NewRoss in Flux
Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance or merit than is actually possessed….
I am writing this missive as a means to describe a short film on the subject of time and the effects human endeavour has had on the fabric of the landscape we inhabit. The film illustrates the genesis of a medieval town and it’s subsequent decline into disuse and despair - more’s to the point, the film describes the creation of an oil painting that portrays said genesis and decline… produced as part of a larger project that I undertook describing the development of a river crossing from pre history to the present day. Over the course of a year I interrogated a selection of historical sources to inform the evolution of a changing landscape in an attempt to better understand how it came to be.
During the course of the project I utilised a selection of found historical sources to develop two large scale history paintings of the areas around Wexford Harbour on the south-easternmost corner of Ireland and the Norman town of NewRoss on the river Barrow. For a large part, these paintings were concerned with the arrival into south Wexford of the Normans and the major changes their arrival had on the architecture and infrastructure of the area; but the scope of the project was not confined to any one specific period in time. By starting in pre history and bringing the painting forward through time I hoped to show something of the mishmash of cultures that went into creating the landscape as it exists today.
When I started the paintings it was with the express intent of ignoring aesthetic considerations as they pertain to the finished works of Art [in so far as that can ever be possible] and my reasoning was thus: I wanted to put a greater emphasis on the journey that I was to go through in the process of finding some truth in the images as they developed (as if by magic) on the canvas before me… Each distinct frame was to be informed by the reading of what historical sources I could find on the subject area, where the ideas for the mark-making grew organically from not just the raw data, but more importantly from the time spent standing in front of the canvas in contemplation of the various things that I had learned. Each image looked to describe a different epoch in time and was designed to superimpose and work against the preceding layers in a way akin to the natural processes of development as it would have occurred on the ground over centuries. Both feature paintings were concerned with this onward progression of time and the impact man has had on the world around us, the point being that: how over long periods of time, all that was thought of as new and different, would in the course of a few generations, come to be taken for granted as being part of the natural environment.
So in conclusion I am looking for a means to describe an environment constantly in flux. I hope my movie will be of interest both as a thought provoking short film in it’s own right and also as a lasting historical document pertaining to the history of the subject area.