Saturday 24 February 2018

Dad's art-felt journey is now mine

Ciara Ferguson

I HAVE a problem. I inherited it from my father, but I don't think it's genetic. You see, I can't stop buying paintings. During Dad's life he amassed a huge collection of contemporary Irish art, much of which was, like a secret extended family, in storage for many years.

After his death, I had the task of dispersing the paintings. I managed to save some, all my family did, and some went to IMMA, but the numbers were too great, and many of them had to go. It was an emotional, long drawn-out task -- it's almost over, but not quite -- and I am glad I was able to do it.

However, the result is this new affliction. It's a compulsion, an obsession. I was determined to avoid taking storage space for art again and yet, we need it for the interim ... The problem is I like big pictures and you need walls for them. It's not as if I'm not fully aware of the easy-come, easy-go transience of material possessions ... but then something makes my heart beat faster and I have unquiet dreams plotting how I'm going to get a particular work. There aren't enough birthdays, and I'd need all my Christmases together. My husband, Mr C, is a bit nervous about it all, but he indulges it because he knows it would a waste of time to do otherwise. So far.

I understand now that for Dad it wasn't the having of the thing, but the collecting of it, the ever-changing colourful journey as opposed to the destination. He also bought much of his collection in support of artists, whom he saw as heroes of our times.

We go through our whole lives amassing and discarding in a constant cycle. And in the end what is left? An empty store perhaps. And a new passion instilled. Dad would laugh.

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