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Rising art helps paint a picture

Norman Teeling is painting beside the O'Connell Monument in Dublin when I speak with him.

The 71-year-old open air enthusiast works in his hometown, as well as Arles in France, Spain and California. But it was a visit to Gettysburg in Pennsylvania that inspired his ten-piece painting series on the Easter Rising.

"I had seen these wonderful paintings representing the American Civil War," he says. "I thought it looked very dramatic and wouldn't it be great to try it with the Irish rebellion."

He had four paintings on 1916 done when he was commissioned by An Post to do six more in 1996. "I only had six weeks. I did as much research as I could," he explains.

There was no photographic reference of what happened inside the GPO so the artist was led by research. The paintings, each 36in by 50in, were hanging for approximately ten years, according to Mr Teeling, before they were moved into storage. He finds it strange they "are too big for the walls now" but "seemed to be the right size". 

Following queries about the collection, owned by the GPO, he says: "I thought, why not do them again? The new variations are better paintings because I have been working on them for the past couple of years." They will be exhibited at the Oriel Gallery in Clare Street, Dublin next year.

Describing his style as "historical representational", Mr Teeling says the exhibition is his "interpretation" of what happened during the Rising, which "should be commemorated every year".

"I think the 1916 Rising is very hush-hush and it shouldn't be," he says. "We got our freedom through what these guys did. This was our Alamo where they all died for a cause but the cause itself was not a failure."

For details on Teeling's plein air Painting In Oils DVD, see normanteeling.com.

Alison Martin

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