The Glass Curtain
By Carlo Gébler
The Glass Curtain explores the daily lives of those that lived in rural communities in Northern Ireland throughout the years of the Troubles. For many people when they first arrive on the island the division between the two religious communities may not be immediately clear but soon this changes, astounding the individual.
Many images have been applied to the politics and society of Northern Ireland. In my experience shoreline metaphors are the most popular, for these carry within them the idea of something beached, washed-up, stranded, which is probably the general perception of the situation in Northern Ireland, as seen from the rest of the British Isles.
In my salad days I might have subscribed to these metaphors, but now my chosen image would be two trees, old and vast, standing side by side. If we were to delve below the surface of the earth on which they stand, as in a section drawing from one of my childhood encyclopedias, passing through the top soil and the subsequent strata of clay and rock, we would discover that their white roots twist and intertwine to such an extent that it is impossible to sort out which roots belong to which tree.
Back above ground the trees stand apart. They have no ostensible connection, yet they draw nourishment from the same soil, and so bound up are their roots with one another that to pull one tree out would kill the other.
Copyright © Carlo Gébler (1991)
Subtitled ‘Inside an Ulster community’, a description of life in a rural community, confronted with the challenge to change and apparently unable to meet that challenge.
Carlo Gébler describes a society which holds ossified attitudes and exists to indulge difference and tension.
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