An open lecture by Yvonne Scott from Trinity College, Dublin.

Connemara Landscape by Paul Henry 1925

Is this a safe path to Ireland’s future and self-identity?  The road to cottages sheltered under the mountains that keep the imperial English away.  The cottages suggest that it is Ireland, and not Lake Te Anau in Fiordland.  Where is the pervailing wind?  Are the cottages sheltered or exposed?  Is the lake a provider or over-fished?  Who lives here?  From other examples by the artist his people are faceless Holly Hobby peasants.  They came here like drunken hobbits from nineteenth century french paintings.  The landscape is empty, with a promise that they are provisioned from nature.  Where have the people gone?  Have they suffered their own clearances, driven out by lairds who came across the Giant’s Causeway?

Get Here V by Oliver Comerford 2002

Are we there yet?  Speeding away or accelerating toward?  Into the landscape of Irish Noir surrounded by the dark sudden forests of introduced conifers (They call me Spruce!).  The rolling hills are replaced by the undulation of power-lines and telephone wires.  We don’t live in this landscape, we cut through it.

In between and beyond, the art keeps evolving.  Despite the claims there doesn’t seem to be a national art.  Instead there are nationals doing art, painting their own landscapes.  I looked at The Holy Well by William Orpen and thought it looked very Australian to me.  Another sequence called November Light, I didn’t think to note the artist, looked like Colin McCahon to me.  They were different times.  I left wondering whether international art is a cross-fertilisation of ideas or a parallel development where ideas interstice and we move on.

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