When I first visited the National Gallery of Ireland in 2000 I was immediately captivated by the work of Paul Henry. For me art is very connected with history, and in the case of this artist, there was a personal and professional history that was of great interest to me. When Brian, Paul and I first started talking about Paul Henry, we felt that more could be learned about him outside of the gallery and books, in the landscape that he painted. So we set out to follow in his footsteps making out first trip to Achill in 2013 and returning again in 2014, and as it was my first time there it was a great personal discovery. It is a beautiful natural landscape so I could see why Henry found it hard to leave. I was also very interested to see how much of the architecture was left. Buildings from his time are quite rare now, especially the cottages that feature in so many of his paintings. On the way back from our last trip I also had my first glimpses of Connemara via Killary Harbour and I look forward to returning very soon.
For me this project provides a different kind of opportunity to learn from a Master like Paul Henry, by visiting new places and having direct experience of the landscape and conditions that he was responding too. It provides a new perspective when looking at his work. It is a very interesting project and I am happy that I can share the experience with two friends. Our first exhibition together in July will be another learning experience but it will not be the end of our journey. We have so much more to learn about Paul Henry and his experience of the Irish landscape and country life.
Gentian, April 2015