art, Exhibitions

Occasions for Reverie

detail from one of Maeve McCarthy's large charcoal drawings in "The Return"
detail from one of Maeve McCarthy’s large charcoal drawings at the RHA gallery, Dublin

There’s an ancient old farmhouse nestling in the rolling pastures of South Kilkenny. It is lying vacant now, and slowly crumbling, but once upon a time, it was a comfortable family home. Then it was joined in the seventies by a modern bungalow and again, more recently, by a two-storey red-bricked mansion. That’s how these ancient old farmhouses get forgotten, I suppose, but I like to visit them when I can, to try to soak up the atmosphere.

Why am I writing this today?  Hydrangeas. There’s an ancient old Hydrangea bush growing in the front garden of the old house. It’s a bit unkempt and sprawling now but it blooms valiantly every summer even though no one pays it any heed. And I went to an exhibition recently in the RHA, an exhibition by Maeve McCarthy entitled: “The Return” and this exhibition really struck a chord with me… Beautiful charcoal drawings of Hydrangeas, they spoke powerfully to me of the notion of ‘Home’.

In this exhibition, McCarthy was remembering childhood visits to her grandmother’s farm near Newry in Co. Down. “I remember the beautiful orchard and garden with Hydrangeas out front”, she writes, “and views towards the Mourne and Cooley mountains…” She visited the farm again in early 2015, a visit that triggered many memories for her, and she decided with her brother Peter to make a short film. You can see this beautifully shot film at the exhibition too.

It reminded me of the first old house I visited when I was up in Donegal a couple of years ago (see below).  It started me off on a whole new series of paintings. (More about that at the link below the photo).

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of a cottage in Donegal

But I like the idea of an artwork as ‘an occasion for reverie’. I like how a drawing or a painting can evoke such memories and arouse such emotions… I wonder what is it about Hydrangeas that creates this lovely mood?  Or maybe it’s different things for different people? Anyway, Maeve McCarthy’s solo exhibition continues until the 21st of February – if you’re in Dublin, make sure you pay a visit.

art, Exhibitions

Imago Mundi – paintings of the world

oil painting of old fireplace by Eoin Mac Lochlainn for Imago Mundi

Well, I was asked to be involved in Imago Mundi, curated in Ireland by Ciara Gibbons, and it really is an impressive project. It’s a contemporary art collection composed of thousands of artworks commissioned and collected by Luciano Benetton on his travels around the world.

It’s a big collection but all the paintings are tiny. Each artist was given a 12cm x 10cm canvas to work with, and all of these works will become part of the Imago Mundi collection which is published and exhibited internationally. Sean Kissane from the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) is writing the catalogue essay for the Irish collection.

As I said, these artworks travel the world, aiming to reach the widest possible audience. By the end of 2015, the venture had seen the involvement of 100 countries and over 20,000 artists. The main ambition is to build and pass on to future generations a visual map of human cultures, promoting the artists through catalogues, the web platform, and participation in international events and exhibitions, in collaboration with public and private organizations, including the Venice Biennale, the Museo Carlo Bilotti in Rome, the Belvedere Museum in Vienna and many other institutions… Ah shur, you name it, we’ll be there!

The little fireplace painting above (12cm x 10cm, oil on canvas) is my own contribution. Your comments are always welcome. Just click on the little brown speech bubble and you can put your comment there.

The project site is at:

More of my work at:



art, Exhibitions

Finders and Keepers – inside the secret store of the State Art Collection

Sixteen thousand artworks, that’s a lot of art!  But that’s roughly the number of works in the State Art Collection, under the care of the Office of Public Works (OPW) in Ireland. Now, can you imagine trying to choose your favourite pieces out of all that?  A challenge, I would say, but what a thrill!

photo of group of curators at Dún Laoghaire Lexicon
the curators pause for a quick photo

A friend of mine, artist and curator Claire Halpin has been working on just such a project for the last year. In partnership with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (dlr) and the OPW, she gathered together a group of older people to select and curate an exhibition of works from the collection to show in the dlr Lexicon Municipal Gallery from November through to January 2016.

The show was called “Finders and Keepers”. I was at the official opening last week and my, there was a great buzz! When you think of it, there was work by 41 different artists and there were 14 curators involved along with Claire. I’ll borrow a quote from the catalogue, by Declan O’Brien, one of the curators …

Being part of the project was a great learning experience, finding out how an exhibition is put together, visiting the OPW to view the works of art and making our selections, whittling down those chosen to eventually end up with this selection. When I first came to the project, I was wondering: “What am I doing here?” Soon it became clear that what we had in common was a love of art and, meeting with the group each week to discuss what we liked or didn’t like turned out to be great fun. A wonderful experience that I would not hesitate to do again.

Now that sounds like a good result to me. Fair play to all concerned!  But I just had to include the image below which was selected for the current show. It’s a Giclée print on Fabriano paper, one of the prints from The Palimpsest/ Rianú Project. It was the end result of a long collaborative process between myself and seven other artists. We each worked on the same pieces, each of us working in turn over the other artists’ work. This piece was started by Kate Murphy and eventually finished by – yours truly. The OPW bought the complete set of prints when we had the exhibition at the Pearse Museum last year. More about that project at:

"Mise agus Tusa/ Me and You" from the Palimpsest /Rianú Project
“Mise agus Tusa/ Me and You” from the Palimpsest /Rianú Project

But the OPW has purchased my work on various other occasions down through the years. They bought one of the paintings from my recent show “Diaspora” at the Olivier Cornet Gallery in Dublin. Their support for artists is really significant and, let me tell you,   it is very much appreciated.

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. Thanks again, eoin

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:

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


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   and here’s a link to TG4 Player for the next 30 days –

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

art, Exhibitions

Diaspora – where the idea began

photo by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of a cottage in Donegal

What would you expect to see inside this old overgrown cottage on the side of the road in Donegal? Would you just pass by or would you try and get in to have a look?  Well, I was passing this cottage every day a few years ago until eventually, my curiosity got the better of me.

It wasn’t that difficult to enter, despite the tangle of brambles and weeds, but the door was open so I walked in. Ooooh, but it was eerie. There was a hole in the roof which let in some light from above. But I got such a fright when I saw someone peering back at me in the gloom! Hang on, it was me! I was actually staring at a dusty, cobwebby old mirror. See below.

photo of ghost in a mirror in Donegal cottage


I was on an artist’s residency in Donegal and I had met with the Gaelic poet Cathal Ó Searcaigh the previous day. He read me a wonderful poem that he’d just written about how spirits haunt the land long after the people who had lived there were gone. The poem is called: “Na Bailte Bánaithe” and here’s a short extract, with my translation below.

Tá ochlán chaointe sa ghaoth 

a shéideann aniar ó Altán

is anseo tá damhán alla

ag fí aibíd an bháis

i bhfuinneog bhearnach an tseantí

inar chonaí mo chineál fadó.


There’s a loud wailing cry on the wind

that blows eastward from Altan

and a spider weaves a shroud

in the vacant window of the house

 where my people lived long ago.


So this was the inspiration for a new body of work and I have been painting empty fireplaces in abandoned homes on the west coast of Ireland since then. I was thinking about how central the fireplace was to the home, how people used to keep the fire going throughout the night and throughout the year, and how it really was the ‘hearth’ of the home. If people were moving home, they would take a lighting sod of turf with them from the old house to begin the fire in the new house, so as not to break the cycle. Seeing these abandoned fireplaces, each with its own distinctive personality, was quite distressing and I undertook the series of paintings as a sort of requiem for those who had gone, a commemoration of the diaspora.

fireplace painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Now, in a week’s time, these paintings will be presented in Olivier Cornet’s new gallery on Great Denmark Street in Dublin (beside Belvedere College). And the show is creating a bit of a buzz, I think. It is featured in the current edition of the Irish Arts Review!  – an article by Brian McAvera.

pages from the Irish arts Review

And don’t forget, your comments are always welcome.  Click on the little brown speech bubble up at the top right of this post and you can put your comment there.  Slán go fóill, eoin


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: