"St Agnes Eve - ah, bitter chill it was."

My first day in Dublin was packed with visits to the National Library, National Museum, Writer's Museum, and Hugh Lane Gallery.

   Dublin is known for it's brightly painted doors and this one is no exception.

 

Dublin is known for it's brightly painted doors and this one is no exception.

Once I crossed the threshold of Hugh Lane Gallery, it took all of about three minutes before something caught my eye.  Drawing me in (like a moth to a flame) and holding me captive.

   "The Eve of St Agnes" by Harry Clarke.  As mentioned in a previous post (Irish Book Haul), photos simply cannot do it justice.  Learn more about it here :  http://www.hughlane.ie/eve-of-st-agnes-by-harry-clarke2

 

"The Eve of St Agnes" by Harry Clarke.  As mentioned in a previous post (Irish Book Haul), photos simply cannot do it justice.  Learn more about it here :  http://www.hughlane.ie/eve-of-st-agnes-by-harry-clarke2

I was not familiar with the poem by John Keats prior to this, however I am very much inspired to seek it out.  I purchased the book by Jessica O'Donnell (which as I understand it is meant for children) because I wanted to refer to the images and learn more about this piece.  The poem itself is quite long and Mr Clarke only illustrated bits and pieces of it.  I stood there for quite a while, examining each of the panels closely and marvelling at the intricate detail, down to the tiny script present in almost every one.

   "The Sleeping Princess" - part of the Briar Rose series by Burne-Jones.

 

"The Sleeping Princess" - part of the Briar Rose series by Burne-Jones.

I was walking from room to room and as I turned the corner, my eyes were met with this painting.  Reminiscent of John William Waterhouse (whose work I am rather fond of), it took my breath away.  I approached it slowly, as though afraid that if I were to move too quickly my eagerness to be near it would somehow damage it.  I sat on a bench, facing it and took it in.  At just over 4 feet high and 7 feet across, it's quite impressive to say the least.  I felt somewhat uncomfortable taking photos of the artwork, but with regard to this painting I just couldn't help myself.

What I encountered next garnered quite a strong reaction.  I was uncomfortable at first, but allowed myself to sit with that discomfort long enough to become intrigued.

   Frances Bacon's studio has been meticulously recreated.  

 

Frances Bacon's studio has been meticulously recreated.  

Frances Bacon was born in Dublin on Oct 28, 1909.  He was a rather eccentric man, claiming that he simply could not work in a tidy studio.  Now, while I am not able to work in a sterile environment by any means, this is pushing it a bit too far for my comfort.  Having said that, I am always interested in that glimpse behind the proverbial curtain, that peek inside the creative mind.  I want to know what makes other artists tick.

Prior to removing the studio and it's entire contents, the Hugh Lane team employed archaeologists to meticulously document not only each item but its placement in the room.  This was done in order to relocate and replicate it in the gallery.  So you are seeing it exactly as he left it.  570 books, 1500 photos, 100 slashed canvasses, 1300 pages torn from books, 2000 artist materials, and 70 drawings.  Other items include magazines, newspapers, and vinyl records.  

You can read more about it here:  http://www.hughlane.ie/history-of-studio-relocation

I find the entire process extremely interesting and have to say quite impressive.  Standing there, looking into what seems like utter chaos and knowing that he somehow made sense of it.  

The Hugh Lane Gallery is filled with inspiring work.  These are but three small parts that spoke to me.  It was interesting to chat with other Pilgrims and learn what drew them in.  Was it the familiar or did they discover something new?

Irish Book Haul !

I wouldn't be much of a writer if I didn't bring home a book or two from my Bardic Journey, would I?

I was completely captivated with "The Eve of St Agnes", a breathtaking stained glass masterpiece on display at Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin.  Created by Irish artist, Harry Clarke, it was inspired by the John Keats poem of the same name and commissioned by Mr Harold Jacob for his father's home.  

I stood before the display for some time and (because the photos I took didn't nearly do it justice) was delighted to find this book in their gift shop.  You can learn more about it here :
http://www.hughlane.ie/eve-of-st-agnes-by-harry-clarke2

I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon shopping in Sligo and absolutely loved it there!  I was told to be on the lookout for this book, so naturally I scooped up a copy as soon as I saw it.  

I also found this!  If you take the time to chat with any of the residents of Sligo, they will tell you about the myths and legends centered around the area.  The Goddess is very much alive there and is kept alive, thanks to those who share these stories!  

I bought both books from Libre, a fabulous shop!  http://liber.ie/

Last, but most certainly not least...

I had the pleasure of meeting Lora O'Brien, who guided us on a tour of Rathcroghan.  We started at Rathcroghan Mound, where Medb, Queen of Connacht is said to have lived.  Then we ventured to The Morrigan's Cave (a journey not for the faint of heart I can assure you).  Both of which I will tell you more about another time.  For now, I will say that Lora is an excellent resource not only regarding the land, but the mythology associated with it.  I hope to one day buy her a pint so that we can chat about it in greater detail.  I am certain she has many great stories to tell!

I purchased my copy from Lora directly, but you can find her books (as well as her blog) on her website.  http://www.loraobrien.com/

I very much look forward to diving into these and will certainly write up a review for each once I've had a chance to do so.  Meanwhile, stay tuned for more posts and pics from my Bardic Journey to Ireland!