Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Troubles and Rita Donagh

The group of artists featured in the WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution show in 2007 has been the subject of this blog for quite some time.  There were so many artists included in the show, I can't imagine they were discussed at much length in the show itself and so I thought it would be educational to learn more about them.

And it has.  The artist who is the subject of this blog today, Rita Donagh, is a bit of a mystery to me though.  I can't figure out why she was in a feminist show, particularly.  Maybe if you know why she might have been included, other than because she was a woman, you could comment on that below.  

The majority of her art was inspired by the Northern Ireland Conflict, euphemistically called the Troubles, that started in the 1960's and didn't "end" until the 1990's.
©Rita Donagh - Counterpane

I appreciate art that addresses the history of war.  This is because of how were are led to know and remember things.  I believe that events in time, before history is born, are remembered differently by anyone present; remembrance is colored of course by opinion, level of involvement, the coping mechanisms of the person, and so much more.
©Rita Donagh - Single Cell Block

Especially when a collective of humans are exposed to the atrocities of war...which in this case is still being called "Conflict", the facts human kind does not wish to remember (because of shame and/or fear of a tarnished legacy ...or whatever) are subverted, rewritten or ignored.
©Rita Donagh - Shadow of the Six Counties
There are artists who document memory before events are transformed and appropriated into "a history."  Rita Donagh is one such artist.  She is of Irish descent and was in her 20's when the Troubles began.

U.K. blogger, Eirene, on her blog A Place Called Space visited the Hugh Lane City Art Gallery in Dublin in 2013 and saw Rita Donagh's work there.  The following is a photo from her blog and her description of this work:
©Rita Donagh - Bystander
"The 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s provide the context for Donagh's Bystander.  This work is part of a series she made under the general title Disturbance.  In this painting Donagh's depiction of Ireland is that of a country that has been stunned by an excess of death, grief, repression and fear. Northern Ireland has become a strangely glacial region where universal whiteness descends threatening to extinguish everything in sight. Two press photographs, modest in their proportions, testify to events in the region. The one on the top left hand side is a newspaper photograph of children playing in an urban wasteland surrounded by dereliction. The second one is of a woman who was killed, caught in the middle of an urban battle: there were no blankets left to cover her body with, as so many had been killed, so her body was covered with newspapers. The rest of the canvas is abstract, large areas where oil and pencil are used - a horizontal bar near the base of the picture contributes to a feeling of constriction. There are areas of murky grey at the top of the painting, evoking an overcast sky and diagonal lines lash through the composition reminiscent of wind-driven rain. This is a painting about violence and loss and it's incredibly powerful."
That is all I have for today.  I hope you make time for incredible creativity and follow what ever it is that exists in your heart for the making.

I also want to thank all of the readers of my blog.  As of today there have been over 4,000 page views of my 120 posts to date.  Thank you.

'Til tomorrow!