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Bogland - What Lies Beneath, by Patrick Collins


Bogland by Patrick Collins (1910-1994)

Bogland by Patrick Collins (1910-1994)

Bogland by Patrick Collins (1910-1994)

How do you mean you haven't an original work of art? You can't afford it? Well, find a child. Give them paints and paper. If you're stuck use newsprint - Camille Souter did.

Or a page from an old telephone directory like Charles Brady. Then, invite the young artist to make a house, a tree, an animal, a car. Frame it. There you go. Unique. And better than those bland "Made in China" mass-produced images that you see in budget hotel foyers.

But Pat and Antoinette Murphy are lucky enough to have collected work by talented, original artists. It's a remarkable collection of "modern art that we particularly admired and could afford during the fifty years of our marriage" and thirty-six works are now on view at Clifden Arts Festival, including works by Paul Henry, Andy Warhol, Henry Moore, Jolly Koh, Abigail O'Brien, Jack B Yeats, Carolyn Mulholland, Conor Walton, Roderick O'Connor.

This atmospheric Patrick Collins bogland painting is recognisably Irish, on first glance and on looking deeper. Collins was born in Dromore West, County Sligo and landscape, animals, small-holdings, figures, Travellers frequently preoccupy him. He worked in insurance to begin with, would spend as much as six months on one painting and didn't have his first solo exhibition until 1956 when he was in his forties. Collins's Ireland is rural Ireland, moody, rainy, empty, familiar. Rural Ireland minus bungalow blight.

This Bogland painting dates from 1970. Its blues and greys, its browns and greens and reds suggest water, peat, plants and reflected sky. The outline, a typical Collins feature, highlights the brighter section, creates a self-contained world, an image that manages to be abstract and representational.

Ireland, apart from Canada and Finland, contains more peatland than any other country and it takes 1,000 years for one metre of bog to form. A bog contains slow time, history.

Cutting turf has revealed butter, gold ornaments, chalices but there's no poetry in the manufactured functional briquette. A sod of turf is the real thing. See it, weigh it, touch it. This beautiful painting contains that same mysterious beauty. Bog beauty.


Sunday Independent