Monday, June 05, 2017


Click on any image for a larger version

At last, the catalogue for The Foggy Dew is available. Regular readers will know that this exhibition blew my mind when I first saw it at the beginning of 2016.

The catalogue is quite an ingenious production. As well as including shots of the exhibition it gives us an insight into its assembly, somewhat on the lines of those additional features that come on film DVDs. There is also an essay by Ciaran O'Neill, Ussher Lecturer in History at TCD, setting out some of the background.

The exhibition itself ran from 15 January to 21 February 2016 in the RHA. It then went on to the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in Ballycastle, and the Ballina Arts Centre, Co. Mayo from 16 July to 21 August 2016. I would like to thank the artist and author for permission to use the material below.

Extract from Mick O'Dea's copybook 1970/71

Mick O'Dea is from Ennis, Co. Clare, and his views of 1916 were formed by his environment and particularly the hubris of the national celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising in 1966.

Fortunately he has kept some of his school copybooks from the period and the catalogue gives us some very interesting illustrations from these.

The format of the catalogue is itself reminiscent of one of those special hard cover copy books we had in school, more often than not for science subjects.

Finishing off Britannia

The shot of Mick putting the finishing touches to Britannia gives a good idea of the scale of the project and the materials used in the three dimensional elements of the exhibition. The crudity and anonymity of cardboard was cleverly crafted and, when combined with some excellent bespoke lighting, really hit you for six.

British troops awaiting capitation.

The use of bodies suspended in the air and simulating the after effects of explosions capped the whole thing with a sense of movement.

Daniel O'Connell and friend

Ciaran's essay is great background to both the artist and the events he portrays.

I have two (small) bones to pick with him, however.

My experience of birds on O'Connell's head has been of seagulls and not pigeons and I suspect that the image here is closer to one of the former. I can't speak for what they do in Ennis and, anyway, I don't think my sight would stretch to the elevation down there.

The scene well in advance of the 1916/1966 parade.

Ciaran says that the 1966 celebration parade "marched past the stump of Nelson's column". A very poetic evocation of independence gazing down on shattered empire. Except he does an injustice to both the Defence Forces and the Corpo. There was no stump by then. The scene was as if Nelson had never been there - gone, obliterated.

While Britannia's Huns
with their long range guns
sailed in through the foggy dew.

I'll leave you with this powerful image of Britannia and, hopefully the words of that powerful song ringing in your ears

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