6 October - 29th October
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This 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; 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 the fireplace was the ‘hearth’ of the home, how people used to keep the fire going throughout the night and throughout the year. 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. The second series of paintings is of empty skies, symbolising for me the possibilities of a new life.