France and Ireland
where I live on a clear morning one can see the ruined walls of the
Château de Montségur. It was there that on 16th March 1244, 225 Cathar
Parfaits chose to be burnt at the stake rather than renounce their
dualist faith and went singing, freely, to their auto-da-fé. It is a
haunting memory which always serves as a reminder that beliefs are an
integral part of existence.
problem for the Cathars, and for many others, has always been
interference by other people. But today at least in the French
Department of Aude, and equally in county Galway Ireland, the desolation
and wildness make no claim on me, and I am left free to develop my
painting in accordance with my beliefs.
both France and Ireland I go and sit in a bar or brasserie. A painter
in the corner of a bar in Ireland is treated like a slow-witted
conjuror, someone about whom one can't be too sure; in France the
is more respectful. The smoker will blow smoke rings, and the waiter
will study the influences in your work with feigned indifference.
father and his brother passed on to me their love of Ireland. My father
restored a ruined castle, Carraigin, on Lough Corrib, where I go to
paint; and my uncle Richard Murphy lived and worked as a poet in
Cleggan, on the west coast. After Oxford, I went out to live in county
For three seasons I hunted with the Galway Blazers, and took aerial
photographs from a microlight. Much of my understanding of imagery had
its beginning at that time. I can still see Micky Dempsey's pink coat
against the dark brown bogs of Attymon.
and error are my great masters. A painting is nothing more or less than
a series of brush strokes; and of each stroke one may say: "If you like
it, leave it; if you don't, wipe it off." In my search for colours that
move, much of a picture will end up as rags around my feet. Why some
people are painters seems partly to do with this persistent desire to
correct and alter the image. This persistence and tenacity can suggest
that the completed image exists somewhere already, in the way Plato
proposed. In fact a quiet hope of mine is to discover, on death, that
the heavenly substance from which, say, all pears draw their "pearness",
looks a bit like one of my paintings.
Montreal d'Aude, France