O R I G I N A L, P A I N T I N G S B Y M E
'If we can Winter this one out,
we can Summer anywhere'
- Seamus Heaney
W I N T E R I N G O U T , B A R N S O F C O U N T Y D O W N , 2 0 2 0
W A T E R C O L O U R S E R I E S
Nestled in the rolling Drumlins of County Down, you can spot the arched, pot-bellied barns where livestock are kept to 'Winter Out' the colder months.
Much of this time is a forced hibernation while the grass is rejuvenated outside.
Wintering Out also shares the name with the collection of poetry by Seamus Heaney. A book published in 1972, the harshest time in Northern Ireland's recent history, seen as a giant step towardsthe poets maturity, facing difficult themes in his writing. While reflecting on the harshness of the times, he is quoted saying "If we can winter this one out, we can summer anywhere" in a BBC interview.
This series of paintings was created during some of the bleakest months of the covid lockdown in 2020. It was also the most difficult months in my life, caring for my ill mother in her final months back in Northern Ireland. During this time I transitioned into my mother's routine while she transitioned to a new one spending most her day in bed.
On top of new caring responsibilities, each morning and evening, I walked her Labrador Jess. We rambled the lanes and surrounding fields of our family home, often along the same repeated trails. Under the covid restrictions, like so many of us, I felt trapped on an island. Everything in life felt limited. Gradually I learned a new appreciation for the sights I used to take for granted as a child and developed a new hobby, Barn spotting.
While before I would have dismissed these barns as solely man-made utilitarian eyesores that collide with the natural landscape, I discovered a beauty in their various forms, which I now recognize is unlimited. No two barns are the same. The more I got to know these buildings, I could see them more and more as Modernist, Brutalist architecture. Their arched design is also unique to Ireland.
The industrial concrete, steel and stained wood structures, often in tones of blues, silvers, and greens remind me of beached whales or the story of moby-dick.
Today I find myself trailing through google maps or google earth, through the country roads of home discovering new Barns. When I meet someone from a new country, I make sure to ask them what their barns look like.
Each painting is named after a local village in close proximity to my childhood home in County Down.
I plan to develop a collection of Jewellery to continue this theme.