The Romanticism of Eire


Martin calls me a 'plum wizard'. I used to be known by the nickname Trouble, now one of the chefs at work calls me the magic unicorn girl. My Father always introduces me as "this is Erin, my daughter". Jacob calls me abrasive. My Mother called me "Psycho Baby", but "Daughter Number One" has prevailed for longer (even though I only have a Brother). My first ever boyfriend, still calls me Aeryn, because 15 year-old-me decided I preferred the spelling.

And I can remember her calling me "Erin the mess" while smiling and laughing, and she loved me. If my memory has got this wrong, don't tell me because I want to believe, I want to hold on to this one.

She was right.

They're always right.


Poets and nineteenth-century Irish nationalists used Erin in English as a romantic name for Ireland. Erin is the name given to the female personification of Ireland, but the name was rarely used as a given name, probably because no saints, queens, or literary figures were ever called Erin.

The other weekend I had a conversation with a man about my art and my artistic practice. I regularly talk about art with friends, but rarely the driving forces behind my own works. Surprisingly I managed to articulate my ideas well.

Those readers of mine who practice an art form, do you ever find that when discussing your works, that the discussion enables you to see parts of your driving force and influences that were, before, just part of your subconscious?


Erin go bragh, a slogan dating from the 1798 revolution, is often translated as "Ireland forever". The etymology of the word as it drifted throughout the Gaelic region gave rise to its use by the early Scots to both mean Ireland and "west".

When it comes to art, I am a size Queen. The bigger, the better. Rarely am I impressed by a painting or a drawing, or even singular sculptures and photographs. Artists that work big excite me, Bernd and Hilla Becher are a good example, their extensive photographs of industrial structures inspire. Similarly Ellie Harrison, who documented her thoughts every time she had a hot drink for three years, impresses me.

I used to think that my love for 'big' artworks and multiples only came through in my installations, but I am seeing it in my drawing, printing, and my photography. Perusing the back catalogue of the photos I have taken, I favour angles, lighting, and it shows. Without realising I have taken the same photo many times over the years.

I search for perfection, my overly critical eye tearing my own work to shreds. The repetition of my art practice, in part, certainly, insanity. The part of me that forces the creativity is searching for bigger, better, and always has been. I strive that maybe with enough knowledge, it'll click, it'll work. That with all the bizarre and useless pieces of information I know, I will be able to create something that I can look at and say 'I've got it'.

I'm searching for that seminal piece of work that lies dormant inside of me (See: Tracey Emin's Bed, Van Gogh's Sunflowers, Magritte's The Treachery of Images). Knowing this, is a step in the right direction. It's an exciting prospect to know that what I am working towards, I have laid the foundations, and despite my not-realising, those foundations are secure and strong.