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“Diasporaat The Olivier Cornet Gallery, Dublin 2015

 

 

 

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To view a 5 minute clip of the exhibition on Imeall (TG4), click here

 

ARTIST’S STATEMENT
 
This new body of work is a reflection on Irish emigration in the 21st 
century. It is a series of paintings of abandoned fireplaces in derelict 
houses on the West coast of Ireland. It was inspired by a poem by Cathal 
Ó Searcaigh entitled: "Na Bailte Bánaithe", a poem about how spirits 
haunt the land, long after the people who lived there have gone. I spent 
some time in the Donegal Gaeltacht during the last few years, searching 
for and exploring the old homesteads that were mentioned in the poem. 
 
I was reminded of 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. 
 
But where had they gone or what had become of them? Had they perished 
or had they built a better life for themselves somewhere else? Whatever 
the case, this country is so much the poorer for their loss. The second 
series of paintings is of empty skies, symbolising for me the possibilities 
and promise of a new life. 

 

 

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