I sometimes think that, when words fail, art can find expression for feelings that have no words.   And art is especially good for remembering those who have gone before...

I visited the studio of Lorcan Walshe recently. A few years ago he had an exhibition entitled “The Artefacts Project” in the National Museum of Ireland which was a re-examining of objects from the early medieval period - Christian treasures such as the Clonmacnoise Crozier, the Tully Lough Cross and St. Patrick’s bell. This was a really important exhibition, in my opinion, the first serious attempt by a contemporary artist to investigate and re- present elements of our indigenous visual culture and to explore how these fragments from the past could be made visible and relevant for today. (I’m afraid to say that ancient “Celtic” craftsmanship is generally scorned and dismissed by the contemporary Irish art world - a post-colonial inferiority complex, perhaps)  But Walshe intuitively understands its value and its significance. To quote Mark Patrick Hederman, Abbot of Glenstal Abbey, who writes in the exhibition catalogue:

From Newgrange onwards there emerges a visible acknowledgement of the numinous or the divine which is embedded in these remaining artefacts. Such an idea is now completely out of fashion in art. The function of a poet or an artist in former times was not to give a society explanations or directions, but rather a sense of the underlying power which fuels existence.

It was a great privilege for me to visit Lorcan and to see his work-in-progress and I was delighted that he agreed to take part in “HX Perspectives”, a group show that I was curating for the Harold’s Cross Community Festival. More about that at www.HaroldsCross.org and see Lorcan’s website at: www.LorcanWalshe.com

 

We were having this show in a cemetery. Maybe not a normal place for an art exhibition but cemeteries have so much atmosphere, so many associations, so many ghosts… and the work was quite haunting. The artists included were Joe Hanly, Kevin McSherry, Paul O’Hare, Cora O’Brien, Lorcan Walshe and myself – all from the Harold’s Cross district of Dublin.

And Mount Jerome Cemetery is quite special. Originally the Mount Jerome Estate, the mansion was built there in the early 1700s and it became a regular meeting place for the United Irishmen, a revolutionary organisation founded by Wolfe Tone. Tone was a prominent supporter of Catholic Emancipation and is regarded as the father of Irish republicanism. He organised the ill-fated rebellion of 1798. The lands became a cemetery in 1836. There are many graves of historical importance here including the Irish patriot Thomas Davis, artists Jack B. Yeats and AE Russell, the playwright John Millington Synge and the mathematician Sir William Rowan Hamilton.

 

Tinteán Tréigthe, 50 x 50cm, oil on canvas

So, I hope that our work added something to the august atmosphere of the graveyard. As for myself, I installed three of my Tinteán Tréigthe/ Empty Hearth series. Elegies, in a way, for those who have gone before us.

What do you think?  - Was it a strange place to exhibit our work?  Would you think that the art made a difference, there?   I’d love to hear your views ...

http://www.mountjerome.ie/

http://www.glenstal.org/

Top image:  Black Bell of St.Patrick II, 168 x 122cm, oil on canvas

Views: 406

Tags: History of Ireland, Visual Arts

Comment by Gerry Regan on May 15, 2015 at 8:42am

Eoin, I'd like to learn more about the work pictures, and about the logistics of the exhibition. Was the show outdoors then? And what kind of feedback did participants provide? Any chance we can get them to join us here and share their perspectives?

Comment by Donal J Murphy on May 15, 2015 at 11:36am

GREAT PLACE TO EXHIBIT ART----being an Artist myself it is Always nice to see a different approach to draw in the public to appreciate things such as this---a lot of art viewers do not correlate until they are involved---

Excellent presentation.

Comment by Eoin Mac Lochlainn on May 15, 2015 at 6:24pm

Thanks very much for your comments Gerry and Donal... There'a a little Victorian tea room in the centre of the graveyard and that's where we held the exhibition. It wasn't a very big one and, as it rains every second day in Ireland... no, we didn't have any work outdoors. The reaction we got?   - most people were surprised to find a tea room in the graveyard and they were very positive about the artworks in it.

Comment by Geraldine Callaghan on May 17, 2015 at 6:57pm
This must have been quite the experience. Love it.
Comment by Eoin Mac Lochlainn on May 18, 2015 at 2:06pm

Thanks for the comment,Geraldine.  Yes, it was nice to be involved, eoin

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