ANCIENT GAELIC GHOST AFTER COMPLETING A TOUR OF DUTY HAUNTING THE BORDER, PASSING THROUGH A DECONTAMINATION SHOWER BEFORE GOING OFF DUTY. NOTE THE EASTER CACTUS (LEFT) AND HOW BRIGHTLY THE CANDLE CONTINUES TO BURN 1985
Terry Atkinson (1939 – )
- 120 X 107.5
- PASTEL ON BLACK PAPER
- Accession number
Atkinson wrote of this work ‘The drawing is number 11 in a series of 28 drawings called Bunker Armagh ,. It is therefore approaching the halfway point of the series. Even at this point the series was beginning to display some distinct tendencies of having an inevitable logic towards its own termination. This was a tendency to move towards a completely blank surface without a single mark on it. Even at this stage (drawing no.11) the reductive logic of an unmarked black surface as an appropriate simile for the ‘black hole’ intractability of Anglo-Irish history seemed to beckon uncomfortably. I say ‘uncomfortably’ because this direction seemed to re-cover traditional modernist ground – a kind of inverted ‘Malevichism’. The series was always a struggle to retain figurative reference (for example, ghosts, candles, lilies – all symbols of potent Irish Republican romanticism).
The series was eventually terminated (drawing no 28) still in this position of a kind of stand-off between a range of figurative historical references to Anglo-Irish history and a series of unrealised and resisted pressures towards a reductive modernist surface. This discomfort interested me and was one of the reasons pushing me towards the idea of the map, as a kind of receptacle for articulating my growing conviction that abstraction was sufficiently historically established to now have a figurative history. The later Goyaseries, (1986-7) is a response to and test of this conviction.
Many of the Goya pictures are replete with Irish references, particularly through their texts. The political idea of Republicanism is a long-term concern of mine in making pictures (e.g. the Banana Republic, painting of the Blue Skiesseries of 1981), and the work I am making at the moment on Milton and English Republicanism, which try to address some concerns about competing notions of what it is to be English [of English-ness]). The interface between ‘visible’ modern Irish Republicanism and ‘buried’ English Republicanism must seem obvious enough’.
Cries & Whispers New Works for the British Council Collection, The British Council 1988