August 14, 2015

Irish Relief Block Prints (Part II)

        This second selection of Irish block prints features scenes of Dublin, and I’ll begin with another piece by Paula Pohli, whose work I shared last week, as well.  This one is a contrast from her dramatic dolmen view, and it sticks to black and white, with an emphasis on all the different geometric patterns of the city (plus the wigglier texture of the water.)  I really like the variety of lines and rectangles, some black on white, some white on black.  Somehow the completely plain, blank white sky reads as gently overcast, which is right for Ireland.
        Next, for contrast, is a black sky, perhaps a clear night.  This is a view of Trinity College by Mary Grey.  The foreground looks almost abstract, while edges of the roof melt into the background.  Yet despite the lack of precise detail in this piece, the circles and stars of the bicycle wheels lined up along the front of the building make a fun and beautiful detail.
        The third piece, by Mary Plunkett, is an illustration of one of the stories in James Joyce’s Dubliners.  It’s titled after the line “she heard his footsteps clacking along the concrete pavement and afterwards crunching on the cinder path before the new red houses..”  I confess that I don’t know the story, or why these houses aren’t red!  Perhaps there’s some special significance in the interesting viewpoint of this street, with the two sides sprouting away in both directions.  Note the typical Dublin fanlight arches over all the doors, even if these have no tracery details and are more modest than the famous Georgian show houses.  They’re very simple, without any signs of life - no plants or flowers, no curtains in the windows.  This adds to the emptiness and unreality of the street.  In fact, all three of these pieces show a Dublin devoid of people.  In terms of art that’s just fine with me - I usually prefer my landscapes people-free, but you have to admit it’s a pretty unrealistic image of the bustling, buzzy city of Dublin!

[Pictures: Liffey Walk, linocut by Paula Pohli (Image from Graphic Studio Dublin);
Trinity College Dublin, linocut by Mary Grey;
Before the New Red Houses, linocut by Mary Plunkett, 2012 (Images from Graphic Studio Dublin).]

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