Friday 14 December 2018

What lies beaneath - Winter Solstice by Kathy Gerhardt

Winter Solstice by Kathy Gerhardt
Winter Solstice by Kathy Gerhardt

Niall MacMonagle

Getting over the Christmas is one thing. Getting through the winter is another. But the really good news this morning is that today is the winter solstice. And Newgrange, older than the pyramids, is the place to be. No JCBs, no cranes, no hard-hats. How did they do it?

Today is artist Kathy Gerhardt's favourite day of the year. Based in New York, she keeps putting herself in the lottery, hoping to be picked, to watch that golden light creep along the passageway and light up the inner chamber.

Gerhardt first visited Ireland in 1988.

"I did a bus tour with my mother, didn't like our tour guide, bought guide books, read about Newgrange and knew I had to visit. The following year I went back. One foot on the grass, walking up to the mound, I knew I was home."

Gerhardt "did get to meditate inside Newgrange on the Fall Equinox [23 September] in 2001. I was to arrive a week before but 9/11 happened, but I was bound and determined to get on the next earliest flight. From the moment I entered the chamber I wanted to sit on the ground, my back against the cool stones and just be there."

Following those early trips she began drawing the symbols in pastel. In April 2002 she had an exhibition of her work in Brú na Bóinne Visitors' Centre. Is there an Irish family link?

"My father's side is German and Hungarian; my mother was adopted so there could be a connection."

Mystical can be a dodgy word but that's what Gerhardt's painting is: it honours the mysterious and the awe-inspiring. Using oil and black gesso.

"I paint the symbols on black to represent the light coming out of the darkness".

The huge sky, the brightly shining stars, the cradled moon, the creeping dawn and the astonishing monument remind us of man power, sun power, rebirth, promise. And tomorrow, watch out for that tiny, tiny stretch in the evening. Here comes the sun.

Sunday Independent

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