Month: March, 2016




Katya Berger’s opening paragraph of a dialogue by post between herself and her father:

“As long as I can remember, I have been used to looking at paintings. Without any fuss, a monograph on Carvaggio or the catalogue of a Poussin exhibition was dumped on my knees, and I was left alone to turn the pages. By a flaring paraffin lamp – this was in a decrepit, out-of-the-way farmhouse in Provence where I spent the most luminous moments of my childhood – I started, as I looked at these books, to dream – a bit like one of those figures in a Chagall painting crossing the sky above the roofs of churches.”




This is a wonderful little book that discusses animals, Greece, fur, sexuality, and the strangeness of drawing. Insights about life, physical sensation and mortality are listened to with great attention.

“I invented a god who lived in the sky, surrounded by a committee who were timeless and who looked through a telescope to direct the story of my life!”

The old man Katya meets at the exhibition says, “one uses painting to clothe oneself, to keep warm… Jesus carries his cross and, me, I carry the art of painting, I wear it like something woollen”, and later adds, “you must surely see, velvet, you must see, velvet is my favourite material, and I can’t resist its touch.”



Of animals Katya says, “we can identify with them so deeply. They are just close enough and just far enough for it to be easy. They are the other, a little more the other than another person. And so they’re easier to understand; they demand imagination, aim, identification, whereas people demand intelligence, mental calculation, abstractions. And the meaner the human world becomes – the more people slip into egoism and the greed of despair – the more the animals align themselves with us, becoming brothers, closer than our human brothers. In fact, when this happens, even nature, even the inorganic, offers a shelter to our imaginations. Nature comes closer, just as those who are called the closest become more distant.”

Of intimacy: “To be intimate is to re-find in oneself that which is most hidden and private; intimacy can also imply a marvellous, narrow relationship between two people. To be intimate is a way of listening to one’s internal sense, of listening to one’s own dialogue between the said and the unsaid. The second jubilant intimacy, the one which is (occasionally) shared, implies two listenings, two dialogues which overlap and couple… such intimacy is the sine qua non for any INVITATION, whether it concerns art or bodies or (probably) souls. And without the first – intimacy with oneself – no other is possible… the late paintings of Titian are, I’m sure, the fruits of an individual intimacy. For him, whatever his disguise, for him, the man of power, the intimacy of feeding his art came from keeping in touch with his own truth.”

Of Greece: “The earth, the sea, and the sky have shared out their empire. Old men stroll in pyjamas along the filthy street. Every evening, from the balcony opposite mine, comes semi-oriental music for the whole neighbourhood! The same dust is everywhere. Everybody talks like a mother to a child. Tummy rumblings are something universal. People recognise one another, not in accordance with any particular respect due, but in accordance with the common reality of their human bodies.

“Each body is one body among others and equal with them. If someone comes forward, it is usually to represent the others – like the coryphaeus of an antique chorus. This lack of politeness and civility, which so shocks foreigners, comes directly from a notion of democracy first formulated in ancient Greece. Why bother with formal gestures and hypocritical compliments when everyone is familiar with the needs, the feelings, and the thoughts of everyone else? All are part of the same chain, and each is potentially in the skin of another. When people act selfishly, they do so allowing for the selfishness of others.

“Greeks start from the principle that they know themselves (not with their brains, like the French, but because they’ve lived). Armed with Socratic sayings, they extend their knowledge towards others. They go out to meet the outside because they’ve come to terms with what’s inside.

They have no need to make themselves pretty or to wrap things up: the polite bows, the fashionable clothes, all forms of dressing up here have been imported or artificially brought in by the Church or the powers that be. Otherwise, the Greeks’ awareness of their own collectivity encourages a unique minimalism, to be seen in their buildings, in their cooking (the butchers simply display dead flesh), and in their everyday philosophy. The very complexity of life is simple for them. Everything is in everything. Their vases communicate.”

And of Titian: ” Thus the timeless old man of the south was so faithful to his own instinct and senses that he brushed the world as if it belonged to him – as if it was his own beard.


Ecce Homo



John sends ‘Kut’ a postcard from the island of Telos, dated 327 BC. The poem is signed by Erinna, who died when she was nineteen.


john's poem


A Theatre In Space




Also at The Catherine Hammond Gallery were some works by Janet Mullarney whose  theatre-like approach to sculpture plays out intriguing references to the animal world.





Sculpture is more like drawing for her, a working out of ideas, and not so much what you see. She doesn’t know where her ideas are coming from and she doesn’t know where they’re going.

“As an artist you are always looking for something new; you want to surprise yourself.”

“That making – making sense of your life.”

“It is the space that defines the work.”




Susanna Ragionieri for ‘Around the House’










Urban Print:

A Kite Festival

Kite festival, Gujarat, India with Sarah Schwartz

Kite festival, Gujarat, India with Sarah Schwartz


I recently visited the newly situated Catherine Hammond Gallery in Skibbereen, where I came across the work of Helen O’Leary who writes that her work delves into her “own history as a painter, rooting in the ruins and failures of my own studio for both subject matter and raw material. I have disassembled the wooden structures of previous paintings—the stretchers, panels, and frames—and have cut them back to rudimentary hand-built slabs of wood, glued and patched together, their history of being stapled, splashed with bits of paint, and stapled again to linen clearly evident. The residual marks on the frames, coupled with their internal organization, begin to form a constellation of densities, implying an idiomatic syntax of organic fluctuation where compact spaces coexist with the appearance of gaping holes where the rickety bridges have given way. Formal and structural concerns become inseparable, the slippery organization of their fluctuating grids showing a transparency both literal and historical. With both serenity and abandon, these structures imagine the possibility that painting might take root and find a place to press forward into fertile new terrain.”







Helen O’Leary in conversation with Diana Copperwhite:

“There was an innocence and curiosity in the physical world of the world of the farm that I find again and again in the studio. It was a time with little use for sentimentality, where pragmatism and lyricism was hand in hand. I try to keep that alive in the studio and life.”

“I also think of the multiple ways of using or seeing an object, of re-doing something that already exists in another form in the language of painting. I gather up everything; nothing is ever wasted. I collect the ends of the sticks or paint, or jars, and they in turn become the next accumulated gesture.”



Self Portrait At A Sherkin/Mexican Hat Party

Self Portrait

Acrylic on paper, 50 x 60cm


House Of Colour


Cosmic Events


Gedi Sibony – 55 Years. Installation Photograph, April 2014, by Davey Moor


Painting In The Expanded Field with Sarah O’Brien opened the door to the intuitive work of artist Gedi Sibony,  whose installations create these wonderful poetic spaces that allow the imagination to run free. He exhibited in The Douglas Hyde Gallery in 2014 and told Rebecca O’Dwyer in an interview that his working practice relies on the many “succinct, intact messages” that the world provides.

Sky Of Possibility


Sky Of Possibility2



A recent workshop facilitated by Artist Sarah O’Brien at Uillinn has  introduced me to ‘Painting In The Expanded Field’ by Gustavo Fares, the ideas of which resonate with my art-making and have inspired in me new ways of working and thinking about space.

…”a highly disciplined process that incorporates chance and intuitive elements into its initial codes, a binary system of concept and emotion where one is both the initiator and recipient of the work.” Louise Neri

I enjoy a meditative process of working where I allow intuition to guide me, ideas to develop naturally in a spontaneous way, giving light to meaning and associations.

Like a journey of discovery, an awakening in the soul.


An Architectural Exploration With Words



An installation in space where architectural elements are explored and played with; words are looked at, remembered and rediscovered. We are reminded.

Paths are connected




I saw a river and its tributaries



Everything is inter-relatable


An Exploration In Outer Space

A Dialogue











Sky Of Possibility





Collaborations With Moss