BENEATH THE SURFACE

I love lakes. I was born near a lake and there is a lake at the back of my house in the Burren, Co. Clare. The two couldn’t be more different. The first is big, deep and mysterious; the second is shallow and its shape varies enormously in size depending on the season.

The first, which I have re-visited recently, is surrounded by steep mountains that protect it creating a micro climate that allows for the growth of olive and lemon trees and luscious vegetation. It is so beautiful that tourists have been flocking to it for centuries making it a very sought-after holiday destination.

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The second is wide open to the skies, situated on an almost bare limestone pavement and its visitors are mainly geese, pine martins and a few humans.

I like staring into the waters and imagine all sorts of creatures living in there while I reflect on the many images that come to the surface. Later on I let these images take shape on paper as I draw in a kind of a dreamy mood. These images I draw or paint over and over refraining from analysing them: mermaids and stag-men, vessels of many shapes and sizes, warriors from lost civilisations, wild animals, composite creatures, rocks and headstones, wild and inhabited landscapes.

During my recent visit to the big lake I explored a natural gorge formed by glacial melt waters of a river that has shaped gigantic potholes and impressive caves. The view from the platform attached to the rocks is amazing while water rushes over rocks hundreds of feet below. The dark recesses, the dull rumble of the tumultuous waters conjure up thoughts of a mythological being that lures in the caves excavated by the water or in the depths of the water itself.

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Before entering the deep lake, the river flows by a semi-derelict tower. On one side of the building there are paintings of mythological creatures. One of them looks like a Satyr that carries a forked, long-handled tool. The building (called the house of the Devil) evokes the collective fears of the devil and the satanic rituals, making palpable the mysterious charm of the place.

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