and emailed it on to the third artist and so on until everyone had contributed. Such fun…

*(original photo of museum from:


art, Cló, printmaking

Printers and Painters – is there a middle ground?

monotype by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

I did some work with Monotypes last year in Cló Ceardlann na ngCnoc and although I’m a painter (and painters and printmakers do not come from the same planet) I actually enjoyed the process and I was reasonably happy with my final results. That’s one of my prints above.

Now, I’m not sure what you think of printmaking but let me say that, for a start, everything comes out backwards! Then there’s acid baths and feathers and soft ground and hard ground and sugarlift and spit and… and… no but hang on: Monotype is different. With Monotype, one can remain relatively calm and produce some quite decent images without, as me sister-in-law might say: “doing your wee head in”. You see, Monotype is a direct and spontaneous form of printmaking, allowing freedom of mark-making and a painterly approach within the discipline of printmaking. To put it in another way – if you’re a painter, it’s quite possible that you might actually like this method of printing.

I did. Who says printers and painters can’t be friends!

And I see now that Anna Marie Savage and Sue Morris are running a short course in Monotype at Cló this July and I’m sure that it’ll be great fun. And there are plenty more courses there this summer too.

Check out

Cló, Exhibitions, Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, watercolour

See the Northern Lights in Co. Donegal this December

I’d like to draw your attention to a group exhibition that opens tomorrow evening at Cló in Mín a’ Leá, Co.Donegal. It includes the work of Ian Joyce, Oona Hyland, Nuala Ní Fhlathúin, Mary A Fitzgerald, Heidi Nguyen, Kordula Ludwig Schwan, Liz Doyle, Rebecca Strain, Anna Marie Savage … and myself.  The title of the show is Northern Lights/ Na Saighneáin.

watercolour painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Na Saighneáin – casadh an file Cathal Ó Searcaigh orm i mbliana, nuair a bhí mé ag caitheamh tréimhse cónaithe thuas i gCló Ceardlann na gCnoc i nGaeltacht Thír Chonaill agus thosnaigh muid ag caint faoi na Northern Lights. Na Saighneáin a thug sé orthú. Dúirt sé liom go bhfaca sé iad uair nó dhó os cionn Mhín a’ Leá ach gur annamh a thárlaíonn sé. Ní raibh siad le feiscint fhaid is a bhí mise ann, fairíor, mar ní raibh an aimsear ró-chineálta. An rud is annamh is iontach, ar ndóigh.

Ach bhí roinnt mhaith comhráití againn i rith na h-ama sin, fear an-spéisiúl é, agus bhí muid ag caint lá eile faoi dhán a bhí scríobhta aige dár teideal dó “Na Bailte Bánaithe”. Dán faoi na daoine a mhair sa cheantar tráth agus mar a mhaireann siad go fóill i gcuimhne na h-áite. Mar a deir sé:  iad ag tionól ar na seanfhóid i mbailte beaga bánaithe na mbunchnoc, i Mín na bPoll, i bProchlais, i Mín na gCapóg…

Agus thosnaigh mé ag lorg na seanbhailte seo, ag dreapadh isteach i seantithe tréighte, ag sceitseáil is ag smaoineamh, ag iarraidh sórt eicint teagmháil a dhéanamh leo b’fhéidir, leo siúd – i mbéal an uaignis. Agus thosnaigh mé sraith nua pictiúirí de thinteáin tréighthí, pictiúirí le dathanna uisce…

Beidh tuilleadh eolais faoi “Northern Lights/ Na Saighneáin” ag

To see more about my work, visit

Cló, Curating, Exhibitions, Palimpsest/ Rianú

Irish artists in Tbilisi, Georgia

view of Tbilisi, Georgia photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Claire Halpin and myself travelled over to Tbilisi recently on belhalf of Cló Ceardlann na gCnoc, to install an exhibition – The Palimpsest/ Rianú Project – the Irish representation at Artisterium, an international art event which takes place annually in the Georgian capital. I’ve written about this project before, see:

So we brought all the work over with us on the plane to Tbilisi. That was an adventure in itself. Luckily we had met with Turkish Airlines beforehand and they’d agreed to let us take it on board the plane.  It’s difficult to think of everything in advance but it is a good idea to bring as much as possible with you on this sort of excursion – hammers, nails, pinchers, pins, screwdrivers, awls, blades, clips, velcro and tape, plenty of tape.  As the boy scouts would say: Bígí ullamh!- and we thought we were. But then, who would have thought that we’d need a sweeping brush? And where would you find a sweeping brush in the city centre? We were installing the work in the Tbilisi History Museum, the main location of Artisterium but… well, let’s just say that it could have done with a make-over. This is the way with much of the city of Tbilisi. It has many beautiful old buildings from the 18th and 19th century but they are mostly in need of repair and renovation. Take the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts (ie: the Georgian National College of Art). There it is pictured below – hoardings, broken windows – from the outside, it looks like a building site

Tbilisi State Academy of Arts Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

but then here below is a photo that I took in the hallway inside! Chandeliers and beautiful plasterwork. Of course, it  wasn’t all like that, several of the rooms were dusty and crumbling – but it must’ve been a beautiful building once upon a time.

Tbilisi Ceiling Photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

However, our space in the Tbilisi State Museum was not so grand.  We arrived with our hammers and nails (and sweeping brush) and all around us, in the various rooms of the Museum, there were other artists working frenetically to complete their installations. The one electrician was going from room to room like a man, obsessed. We had 3 videos to install and only one socket that worked. But we got it all done in good time for the official opening on Friday night.

Now I won’t write a review of the whole arts festival. There was so much happening there but here’s a link to the full colour, 140 page catalogue. (We’re featured on pages 16-25)

There was a strong element of Film this year, with “Difference Screen”, a 3 day programme of short films and videos, running at the Georgian National Museum. The panel discussions with curators Bruce Allan and Ben Eastop, led by Gareth Evans, curator of film at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, were very interesting. There was about 30 films in all, which had been collected over several decades, reflecting on the changing political landscape in various countries. Dan Shipsides had an amazing piece which he had created by swinging his camera round and round above his head. Desert Rose by Cordelia Swann was a chilling account of atom bomb testing in the Nevada desert in the 1950s.

Finally, here’s a link to a short film (50 seconds long) of our space, made by Claire Halpin. Watch out for the artwork on the floor, a moving, collaborative piece that she made with Kate Murphy.  If you’re wondering about it, I’ll elaborate in my next post

also, a link to Claire’s blog:

Art musings, Cló, Curating, Exhibitions, Palimpsest/ Rianú

What artists get up to…

Palimpsest image by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

The image you see above was begun by Kate Murphy.  She created it by scanning her own face and rotating her head slowly as the scanning arm moved from left to right.  Next, Nuala Ní Fhlathúin rephotographed the image using an experimental method on a rainy day (!) in Galway. Colin Martin then drew an image of a green screen over it. Claire Halpin placed an antique mirror on the image and rescanned it and passed it on to Brian Fay. Brian responded to the notion of mirroring and decided to copy the image and invert it so that it was now ‘a mirror to itself’. It looked somewhat like a Rorschach test at this stage.

I’ll pause here to explain that Claire Halpin and myself are curating an art project on behalf of Cló Ceardlann na gCnoc, to represent Ireland at Artisterium VI in Tbilisi, Georgia this year. Artisterium is a major international art event with a 10 day programme of exhibitions, presentations and workshops in the Georgian capitol. The theme this year is about exploring how we deal with ‘the Other’ and so we decided to make it a collaborative project and have 8 artists working on each other’s artworks – and see how that worked out!

So when the next artist, Aoife McGarrigle, received the image she immediately thought of butterfies and insects. So she cut out the image in the shape of a dragonfly, using the mirrors as upper wings. And she also added a few ‘mutations’ to it because she was reading about Cornelia Hesse Honegger at the time – an artist who makes beautiful studies of insects that have developed various mutations because they live near nuclear power stations. But that’s another story. When Mary A. Fitzgerald received the image she decided to add two little cameo portraits to the hand mirrors on the wings of the dragonfly and so finally, the image of the dragonfly with added portraits and various mutations arrived in my inbox…

It was then up to me to respond to it, add something to it, change it in some way or… I was the final artist to work on this piece. I felt that the image had developed quite sinister connotations, perhaps influenced by the continuous stories we’ve been hearing of pending war in the Middle East, so I decided to try and turn it around and present a message of reconcilliation.  As the theme of Artisterium VI is about dealing with ‘the Other’, I decided to copy and invert the dragonfly so that now we had two of them on opposite sides but they were face to face and speaking to each other. I also added the new background, perhaps a scene of the aftermath of war.

So that’s an example of what we’ve been up to.  Each of the artists started one piece and passed it on. Each of them will finish one piece. The process is well underway at this stage.  It’s called The Palimpsest/ Rianú Project and it’s really exciting to see all the developments. Later on there’ll be a publication about it. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime there’s more general information at:  and here’s a couple more of the finished pieces…

Palimpsest Image by Brian Fay

Palimpsest image by Aoife McGarrigle

See a slide show of all the works passing through all the 8 stages.  It was put together by Claire Halpin. It’s brill !

art, Cló, Gaeltacht

Was the weather good in Ireland this year?

Everyone is saying: what a wonderful summer! If we had weather like this, we’d never have to go away for our holidays… but you know, I spent a month up in Donegal this summer and I’d have to say that the weather wasn’t that great. Damp. Misty. I’d look out the window each morning and I couldn’t see the mountains.

But I wasn’t up there for the weather. I spent a month working in Cló Ceardlann na gCnoc at the foot of Mount Errigal, and it was a wonderful experience. Cló is a fine art workshop that combines traditional forms of printmaking with contemporary visual media. It’s an artist-led initiative providing a platform for creative exchange between artists worldwide and the Gaeltacht or Irish-speaking community of Donegal, Ireland.

I was working with monotypes. It’s a method of printing that suits painters, I would say.  Trees were my inspiration, from the smallest saplings to the ancient bog oaks that studded the bogland all around Cló. That’s the other thing about Donegal – the bogs. The sense of quiet isolation, the pure mountain air, the heather, I’d go back there tomorrow if I could…

monotype by Eoin Mac Lochlainn monotype of bog oak by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

more about Cló residencies at

Cló, Exhibitions, News

Selected for the RUA Annual Exhibition



I was delighted to have been selected once again this year for the Royal Ulster Academy (RUA) Annual Exhibition.  It will be opening in October, in the Ulster Museum in Belfast.  If you’ve been wondering what’s happened to me and why I haven’t been posting on my blog – I’ve been away on an artist’s residency in Cló Ceardlann na gCnoc in Mín a’ Leá near Gortahork in the Donegal Gaeltacht. I hope everyone has been enjoying the summer.