There can be no covenants between lions and men.

I will eat you raw. I love you so.

The primary goal of this work was to conduct an ontological mythopoeia, a parable, the scope of which expanded into something of a self-contained mythology, where I alluded to various subjects throughout Irish history from the days of the Ulster cycle cattle raids, through the plantations, and right up to the Troubles.

Interested in how classical philosophy used allegories like Plato’s Cave and Aristotle’s Sea Battle, I resolved that ‘logos’, as an appeal to logic and reason, relies on a ‘mythos’ as a vehicle to be contextualised. I took to this approach to investigate the paradox of Free Will, within the canon of my own oeuvre, defined by the opportunities to examine my relationship with my heritage.

The Irish language and oral tradition are important elements in my practice, and verbal wordplay often trespasses into the visual or conceptual vocabulary in the work, such as Ifreann (Hell) & Aifreann (Mass).

To Hell or to Connacht (2019) is primarily a work of expanded drawing practices as opposed to conventional (or even unconventional) Cinema. It exists as a visual rambling, a contemplation on the Cromwellian phrase which became a corrupted gospel or testament of a densely poetic and personal response to contemporary Irish art, theatre and history.

This island has always known great hunger, we are a starving people, though I have never met him, I took the soup, and it did not burn my tongue, or my mother’s tongue, or my mother-tongue. This island has always known great evil, we are a god-fearing people, though I have never met him, I drank the blood, but it gave me no tongues of fire either. But I tasted the salmon, the forbidden fruit, and here I regurgitate its stories, and like Orcus, who devours the sinner, you devour me as I speak.

An important aspect of the work is the Orcus / Ocras / Olcas motif.

Orcus refers to the Etruscan deity who would devour sinners in death, while Ocras and Olcas are the Irish words for Hunger and Evil. The Salmon of Knowledge (consumption), the Potato Famine (involuntary starvation), the sacrament of communion (abject food loathing), the Maze prison protests (defecation) and hunger strikes (voluntary starvation), all meld together in this digestive cycle metaphor for the inevitable struggle and catharsis inherent in mythical, historical and contemporary Irish life.

Hand drawn animation is a volatile and performative medium and a paradoxically crude and elegant form of organic storytelling.

To Hell or to Connacht premiered in the Crawford College of Art & Design, featuring in the Degree Exhibition DISMANTLE

(7th-14th June 2019)

Other Exhibitions include Fledglings, Lavit Gallery (September 2019) and BOMBARD, CIT James Barry Exhibition Centre (October 2019)

Opening Reception of BOMBARD exhibition, CIT James Barry Exhibition Centre 18th September 2019  •  Photo credit Darragh Kane Photography

 © Paul Connell 2019

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