Wednesday 13 December 2017

What Lies Beneath: Rathmines in the Snow by Kasper Zier

Rathmines in the Snow by Kasper Zier, The Open Window Gallery

Rathmines in the Snow by Kasper Zier
Rathmines in the Snow by Kasper Zier

Niall MacMonagle

Midnight, December 31. Church bells and clock towers ring out for New Year. Twenty Seventeen. Say it. A new sound, a new word, new dreams, new hopes. And we've lived to see and greet it. That's something.

The clock tower in Rathmines, designed by Belfast-born Sir Thomas Drew, has told the time since 1899.

No one who heard that clock tower ring in its first New Year in 1900 is alive today in Dublin 6. And there will come a time when those who heard the clock strike at this year's turning will hear them no more. Thousands will recognise this snowy scene at a glance. For many it will take them back to bedsits with an electric ring, a drippy shower and Bridie Gallagher, Brendan Bowyer, The Dixies and, later still, Joni Mitchell, the McGarrigles and Leonard Cohen providing students and civil servants, up from the country, with the soundtrack of their lives. They've moved on now but that clock tower stands still, keeps time. Tarry Flynn's mother is right: "Lord, but doesn't the years slip by in a hurry."

Kasper Zier from Aarhus in Denmark came to "an Ireland, as I imagined it", years ago and is still here.

From an artistic family - grandfather, father and brother paint - Zier, self-taught, was "brought up on art". Pencil and pastel to begin and then his preferred medium, watercolour - "tricky, unpredictable, transparent, every brush stroke counts". In Denmark, boat trips along the coast gave him his subject matter; later "I was mad into portraits"; in Ireland he focuses on urban scenes. Rathmines in the Snow remembers the snow of 2010 and was painted in an afternoon at a sitting. "I lose myself so much in the work, I lose track of time, so I set an alarm." It's a hushed scene: a few cars, some pedestrians and for once no buses thundering down Rathmines Road. "I wanted people to hear the silence." Red sandstone, red brick, the red tail-lights, the pinkish sky wrapped in snowflakes make for a beautiful composition. And being Danish, what does he think of the Hygge [say hoo-ga] craze? "In Denmark we say Hygge all year. It means 'Have a good time'. It's like 'craic' but without the alcohol!"

And in Crumlin, where he now lives, he's created his very own little Hygge hub.

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