The Idea of Islands

by sarahartonsherkin

Donald Teskey RHA, Small hours, 2009

Donald Teskey RHA, Small hours, 2009, Charcoal on paper, 76 x 105 cm, Image courtesy of the artist and the Rubicon Gallery, Dublin.

I greatly admire the work of Donald Teskey who made a series of powerfully atmospheric drawings while in residence in Cill Rialaig some years ago, which together with a collection of poems by Sue Hubbard have been published in a book entitled The Idea of Islands. Responding to her experiences of Cill Rialaig, Sue Hubbard explores in her poems both the dark and the light within human experience. She evokes the perceived and the actual world through careful attention to the detail of things be it nature, the incidental or the everyday and attempts to give voice to our deepest emotions and our sense of inchoate spiritual longing. Her subjects are those of love, loss and memory. Donald Teskey’s large-scale drawings are no landscape idylls. His parallel body of work, complementary to the poems, vividly evoke a powerful sense of that remote and harshly beautiful place, confronting us with the raw forces of nature at the inhospitable edge of the world.

I am reminded of my time in this beautiful rural place and the hugely beneficial experience i had working at Cill Rialaig. I met many wonderful artists, some of whom introduced me to Sherkin Island, where i am fortunate to be living now, and exploring the world of Visual Arts.

Extract from Ballinskelligs by Sue Hubbard

They come to me in dreams
Scariff and Deenish, rising like those islands
floating in a veil of mist in Japanese prints,

their peaks in a halo of cloud.
Early morning the sun casts
rings of bright water, stepping stones of light

out to the distant shore. Midnight
and the islands are sleeping, turned in
on their own emptiness as if remembering

those ghostly lives gleaned on the barren cliffs
stinking of sea birds and herring,
the air thick with turf smoke and old rain.