Our first trip to Achill

Our first field trip to Achill Island was a short one but it turned out to be very worthwhile.  We covered quite a lot of ground, met some great people and got a good introduction to the landscape that Paul Henry painted prolifically over his ten year stay on the island.

We spent the first two nights at Keel Sandybanks Caravan & Camping Park. We arrived on the Friday evening (28/06/13), dined in style in the campervan and went for a night cap in The Annexe Inn, where the ‘smoking porch’ seemed to be the best place to catch a chat with a wise old local. On the Saturday morning the weather was damp and overcast so we spent our time exploring the village and the surrounding area.

Cloud on Slievemore
Cloud on Slievemore

The sun came out after lunch so there was some quick sketching done at base camp focusing on the dunes and the distant Minaun Cliffs. There were some impressive cloud formations above Slievemore. We set off on our bikes in the afternoon and made our way down to Gubelennaun where Paul Henry famously tore up his return ticket and chose to remain on Achill. Before returning to Keel we took a look at the infamous Achill Henge, where Gentian and Paul did some charcoal sketches on the concrete.  Later there was a quick stop at a fisherman’s house where we bought some ray fins that Gentian cooked beautifully that evening. We once again found ourselves in The Annexe Inn that night, this time for some live traditional music.  We chatted with some more locals and some enthusiastic foreigners who are working on the island.

The 30 seconds of sunshine we witnessed at Keem Strand
The 30 seconds of sunshine we witnessed at Keem Strand

On Sunday we packed up and explored more of the island on four wheels. Keem Strand was our first port of call followed by the deserted village on the southern slope of Slievemore. We then drove through Dugort, which Paul Henry thought was too touristy, and explored some of the bogland to the south in Tonatanvally townland. We finished the day by completing the Atlantic Drive, stopping off at Grainne’s Castle and numerous viewing points. The changeable weather created some stunning views out to sea and an abundance of crepuscular rays. We camped at The Valley House that evening and met some great people in the bar where Paul was roped into singing and playing guitar.  After breakfast the next morning Paul and Gentian did some sketching at Lough Nambrack. Before hitting the road for Cork we visited Madeleine Darcy, writer in residence at the Heinrich Boll Cottage, Dugort and sculptor Ronan Halpin in Keel. There were many more people we wanted to meet but we will have to wait until our next visit.

Turf stacks, Tonatanvally
Turf stacks, Tonatanvally

In future posts we will take a closer look at some of the locations we visited and their significance in relation to the life and work of Paul Henry. There will also be posts on the various components of the Achill landscape that were of particular interest to the team during our visit.

Brian Mac Domhnaill

Brian Mac Domhnaill, Antietam MD 2013
Brian Mac Domhnaill, Antietam MD 2013

Brian was born in Waterford City in 1975. He spent the first five years in Tramore but later grew up in Loughrea, County Galway and the suburbs of Cork City. He graduated from University College Cork in 1997 with a BA Degree in Archaeology and Celtic Civilisation and in 2002 completed a Masters of Science in Palaeoecology at Queens University Belfast. After his primary degree he spent 14 years working on archaeological projects in over 15 counties throughout Ireland. Although he spent much of the first 6 years working on archaeological excavations he later went on to specialise in surveying, historic building recording and project management.

In 2012 Brian embarked on a sabbatical from commercial archaeology to pursue a career in arts administration. Since then he has provided freelance arts administration services to local arts organisations such as Sirius Arts Centre, Backwater Artists Group, The Cork French Film Festival, The Lewis Glucksman Gallery and the Cork City Council Arts Office. He also fills the role of researcher, videographer and photographer for The Pallasboy Project.

Brian graduated from the MA in Art + Process at the Crawford College of Art & Design in 2014 with 1st class honours and was awarded the graduate residency at the MA studios in 2015. He is a member and studio holder with The Cork Artists Collective since 2016.  His studio practice combines archaeological, archival and artistic processes.

www.theworkingrecord.com

Paul Mc Kenna

Paul McKenna at Sample Studios in 2013.
Paul McKenna at Sample Studios in 2013.

Born in Cork in 1976 Paul went on to study Graphic Design in Central Saint Martins College, London majoring in Printmaking and Animation and after graduating spent a number of years printmaking in Cork Printmakers.

Paul has worked for C. Robersons & Co. London aiding in the manufacturing of artist painting materials. As a master canvas stretcher for their sister company Russell & Chappell he worked with artists in residence at the National Gallery, London such as Alison Watt and many international artists including M.F. Husain. In 2008 Paul worked for Cill Rialaig artist retreat and helped to set up Clo Cill Rialaig Print Studios editioning prints for many Irish artists including Charles Tyrell and Martin Finnin. Later in 2008 he travelled to Auckland, New Zealand and worked for the prestigious picture framers John Leech Framing.

Paul has exhibited in a number of group shows in London from 2004 to 2008, had his first solo show in 2008 in Ireland and another in New Zealand in 2010. Paul is currently located in Cork, painting from Sample Studios and running workshops in canvas preparation and stretching. Since returning to Ireland in 2012 he has had a solo show in L’Atitude 51 Wine Bar, Cork and currently has work hanging in the Fenn’s Quay and The Cornstore restaurants.

Since he graduated Paul has been following his passion for painting landscapes and cityscapes. He primarily works in acrylic paint but also experiments with mixed media. Although his paintings retain photographic qualities there is a conscious preference for a more painterly finish. There is often an abstract quality to the work and he likes to achieve a sense of familiarity without connecting to a specific place. His choice of subject is strongly influenced by his immediate surroundings.

Paul is currently working at Mayfield Art Centre.

http://paulmckennaart.blogspot.ie

7.20PM, Paul Mc Kenna 2007
7.20PM, Paul Mc Kenna 2007
Light under the oak tree, Paul Mc Kenna 2007
Light under the oak tree, Paul Mc Kenna 2007
Root to roof, Paul Mc Kenna 2011 New Zealand
Root to roof, Paul Mc Kenna 2011

Gentian Lulanaj

Gentian working in his studio in Ballymaloe, 2013
Gentian Lulanaj working in his studio in Ballymaloe, 2013

Born in Shkoder in 1972 Gentian grew up surrounded by the paintings of his uncle, one of the most celebrated artists in Albania, the great master Ismail Lulani. Inspired by the paintings, sketches, studies and books around him Gentian started drawing and painting when he was 10 years old. Later, he enrolled in the secondary School of Arts (Prenke Jakova) in his hometown and continued his studies in the Academies of Fine Arts in Tirana and Rome. The ten years he spent in Rome after his studies were thoroughly dedicated to the art of painting and to the intensive study of masterpieces from the Renaissance old masters. In addition to his school studies Gentian took private lessons with old masters in Rome and Florence. His move to Ireland in 2000 was followed by an honours degree in Art and Art History at the CIT Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork and the opening of his studio and gallery on the grounds of Ballymaloe House in County Cork.

Gentian’s work has been shown successfully in solo and group exhibitions. In 2006 he was accepted for the BP Awards by the National Portrait Gallery, London for his portrait ‘British Ambassador’. This painting was also displayed in the Royal Academy of England, London and the National Portrait Gallery, Scotland. In 2011 he had a solo exhibition at the Austrian Parliament, Vienna. In 2013 Gentian completed the Masters in Art & Process at the CIT Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork.

In his art practice to date Gentian has placed a strong emphasis on portraiture with mythological and symbolic content. He also paints landscapes and traditional animal husbandry scenes.

https://www.facebook.com/GentianArt/info

British Ambassador, Gentian Lulanaj 2006
British Ambassador, Gentian Lulanaj 2006
Kenmare, Gentian Lulanaj 2008
Kenmare, Gentian Lulanaj 2008
Stary Night, Gentian Lulanaj 2009
Stary Night, Gentian Lulanaj 2009

A collaborative project by archaeologist and photographer Brian Mac Domhnaill and painters Gentian Lulanaj and Paul Mc Kenna.