Ireland West : Hem of the Sea
My recent work comes from time last summer spent on the west coast of Ireland on the Dingle and Kerry peninsulas. The Great Famine haunts the landscape with absence: ruined cottages returning to gorse and bracken or morphing into new stone walls or garden paths. Emigration marks the land with unused fields climbing a mountain. They seem impossibly high to our eyes used to flat fertile land. Even the verge beside a highway would make a field in Ireland.
This land is the far edge of Europe where the next pub is Boston or New York as the Irish pubs declare. Drink now and drink deep! The sea slams into high cliffs, moulds sea caves and makes tidal races where the water boils in opposing currents. The sun dies into the sea, trailing light and spilling over the mud flats of low tide.
My paintings engage with the land, the light and the sea. They refer to the field lines: the small fields drawn by human lives against a rocky mountain. The fields erase in wind and growth. The light picks up hidden lines and the signs of human work on the land. I pick up a brush and paint the edges, field against field, land against sea and sky. I pick up a brush and aim for the light.
An Afternoon with Seals : Great Blasket Island
All day the seals wait for the zodiac whine, deep
|For thousands of years
women laid nets on the fine ochre sand,
men patched frail skin boats,
canoes that could carry a cow lashed tight,
a package bound, inert,
on wooden ribsboundaries curve
sea deep sky
and sky deep sea.
There were bonfires, dances,
New York, Boston, Philadelphia,
Men dreamed of clouds, and women dreamed of birds
The young go first, the old
The old women wander the beach and
Some hold the souls of the dead,
This the seals remember when the zodiac comes,
air and breath
trying to recall the Irish words