September 10, 2010


On this day in 1981, Guernica, probably Picasso's most famous painting, was recieved by the town of Guernica in the Basque region of Spain.


There was a blacksmith's forge at the end of Barrett St. in Ballina, still in operation there when I was a child, I think his name was Ford. I have vivid memories of him and the place. Even at that time, the blacksmiths trade was all but redundant, I guess he was one of the last in the area, replaced by the arc welder and milling machine.
In college we learned to weld with the arc and later when I worked in a foundry in Dublin, welded with MIG and TIG plants.
Picasso was great hero and inspiration to me as a student, particularly his open-form assemblage sculptures made post 1920 with Julio Gonzalez, in fact I wrote my thesis on this subject. In the late 80s, I was collecting old scrap metal and welding it into sculptural forms in an assemblage style and called them 'Agricolas'. I considered it to be a type of drawing in three dimensions and I got a kick out of taking the discarded scrap and turning into art.
The image above invoked this declaration, it's a gate which bridges the gap between two stone pillars on my driveway. It must surely be 80 - 100 years old - it too, made from the discarded pieces in the blacksmiths forge, mostly the flattened iron cart-wheel rims and straps. It is a thing of beauty to me and I'm very fond of it, particularly the face that occupies the centrepiece. This says a great deal about the man that made it; he had a sense of humour, perhaps the artist in him was finding a way to express itself, he had time and was proud of his achievement here, enough to personalise it with his signature.
The Irish landscape is littered with this kind of treasure, often neglected and cast aside, we need to open our eyes now and again to see it and appreciate it.

Photo: 50mm prime lens used here. I wanted to emphasise the sculpted face and used a wide aperture to blur out much of the image. This shot was processed in ARC as a RAW file, nothing else. ISO 200. 1/100 @ f/2