I recently revisited the National Art of Ireland and was pleasantly surprised by their lovely little bookshop. One of the books that caught my eye was Lines Of Vision. I loved how this book linked artworks from the gallery’s art collection with various Irish authors and poets.

Maybe my mind has not fully developed in a cultural sense but I sometimes I prefer to be given a little bit more background knowledge before I can enjoy a piece of art. The title and actual artwork are not enough for me, I need to be prompted in a certain direction before I can form solid thoughts of my own.

The next time that I visit the National Art Gallery, I will get so much more out of my visit. I will know what I am looking for and I will appreciate seeing it in front of me all the better. Who knows…I might even write a short story or poem of my own in response to a piece.

Check out a couple of my highlights from reading this book so far.

The Poachers by James Arthur O’Connor

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John Boyne comes to the fore to write a very dark short story about the legacy of fatherhood. I previously reviewed Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies but my admiration and respect for his talent grows even more here. I would love to see him write more in this style of writing. I asked the author about writing in this style and he was kind enough to respond.

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“He was five the first time his father took him into the woods. Make a sound and you’ll regret it, the old man said. The boy nodded, kept his lips tightly sealed. He knew what it was to go against him.”

The Devil’s Disc by Ernest Procter

The Devil's Disc by Ernest Procter [1886-1935]

I love Kevin Barry‘s work so this was on of the first short stories that I read. In just three pages he writes a lusty little tale about the last night of a summer fair. Read a short, snappy article featuring Kevin Barry on this painting here.

“when her fingers brushed the sides of hair over her ears I knew I was away”

The Singing Horseman by Jack B. Yeats

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This painting caught my eye on my last visit to the National Art Gallery so I was delighted to see that Moya Cannon wrote a poem about it in this collection. She links the horse to famous steeds of legend, but connects the rider to an ordinary youthful man on his way home from the races.

“the painter, who paints them both,

is an old man who remembers a hundred races

a hundred summers’ evenings.”

Jack B. Yeats was the brother of the famous Irish poet William Butler Yeats. Such talent in one family!

Banks of a Canal by Gustave Caillebotte

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Ever since I read his translation of the Aeneid, I am on a serious Seamus Heaney mancrush. With Heaney, sometimes you are left wondering what image or experience is hiding behind his words. It is incredibly insightful to know what the master poet is looking at here as it allows the reader see the world through a poet’s eyes.

Even though the subject matter seems at first glance to be a simple painting, Heaney once again turns the mundane into the magical. This puts me in mind of his beautiful poem When all the others were away at Mass. A true genius of literature.

Water says, ‘My place here is in dream,

In quiet good standing. Like a sleeping stream,

Come rain or sullen shine I’m peaceable.’

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Get Lines Of Vision for €18.33 and free shipping by clicking here.