CONNEXIONS: Sidewalks is an exhibition created by artist Paula Pohli about ‘Walking’, that is, walking the sidewalks of Dublin. The prints and paintings in CONNEXIONS were inspired by Dublin City. In particular, Paula connects places in Dublin to James Joyce’s books.
Paula Pohli, an artist, walks in Dublin. She is not a Flâneur. She walks as an artist walks: looks, observes, experiences. This exhibition is her personal visual record of graphic images of Dublin City. Both an artist and author, James Joyce was born in Dublin and both are and were great walkers. On her Dublin walks she connected the smells and the feel of the city to some of James Joyce’s literary works.
‘I was born in Dublin. I moved into the north inner city in Dublin about 2006. The energetic and visual impact of Dublin life and Liffey-life excited my imagination. I read ‘Ulysses’ to educate and enhance my visual experience of walking around Dublin City. I, as an artist discovered my very own Dublin and I created prints mostly of what city life presented to me on my walks.’
The artist enjoys walking and exploring the sidewalks of Dublin; walking from Grafton Street on the South side to The Dublin Spire on the North side is her focal point.
Born in Dublin Paula Pohli lives in rural Ireland. She travels extensively and her travels confirm to her that ‘her’ Dublin and James Joyce’s ‘Dublin’ are still active and ‘alive, alive O’. It is of course a New Dublin. Paula is a cyclist too. She biked it to Bull Island and Dublin Port. Paula has a tendency to look downwards and sideways down the sidewalks of Dublin. After rain the sidewalks of Dublin smell different. She looks at coal lids and covers. She looks down laneways: ‘Moland Place’ (linocut). The artist looks downwards into the Liffey: ‘Dublin, only’ is a painting that captures the seaweed curtains that drape the Liffey walls, but only at low tide. ‘Poddle into Liffey’ is a linocut of two rivers meeting one another: the Poddle and the Liffey. This a connection to Thomas Moore’s poem, ‘The Meeting of the Waters’ and Joyce referenced it in Ulysses.
In Ulysses, Joyce called Sparrows ‘hopping mice’. The sparrows in her Sparrows painting pestered Paula in Mayo for food. She connected them to Joyce. Paula smiled as she painted the sparrows in egg tempera. Joyce wrote: ‘Sparrows look like hopping mice’. Food features in Joyce’s books. Bloom’s breakfast is an olfactory reading experience for Paula Pohli.
Finally, the artist does look upwards. The Dublin Spire drew her artistic eye upwards to the Dublin sky: she created a linocut of the Spire, Dublin Apparition. This print won third prize in an International Print Biennial in the Centre for Contemporary Printmaking in Connecticut in the US. Her mini prints featured in over 30-40 International Mini Print Biennials in the US, UK, Bulgaria, Egypt, Germany, etc. She has had many solo shows in Dublin, in Ireland, as well as in Holland and Germany. Paula’s prints and paintings are in the National Gallery of Ireland, in Dublin.
Paula does not philosophise about Dublin. She makes prints and paintings of Dublin City for its own sake. However, the artist is deeply grateful to James Joyce for spending his lifetime writing about Dublin.
CONNEXIONS II in 2024, will be about country walks and rural wildlife.
CONNEXIONS, an exhibition primarily of Linocuts, some egg tempera and brush drawings on paper by Paula Pohli is at The James Joyce Centre, 35 North Great Georges Street, Dublin D01 WK44.
This exhibition continues into 2024 and can be viewed from Monday to Saturday between 10 am to 4pm.
Feature Image: Finn’s Hotel is where James Joyce met Nora
All images by Paula Pohli