Eoin Mac Lochlainn’s new solo show “Is glas iad na Cnoic” at the Olivier Cornet Gallery takes the form of beguiling windows to worlds far away and out of reach …
How do you describe your own work?
I would say that I am primarily a painter although I have also made installations. I use watercolour rather than oil paint in order to have less of an impact on the environment. I have made both abstract and figurative work but I think that the most interesting work happens somewhere in between.
What has been the inspiration for the present exhibition?
I work in a studio at the back of my house in Harold’s Cross. I take a lot of photographs but mostly these paintings are images that come from memory. This particular body of work is about places I yearn for. During lockdown, I couldn’t go to see the sea or the mountains or visit the Atlantic coast. It’s also about noticing and celebrating the little things – like the song of the blackbird, the reappearance of primroses, the fresh growth in the garden.
The work has taken the form of windows, windows to worlds far away and out of reach. It was created incrementally, starting as daily sketches and small exercises in the studio, gradually coming together in larger compositions that were simultaneously figurative and abstract. The title of the exhibition is the Irish translation of the proverb: “the faraway hills are green”, but I shortened it to “the hills are green”. The proverb is ironic because the faraway hills are no greener than the ones near us. In other words, what we have is already enough.
Have you any favourite artworks in the present series?
It’s nearly always my most recent piece, which is “Leacht – Monument.” It started with the idea of yellow lichen on a standing stone. The second one is “Portach – Bogland”. I missed wandering over the heather in the Dublin mountains. I was also happy with how the yellow colours glowed in “Midsummer’s Night” and “Maidin – Morning”. It’s the joy of colour I’d like to portray but other ideas always come into the work as well. To borrow a quote from the late Tony O’Malley: ‘You work at it day after day and then suddenly, something happens, a revelation’. I did my college thesis on his art. I think I know what he meant now.
You are known for your artworks which dwell on the subjects of homelessness and the environment – is this exhibition an evolution on this theme?
It’s about the environment. Perhaps being confined during lockdown made us all grateful for little things – like the song of the blackbird – but for me, it also highlighted the precarious nature of the world we live in. I think it’s better to celebrate the wonders of the living planet rather than complain about the problems humans have caused. Better to light a candle than curse the darkness. But there’s no doubt that the climate crisis is the biggest challenge we’ve had to face for centuries.
You also run a successful art blog …
My painting practice has been an ongoing response to stories in the media, be it the climate crisis, homelessness or the Irish diaspora. My artblog – Scéalta Ealaíne – is about the life of the artist in Ireland. I’ve been writing it for the past ten years, with a new post coming out every Thursday. It is aimed at a general audience that is interested in art and culture. It discusses what inspires me including exhibitions I’ve seen, but I like to think of it as a casual chat between friends – and I always appreciate the feedback from my readers.
Need to Know: Eoin Mac Lochlainn’s solo show “Is glas iad na Cnoic” launches on Sunday April 18 – May 19 in the 3D virtual space of Olivier Cornet Gallery, 3 Great Denmark Street, Dublin 1; www.oliviercornetgallery.com.
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