Art in Fo­cus The Pit and the Pen­du­lum by Harry Clarke

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - CRITICS’ CHOICE | 33 - AI­DAN DUNNE

What is it?

The Pit and the Pen­du­lum is an orig­i­nal il­lus­tra­tion by Harry Clarke (1889-1931)

Howwas it done?

The Pit and the Pen­du­lum is one of the pen and ink il­lus­tra­tions Harry Clarke made for Edgar Allen Poe’s col­lec­tion of sto­ries, Tales of Mys­tery and Imag­i­na­tion, in an edi­tion pub­lished in 1919 by Ge­orge G Har­rap, Lon­don. Clarke’s dark, rather mor­bid sym­bol­ist im­agery – The Book­man de­scribed the il­lus­tra­tions as “ad­mirable and ter­ri­ble”, in the sense of ter­ri­fy­ing – is richly imag­ined, in­tri­cately worked and highly de­tailed. While clearly re­lated to the work of Aubrey Beard­s­ley, his ex­tremely stylised vi­sion is un­mis­tak­ably his own. A fol­low-up 1923 edi­tion in­cluded eight colour plates. It sold so well it was in its third print­ing by 1928.

Where can I see it?

It is in­cluded in Mys­tery and Imag­i­na­tion: Harry Clarke (Work by Harry Clarke and oth­ers. Craw­ford Art Gallery, Em­mett Place, Cork, un­til Jan­uary 19th, craw­for­dart­gallery.ie). Fol­low­ing on from last win­ter’s ex­tremely well at­tended show of Clarke’s water­colours, Dreaming in Blue, this ex­hi­bi­tion fea­tures his ink draw­ings and water­colours made as il­lus­tra­tions for Poe’s Tales of Mys­tery and Imag­i­na­tion and John Keats’s Eve of St Agnes. Pre­sented in con­text with pieces by Mar­garet Clarke, Seán Keat­ing and Wil­liam Or­pen.

Is it a typ­i­cal work by the artist?

It is typ­i­cal. Clarke is prob­a­bly best known now for his stained glass but, as his friend Lennox Robin­son wrote fol­low­ing his death: “Ire­land has lost her great­est de­signer in stained glass, and her great­est black-and-white artist.” Clarke’s book il­lus­tra­tions had proved enor­mously suc­cess­ful. Be­sides pro­duc­ing il­lus­tra­tions and de­signs for stained glass, ei­ther of which would have been a full-time oc­cu­pa­tion, un­til the ex­hi­bi­tion, the gallery holds a su­perb se­lec­tion of print­works by a wide va­ri­ety of artists. It hardly needs point­ing out that lim­ited edi­tion prints rep­re­sent ex­cel­lent value, es­pe­cially with the im­pri­matur of such a highly re­garded stu­dio. Open un­til 3pm on Christ­mas Eve (then from Jan­uary 5th).

Win­ter Group Show

The Molesworth Gallery, Molesworth St, Dublin. Un­til De­cem­ber 23rd Cristina Bunello’s paint­ings have a rare, mes­meric qual­ity. Painstak­ingly made, they ap­pear to have been con­jured into be­ing, in­tact. Their magic-re­al­ist as­so­ci­a­tions with fairy tales in­clude the edgy men­ace of fairy­tales. Her Snow White is in the show. Like Bunello, her co-ex­hibitors, in­clud­ing He­len ill­ness pre­vented him – and he was dogged by ill-health through­out his trag­i­cally short life – he ran the stained glass work­shop es­tab­lished by his fa­ther as part of his church dec­o­rat­ing busi­ness. While he was at the Dublin Metropoli­tan School of Art, Clarke met and even­tu­ally mar­ried a fel­low stu­dent and fine painter, Mar­garet Crilly, and in time she and his brother Wal­ter took on much of the bur­den of the work­shop.

De­spite an ex­tra­or­di­nary level of pro­duc­tiv­ity, Clarke did noth­ing lightly. He in­vested prodi­gious en­ergy in every project and drew on an ex­ten­sive range of sources and in­flu­ences. Éimear O’Con­nor has writ­ten about the

Blake, Megan Burns, Mercedes Hel­nwein, Cather­ine Bar­ron and Molly Douthit, are all ut­terly dis­tinc­tive artis­tic per­son­al­i­ties.

Taoiseach’s Res­i­dence and State Guest­house Ar­chi­tec­ture Com­pe­ti­tion

Ar­chi­tec­ture gallery, Ir­ish Ar­chi­tec­tural Ar­chive, Mer­rion Sq, Dublin. Un­til Fe­bru­ary

Many orig­i­nal draw­ings from en­trants to the 1979 com­pe­ti­tion to de­sign a res­i­dence for the Taoiseach on the site of the for­mer Un­der Sec­re­tary’s Lodge in the Phoenix Park. At the time the com­peition at­tracted a great deal of in­ter­est in Ire­land and abroad: Zaha Ha­did, David Chip­per­field and Rem Kool­haas all sub­mit­ted pro­pos­als. The win­ners, Evans and Shalev Ar­chi­tects, never saw their scheme way that, while he was very knowl­edge­able about Ir­ish lit­er­a­ture and tra­di­tion, he also looked much fur­ther afield and was as deeply in­volved with a com­plex of Eu­ro­pean and Eastern sources. Be­cause he did not fit into any read­ily iden­ti­fi­able art his­tor­i­cal cat­e­gory, he was for many years un­der­es­ti­mated, with his­to­rian Ni­cola Gor­don Bowe be­ing the key fig­ure in re­dis­cov­er­ing his sig­nif­i­cance. The lay­ers of de­tail that are em­bed­ded in his im­agery can seem lim­it­less. It is hardly sur­pris­ing that his work, whether in stained glass or il­lus­tra­tion, con­tin­ues to throw up sur­prises and rev­e­la­tions. come to fruition. When Charles Haughey re­placed Jack Lynch the plan was shelved on eco­nomic grounds. A vis­i­tor cen­tre now oc­cu­pies the site.

AModern Eye: He­len Hooker O’Mal­ley’s Ire­land

Bourn Vin­cent Gallery, Foun­da­tion Build­ing, Univer­sity of Lim­er­ick, Lim­er­ick. Un­til Jan­uary 17th

A woman of huge en­ergy and tal­ents, from a priv­i­leged back­ground in Con­necti­cut, He­len Hooker chanced to meet Ernie O’Mal­ley and they mar­ried, set­tling for some time in Ire­land. Pho­tog­ra­phy was but one part of her cre­ative ac­tiv­i­ties (along with sculp­ture, de­sign and the­atre). There are riches to be found in her doc­u­men­tary im­ages of Ire­land’s an­cient sites and struc­tures from

or­gan is trans­planted in a cur­rent Christ­mas flick from Paul Feig? a) Liver b) Heart c) Kid­ney d) Brain

is the odd one out? a) Do not ex­pose to

sun­light b) Do not let it come in

con­tact with wa­ter c) Never, ever feed

af­ter mid­night d) Do not let it come into con­tact with cats

above is not a gift in the 12 Days of Christ­mas?

Christ­mas flick was par­o­died in a re­cent painful elec­tion video for the Con­ser­va­tive Party? a) The Santa Clause b) Love, Ac­tu­ally c) Three Days of the Con­dor d) The Holly and the Ivy

Christ­mas song pro­vides the ti­tle for a Sch­warzeneg­ger groaner? a) Ding, Dong, Mer­rily on High b) The Lit­tle Drum­mer Boy c) Jin­gle Bells d) Away in a Manger

film does not fea­ture some­one who sang on the orig­i­nal ver­sion of Do They Know It’s Christ­mas? a) Dune b) Buster c) The Man Who Fell

to Earth d) Pink Floyd’s The

Wall

can­celled Christ­mas for the folks in Nakatomi Plaza? a) Knut Hansen b) Pe­ter Brötz­mann c) Dirk Dig­gler d) Hans Gru­ber

Star Wars char­ac­ter made his first ever ap­pear­ance in the no­to­ri­ous Hol­i­day Spe­cial? a) Yoda b) Jar Jar Binks c) Jabba the Hutt d) Boba Fett

is not a real Net­flix ti­tle? a) The Christ­mas Chron­i­cles b) The Knight be­fore Christ­mas c) A Christ­mas Prince d) Queen Christ­mas

is the great­est ever Christ­mas movie? a) The Mup­pet Christ­mas Carol b) It’s a Won­der­ful Life c) Love, Ac­tu­ally d) Silent Night, Deadly Night

An­swers at irish­times.com/cul­ture

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