Now that my art collection of Irish Writers is in progress, I have been contemplating the origins fuelling my personal desire to connect with literary figures and create paintings which reflect their life and work. What has influenced my preoccupation?
Undoubtedly, an interest in literature is rooted in sources from my formative years. Whilst school provides a basis for our literary education, I must also acknowledge external influences; drama classes, plays and holidays, which have cumulatively generated a profound and lasting effect. My mother studied chemistry but I am forever indebted to her expansive knowledge and interest in literature and culture. She provided me with an opportunity to explore these arts via enrolement in extracurricular classes. We also attended a range of plays. I became her buddy on these outings. When it came to holidays, at a young age I enjoyed splashing in pools and playing in parks. However, I also found myself taken to visit many alternative attractions with my mother. When in Galway aged ten I visited the house of Norah Barnacle, James Joyce’s wife and muse. The name Norah Barnacle intrigued me and actually led to a curiosity with James Joyce. This is ultimately all thanks to my mother.
However, it was only when I fast forward to university that this founding interest in Irish Writers becomes truly cemented. History of Art lectures based on Louis le Brocquy’s portraits of Irish Writers particularly soldered the connection between art and literature. An enduring literary flame was then ignited with the purchase of Ulysses on the centenary of Bloomsday 16th June 2004. Reading the book 100 years on from the actual event augmented it’s lasting legacy. This moment reverberated in my mind and Joyce was the first writer with whom I truly connected.
Representing the embodiment of James Joyce became my initial artistic pursuit. Following this I attended an epiphany meal in The James Joyce House and was invited to exhibit my artwork which, I was informed, did not exclusively have to be based on Joyce. With this in mind I began to explore the rich inheritance of Ireland’s literary legacy. Often, I reflect on how befitting it proved that the subject matter for my collection should come to light at an ‘Epiphany’ meal.
To read about personal connections to each of the Irish Writers refer to F.L.BRUNELL: LET’S DO ART AND CULTURE MENU PAGE (Moi et…Writers)