© By Paddy McCann
“That was an important painting for me. I felt it at the time. And people certainly seemed to respond to it. But it was not quite the ‘manifesto’ it may have seemed. I was not strategically turning my back on the staple content or iconography of Irish art, although I had no wish to conform to it either.
It was more a question of being focused on my immediate surroundings – the material reality of what could be seen and felt, and how that works its way into lived experience and the imagination. I picked out fragments of the visual environment, and gave them a place within the work. To mark up an image – any image – was a means to open the floodgates and get the process of painting under way. It served as a passage to the act of painting. But, at the same time, the image of the skip was not chosen at random. In the late 1980s, I had come across a number of skips in urban and rural settings, and was intrigued not just by their stubborn solidity but also their unexpected ‘painterliness’. This was at a time of public atrocity and a pervading sense of futility. I eventually settled upon a configuration of two skips, one sitting inside the other like a recessive image of waste within waste. In his book, Thinking Long, Liam Kelly writes about the ‘elegaic power’ of this image, which he interprets in terms of our two communities occupying the same plot of land. So the politics is there, and also the history, subliminally or indirectly. But the visual associations were what struck me most forcefully. The skips had an oddly military quality – a squat, heavy, metal presence. Like a navy landing craft or an abandoned tank, or a sangar laid siege by paint bombs. They were dented and beaten, gouged and scratched, covered with dirt and awash with graffiti, a whole mess of visual incident … a combination of waste and abuse that was an index, somehow, of what had been happening in our society for so long. I wanted to engage with that.”
Interview with Paddy Donnelly December 2012
Oil on Canvas
DIMENSIONS200 x 300 cms
Destroyed in studio fire