IN THE FRAME
The Great Pyramids of Carlingford Lough
The Irelantis collages were made in that curiously optimistic and anxious decade of the ‘90s, and probably encapsulate that, though at the time I saw them as playfully but essentially visionary (but then who is able to diagnose his own art?). They’re ‘traditional paper collages’ made with a surgeon’s scalpel and glue, and sometimes a microscope, almost all based on John Hinde’s famously hyperbolic postcards, mixed with National Geographic and other wonders.
A few years previously, living in London, I’d heard on the radio a song called If We Only Had Old Ireland Over Here that had the line: ‘If only Sydney Harbour opened onto Galway Bay’ and having ‘come home’ to Dublin I originally started a series called ‘Ancient Monuments in Ireland’ but for amusement started importing the monuments from elsewhere. But the Irelantis word came up in wine-fuelled wordplay with my then partner Miriam Duffy and the name stuck and gave me the clear direction to work in.
‘The Great Pyramids of Carlingford Lough‘ is viewed from the flagstaff looking down on Carlingford Lough. At the head of the valley is of course my birthplace of Newry. I was aware, making the picture that there’s a kind of unity in the picture though it’s full of boundaries; the mountains (the Mournes ‘sweep down to the sea’ on the left and the Cooley mountains, home of Cú Chulainn and local giants, on the right) meets the shore meets the sea meets the horizon and the sky rises into the starry dome of black space. I was thinking too of the legal border between the North and South of Ireland that runs right down the middle of the picture; and was delighted to read years later that ‘Giza’ in Arabic means ‘the border’ (between Upper and Lower Egypt).
Sean Hillen has a new affordable edit of A4 prints starting with a selection of 10 Irelantis images, €30 from Jam Art in Temple Bar. He is also creating Christmas Greeting Cards at four for €20 and be attending a number of Christmas markets