Summer will come again. It will! It will!
Photos by my pedalpal Helen Lane.
Today I rode out into the countryside to a Tree of Life to photograph it before the buds grew into too many leaves, too thick to see the branches giving it shape. I’ll put the photographs aside to use as inspiration for a painting I’ll make in the winter.
You may ask why I don’t paint it on the spot. Simple. That field, on which the grass and small flowers look so smooth, is in fact incredibly rough under the grass, so there’s nowhere level to put up an easel, and that is if you don’t first turn or break an ankle just walking the half-mile or so up the length of the field. But that isn’t the worst. The tree stands on the edge of a valley, and the wind howls over that field; it’s uncomfortable and cold. And it is most definitely not an alla prima painting, so a studio job it is.
So many amazing vistas in Ireland, so little time to paint them.
West Cork: a Place Apart is a book that haunts me, and it isn’t about some far-off, distant place, it is about the place where I live.
Jo Kerrigan is a local West Cork girl who went away and made an international reputation, then returned to write for the Irish Examiner and the Evening Echo and make all our lives better. “Winding green lanes and chuckling streams, mysterious lake dwellings and secret valleys, drowned forests and misty mountains: this, surely, is the region JRR Tolkien had in mind when he created Middle Earth.”
That’s prose you want to lick, because it is so true. I live among all this beauty, look out on it from my front door, from my study window, and cycle in it daily — but Jo makes it new for me.
Richard Mills arrived in West Cork from France when he was sixteen, and became the Examiner’s distinguished photographer. He is an international prize winner in several disciplines for his photographs of the landscape, flaura, fauna and people of West Cork. If there is a scene of Ireland that haunts your memory, chances are it was planted there by a photograph Richard took. I shan’t stick my neck out and pretend to know what makes a photograph by Richard Mills better: he has a different way of seeing that grabs hold of you, and creates an image so poignant it won’t let go again. You look at a photograph by Richard of a landscape you know, you look up at the view, and it is a new scene, with a different light shining on it. It’s a form of artistic magic.
A book of lovingly selected photographs by Richard Mills is already an occasion for the cognoscenti, but enriched by Jo’s equally evocative prose, it becomes so enticing, you want to get close enough to wrap yourself around it. West Cork: a Place Apart is a book so luscious, it is good enough to eat.