ISLAND REQUIEM, tempera grassa (egg-oil tempera) on true gesso panel, 24" x 36".
© Fergus A Ryan, 2013
In 1953 the entire population of Great Blasket Island was moved, in their own perspective, 'out to Ireland', leaving the haunting sight of the abandoned houses of Europe's most westerly village. There are no roads on the steep hillside and the island is now home only to long-haired donkeys, sheep, and sea birds. This house, the highest in the village, looks longingly across Blasket Sound for its former owners, and the distinctive cross at the foot of Mount Eagle 5km away seems to suggest a requiem for a lost world sitting just off the most westerly point of the Irish mainland. The short distance seems almost infinite.
This painting has quite a strong abstract form, an architectonic harmony of shapes in the form a series of arrowheads—the house and shadow, the background landmass, the light sky-sea shape, the island cliff edge. In the midst of the calm scene the pointed shapes introduce a certain uneasiness or disturbance, a sense of loss. A calming hint of the island's continuing life is indicated by the suggestion of an animal track in the grass to the right of the house winding its way towards the edge of the hill and completing a visual line with the far headland.
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