Alchemy, spirituality – and photoshop.

Tough day and not altogether satisfying. Plus, I’ve just realised that it’s a bank holiday weekend. I have to do something special to mark that.
Notice on the web that there is a late opening gallery near me so I walk out into a calm, warm evening that I didn’t even know that was there.
Here’s what I’m looking for: 18 The Copper House Gallery
Synge Street

And here’s what the show is about:
Into the Greenwood Deep – An exhibition by Phil McDarby Phil McDarby is a digital artist and photographer, whose work is informed by a sense of magic realism. This is his first solo show. At the heart of this work is a desire to capture a feeling of wonder and discovery – something we can lose touch with as adults.

Given the incestuous nature of the social media, I hasten to say I don’t know Philip nor the gallery owners. My problem is that the address is not quite correct. George Bernard Shaw lived on Synge Street but where’s No 18?
I stop and ask a woman who gets out her cellphone and becomes engrossed in it. Important message? No, she’s looking for The Copper House Gallery for me. Another woman approaches, notebook in hand.
“You looking for The Copper House?” I ask. But no, she’s looking for The Lantern House.
“What’s on there?” I ask. Apparently something about spirituality.
“And you,” I ask the cellphone woman. “What are you looking for?”
“A talk about alchemy in art,” she says and then Bingo! She’s found my art gallery and so we all part, to continue our quests for art, spirituality and alchemy. It’s that sort of evening.

The gallery’s correct address is St Kevin’s Cottages but the cottages are long since gone. Instead, there’s a laneway that leads to the gallery.
“I’ve come here,” I tell the gallery owner, “because some places are open late on the second Tuesday of the month.”
I need to say this so that she understands I’m just out for some fresh air and won’t be buying anything.
“ First Thursday,” she says smiling and gives me a personal tour of the show.
I look at the photographs. They’ve been done with photoshop and one shows a little girl, on her own, in a dark greenwood with spookey eyes looking out of tree trunks.The artist wants to project the greenwood as a safe place and that within it, darkness is often OK. It’s true that in Celtic mythology, the underworld is a good place – subversive but good. I don’t agree but say nothing. Why spoil someone else’s dream?
There’s another image of a small boy looking up at a cloud from which grows a fabled, fantastical turreted castle. When I was a small girl – and indeed when I was a big girl – I avoided looking at clouds in case the Virgin appeared on top of one at which point I would have to become a nun. Luckily, this never happened.
Then again, when I was in the Sahara and walked out alone, beyond the camp, to watch a majestic electric storm develop high in the sky and miles away, I saw a lightshow of magical proportions in which appeared fabled buildings, turrets, sky scrapers, huge spatial cities. It was awesome and terrifying and I hurried back across the sand dunes to the comfort of the fire round which my Saharwi companions were sitting.
The gallery owner chatted. They do prints here and can scan huge oil ;aintings. Apparently, with the recession, this is the way to go. Where before, an artist might sell a painting for 10.000 now s/he has prints made of the original work and sells 40 of them at 250 each and everyone is satisfied.

When I get home, I pour myself a glass of brandy. The lable on the bottle reads Zagreb. It’s quite soem time since I’ve been in Zagreb. Maybe I bought it in Moldova…


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