Lines of Vision

Lines of Vision

Irish Writers on Art

  1. Edited by Janet McLean
  • ISBN 9780500517567
  • 22.90 x 15.20 cm
  • Hardback
  • 232pp
  • 60 Illustrations, 60 in colour
  • First published 2014

More than fifty acclaimed Irish novelists, playwrights and poets have selected pictures from the National Gallery of Ireland as setting-off points to explore ideas and tell stories about art, love, loss, family, dreams, memory, places and privacy. The artworks and the literary responses to them are wonderfully vibrant in their diversity.

‘Beautifully produced … a perceptive, original and enjoyable anthology’ – Irish Arts Review
'If you're in a mad rush to buy presents for Christmas and you find Lines of Vision in a bookshop, you'll soon realise you've picked a winner. It's a treat in pictures and words'–
‘The quality of 'Lines of Vision' is scintillating … A delightful concept, a gift if ever there was one … an entertaining, often charming, and in every way compelling composite’– Cassone
'It’s a varied, vivid anthology, and the first pleasure is in finding out who chose what. There are poems, stories and essays. Some writers offer personal anecdotes and memories about visits to the gallery. Some are inspired directly by the subject matter of a painting, and some use it as a jumping-off point to create a piece that is separate but related in some way'– The Irish Times
‘A publication that is as much a tribute to the depth and range of contemporary Irish writing as it is a wordy love song to the artworks that illustrate its thick and creamy pages … each [writer] does something unique to expand on the chosen artwork’.– The Sunday Times
‘The editor, Janet McLean, has assembled an impressive roster of writers … what comes through most strongly is the sense of intimacy between writers and paintings’–
'Concise essays with sumptuous prints of the paintings … Seamus Heaney’s last poem is a highlight'– Sunday Telegraph

Each of the writers in Lines of Vision creates and connects vividly with other worlds – observed, remembered and imagined. Perceptive and, at times, deeply personal, their creative responses to pictures invite us to look at art in new lights and from different angles.

‘The paintings were windows through which I could see snippets of other people’s past lives, and in doing so recognize something of my own.’ So muses Christine Dwyer Hickey in her response to The Goose Girl by Stanley Royle.

Seamus Heaney finds quiet beauty in a canal path by Gustave Caillebotte; Roddy Doyle gives voice to a man in a crowd painted by Jack B. Yeats; Colm Tóibín considers a portrait redolent with possibilities by John Butler Yeats; John Banville sheds light on Caravaggio’s darkness; Jennifer Johnston recollects colourful mealtimes by way of Bonnard; Kevin Barry tells the tale of a bittersweet fairground encounter, stirred by Ernest Procter’s The Devil’s Disc; Colum McCann visualizes women workers in wartime factories via Mary Swanzy’s abstract Propellers; Paula Meehan poignantly presents the postwar world inhabited by Irish artist Gerard Dillon.

This anthology is published to mark the 150th anniversary of the National Gallery of Ireland.

Janet McLean is Curator of European Art, 1850–1950, at the National Gallery of Ireland. She grew up in Co. Down and was educated at Trinity College Dublin and the Courtauld Institute of Art. She has previously been a curator at the Watts Gallery, Compton, the Palace of Westminster and the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

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