Leaving Little Trace, But Whispers…


Response to a Request 1 was an online publication I started in July 2016, and which came to an end, for the most part, in June 2017. Over the course of its brief run, I somehow managed to convince the following people to write for it: Kathy Tynan, Kevin Breathnach, Niamh McCooey, Nathan O’Donnell, Lizzie Lloyd, Adrian Duncan, Joanna Walsh, Ian Maleney, Susan Connolly, Jonathan Mayhew, Darragh McCausland, Emma Dwyer, Sam Keogh, Sue Rainsford, Michael Naghten Shanks, Suzanne Walsh, Ingrid Lyons, Sabina McMahon, Eimear Walshe, Dennis McNulty, Fergus Feehily and Niamh O’Malley. However, as I prepared for the belated closing event that took place on the 2 of February at the Douglas Hyde Gallery – presenting three final responses from the artist Isabel Nolan, writer Mike McCormack and poet Stephen Sexton – I was faced with the task of articulating why I started Response to a Request at all. What, exactly, was its aim?

I’m not sure there really was any distinct aim with the project, but let’s assume that Response to a Request was set up to address a modest need or even a perceived lack within Irish art writing. Was it successful in this aim? One way of traditionally gauging success is, of course, through a growing or at least stable readership; and, more typically now, through a sustained and visible currency on social media. But the problem is that Response to a Request vanished just as quickly as it appeared. The website is dead and the texts are not available to read anymore. Granted, I knew this would be the case when I first conceived the idea, but this material dearth makes its assessment – as success, or indeed failure – much less clear-cut. On a personal level, there’s also something distinctly self-sabotaging about editing a publication that leaves little trace but whispers. Continue reading “Leaving Little Trace, But Whispers…”

Landscape and the Built Environment


The 1920s and 30s saw an extraordinary increase in the popularity and production of landscape paintings in Ireland. Paul Henry and Jack B. Yeats, who are currently being exhibited side by side in Limerick’s Hunt Museum, were two of the major protagonists of that era. In contrast, European painting at that time was in the throes of Modernism, producing aesthetic innovation after innovation, which was largely self-analytical and retreating into its own flatness. Such concerns seemed secondary for many Irish artists, which would suggest that motivations were being shaped by different factors. These artists did engage in self-reflexive processes, but did so with the aim of exploring identity politics, with landscape painting becoming an important vehicle. The case is usually made that the prevailing subjects and sensibilities in Irish painting emerged as a result of post-independence Ireland’s distrust of Modernism, as well as the conservative social values asserted by the church and state. However, the precedence placed on landscape as a subject can also be perceived as the result of the newly-formed, post-colonial position of Irish artists. In this way, painting the landscape can be understood as an act of repossession, a reclaiming of territory and culture.

Continue reading “Landscape and the Built Environment”