Irish Church & Barn Owl
(scroll down for description)
36” x 36”, acrylic, 1999

In the Connemara district of Ireland there are a number of wild and lonely lakes. If you take a boat to a certain island on one of them you will find a path winding into a woodland. The path leads to a clearing and there are the ruins of an early 12th century Christian church. There was a dreadful and dark time for the fledgling Christianity. Vikings and barbarians were busy robbing and destroying the fragments of the Roman Empire. In remote corners little bands of priests kept the flame of learning and literature alive. The Irish monks were of vital importance in hiding and maintaining the spark of civilization that was there when stability and security returned to Europe (that is, if one can describe the feudal system as stable and secure).

I felt that this clearing and this church with the sky for its roof had a very spiritual presence. I cast the painting in green tones . . . a spiritual colour to me. I added the barn owl, which could have been there. This bird is near the earliest owls on an evolutionary scale. It also has deep symbolic roots in the beliefs of the pre-Christian Europeans. I like the way the owls face echoes the eroded faces of the saints embedded in the Romanesque arch.