Lines of Vision: Irish Writers on Art

Janet McLean

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2014, Thames and Hudson,                                                                                                  Hardback, 232 pages

More than fifty acclaimed Irish novelists, playwrights and poets have selected pictures from the National Gallery of Ireland as setting-off points to explore ideas and tell stories about art, love, loss, family, dreams, memory, places and privacy. The artworks and the literary responses to them are wonderfully vibrant in their diversity. 

Seamus Heaney finds quiet beauty in a canal path by Gustave Caillebotte; Roddy Doyle gives voice to a man in a crowd painted by Jack B. Yeats; Colm Tóibín considers a portrait redolent with possibilities by John Butler Yeats; John Banville sheds light on Caravaggio’s darkness; Jennifer Johnston recollects colourful mealtimes by way of Bonnard; Kevin Barry tells the tale of a bittersweet fairground encounter, stirred by Ernest Procter’s The Devil’s Disc; Colum McCann visualizes women workers in wartime factories via Mary Swanzy’s abstract Propellers; Paula Meehan poignantly presents the postwar world inhabited by Irish artist Gerard Dillon.

This anthology is published to mark the 150th anniversary of the National Gallery of Ireland.