On the wrought iron railings of St. Stephen’s Green, beneath a rustling canopy of June foliage, a transient gallery of paintings waits patiently for a fond eye that has for too long gazed upon a wall that is missing something.
One by one, these original artworks will cease making the return journey from studio to street as the artist surrenders their creation to the care of another. They will be hung, carefully, looked at from a distance, straightened until right, and set, to be admired through the passing of time, unchanging as the lives around it unfold.
How much will be witnessed between those paintings hung together on that June day? Side by side for a moment in time, then scattered to a myriad of different worlds.
How much do we share in our own lives with those that pass through it? When fleeting friendships come and go, or the passage of time sees people grow apart, will we forever hang like paintings in each other’s memories? Stationary, unchanging, appreciated for what we were, and serving as mere decoration in the vast expanse of a life lived.
I spent some time with these paintings. There were those which captivated me, while others were not to my taste. The ones I admired the most were landscapes, beautifully capturing striking moments on a nameless day; a lavender evening; silver flecked clouds in the sky at dusk; the milky hue of a foggy afternoon by still waters, the sun’s force still present and imbuing the haze with shades of palest yellow.
The rows of artwork paused reverently at the gateway to the Green where the pathway was scattered with leaves, so well depicted, and grazed by graceful swirls in the afternoon sunlight. Like noble custodians, the landscapes framed a scene like those from whence their creators’ inspiration flowed.
I passed through the gate, from depiction to the depicted.
Each unmoving tree and every flower caught in time became at once rich and tremulous with life, and breeze induced whispers were their music. As I crossed the bridge which traversed the pond, the calm waters beneath were disturbed only by abundant trees whose limbs leaned down to brush the surface, encouraging tiny waves, and bobbing ducks whose ripples lapped the surrounding rocks.
Who would not wish to immortalise such a scene if born with such a gift? And who would not wish to possess it? A painting of a landscape reminds us of the original, and assists with the fantasy of its depiction where memory and the imagination can add what the painting cannot convey. The pleasure of gazing at a wondrous setting, imagining yourself wandering within, caressing the lavender, experiencing its scent, losing yourself in the sound of water, being the sole confidante of leaves’ gentle whisper, becoming enlivened by the buzzing of a bee dutifully visiting each flower, tenderly resting on its petals before lightly hovering to the next, its delicate stem bending obediently before returning to its upright position, and making the most of the sun.
To encounter a beautiful representation of such a scene is a joy, to walk among it, divine.