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And the Memory of the House
The exhibition in the Hunt Museum of new works by Hughie O’Donoghue sees the elision of two of the artist’s most familiar preoccupations. Invited by the English poet, Simon Armitage to create a response to Armitage’s own translation of Virgil’s Georgics, O’Donoghue has returned to the territory of Northwest Co Mayo, the county of his mother’s people. Deploying photographic fragments, which are melded between layers of paint, paper and panel, a laminate of sorts, extant dwellings are cast back into the artist’s memory. This recollection is not only a reflection of his own childhood but, of course, represents the memory he has inherited, and the memory of the land itself. While Virgil was commissioned to write Georgics as propaganda promoting the signicance of farming, O’Donoghue has reconfigured the meaning to sit within a more recent Irish context, where land offered more struggle than glory for those living on it.
The second part of the exhibition titled, ‘Time, Tide’ revisits the sea and, especially, the wreck of the Plassy that lies on the small island of Inis Oirr, off the coast of Galway. This rusting, red hulk has been a constant in O’Donoghue’s life and appears in his work in different guises. This time, the artist has used tarpaulin to support his imagery, instead of canvas or timber panel. Here, the illusion of the ship, perhaps a phantom ship or just a memory of a time and tide slips across an unusual surface for story telling. Tarpaulin, a material designed to protect against the elements has been repurposed to capture the artist’s unforgotten memories.
From the Time, Tide exhibition catalogue