‘Powerscourt 1945’
280 x 400mm
10 hand pulled inks, collaged newspaper, and vintage gold gilding on 285gsm Fabriano Rosapina Ivory paper.
Edition of 16
Numbered and signed by the artist

Last year my mother asked me if I would like some old gold leaf she had inherited (my grandfather was a gardener in various estates over the years). She said it had been surplus to a gilding job on the gates in the Powerscourt estate in north Wicklow. I said I was very interested, but I would come back to her when I had a plan for it. I noted it was wrapped in some yellowed newspaper, but didn’t pay much attention at the time. I assumed it was probably early seventies in vintage.

Months go by, and I finally resolve to do a piece that alludes to the source of the gold. I ask to see the package, to gauge how much gold leaf is actually usable, and discover the actual age of the newspaper, and gold – 1945! The war is still underway in the Japanese held islands. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are a month away. Myles na nCopaleen / Flann O’Brien is writing in less than respectful style about the investiture of new President Seán T. O’Kelly. I feel bad about the destruction of this little package of ephemera, but it’s sat in a drawer for nearly eighty years, and will do so again, unless it’s re-introduced to the world as part of a print.

So… I’ve tried to coalesce the spirit of the late ’40s with the visual language I like to work with in 2022. There’s a lot going on here – ten layers of ink – including two layers of hand painted monoprint greenery, loose sketched interpretation of the Bamberg gate – which I’ve decided was likely to have been one of the Powerscourt gates to recieve the gilding makeover in 1945. An overlay of a documented, and gilded section of the gate, that runs right to the deckled edge of the print. I aimed to use the entire remaining stash of gold leaf in the edition, which ended up, after pruning out the inevitable casualties of a ten layer print, to 16 in total. It’s a special piece – obviously a one-off, and one where I let myself be led by the process, and responded to the givens of the artifacts, the gardens, the history, and the preciousness of the material.  The print is intended to be float mounted in an A3-or-larger box frame, but YMMV (it’d probably benefit from a slightly larger frame, but I went with A3 in the pictured version) . Newspaper clipping subject matter is pot luck, but they’re all captivating little messages from a moment that resonates in history. Thanks Ma!