Gort Rua is a cycle of fifteen paintings that are situated in Erris, northwest Co. Mayo, the land of his mother’s family and a constant presence in the artist’s life. O’Donoghue’s practice is centred on memory. Often the memories that are inherited, stories handed down from generations now disappeared, are more vivid than his own. Thus the focus of each multi-layered work become the search for a time or a feeling for a place.
The artist writes:
"Rather than making topographical landscapes I wanted to make paintings that are about how memory and place in particular are held within the imagination so that the pictures are more about how the place would feel rather than just how it might look. I remembered Erris as a mysterious and magical place as a child and this is what I wanted to convey in the painting."
Taking the exhibition as a single experience, the viewer is transported into O’Donoghue’s imagined, remembered and recreated childhood in a part of Ireland known more for its suffering during the Famine and its consequential mass emigration. It is particularly heartening that Gort Rua is concerned with discovery rather than the wretched history of loss.