Friday, 12 August 2011


Cork Street Open Art Exhibition

This is a painting of something unremarkable, the like of which we have all seen thousands of times. As far as I know the hedge doesn’t belong to some grand estate, it’s not a rare species, it’s not sculptured or manicured, no celebrity is painted beside or under or in it. There is no narrative to speculate upon. It’s not there to be decorative, it’s probably a working hedge, a useful hedge, which keeps some things in and others out. It’s just a hedge.

But what a hedge! The picture is, in the words of one of the judges of the exhibition  ‘sublimely beautiful’.

The hedge gently encloses us and at the same time presents a barrier - there’s no way through. Yet it allows us to look up and out far into the distance, even to the heavens. The fields and hills and sky are drained of the vibrancy and colour they’ll wear in the summer, but the hedge is painted in nuanced colours which entice you into the picture, exploring depth and darkness.  It may be nothing more than bundles of bare sticks, yet it’s almost as soft and crafted as a nest.

It was selected to be among the 200+ works of art chosen by a panel of four judges to show at the Cork Street Open Exhibition. This is an annual event to showcase work of emerging and established artists, and to raise funds for a charity. This year PAPYRUS, a charity dedicated to prevent young suicides, will be the beneficiary.  

The trouble with this kind of painting is that it’s hard to find words which do not get in the way.  Poets do it better. Baudelaire said

Nature is a temple in which living pillars
Sometimes give voice to confused words;
Man passes there through forests of symbols
Which look at him with understanding eyes.

For the rest of us it’s probably the moment to be silent and still and stay with what we see.


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