It feels like I've been living in a submarine for the past month. Looking out the port-hole at the monotonous and incessant rain. Today dawned bright, cold and crisp with a frosting on the grass. I had a cup of my favourite Cuban coffee, a bowl of muesli and headed for Killiney Beach with the dogs. The tide was fully out so we were able to walk from the car park all the way to White Rock - and we returned beyond the car park as far as the DART station - about 45 minutes . The beach was quiet - a half dozen walkers, each with a dog or two. I dropped the dogs off and headed into town to check out a few shows in IMMA - stopping at Fixit in the Blackrock Shopping to get the ailing battery in my iPad replaced.
At IMMA the first sight I see on the way in is Barry Flanagan's giant bronze marching hare - a work expressly designed to put you in a good humour. It was originally intended for Aras an Uachtaran until President MacAleese discovered that Flanagan was a Brit. A happy conclusion as far more people now get to see it.
First stop was in the basement of the garden gallery for the Les Levine show. Levine was born in Dublin but moved to Canada and the USA in his early twenties so we can lay little claim to him. I'm not sure we want to anyway on the evidence of this show. The first exhibit was a video of an interview with the artist where he showed himself to be both long-winded and self-important. His CV suggests that lecturing was a big part of his career and I suspect that guff may be his forte. He's considered to be one of the founding fathers of media art (art that uses technology) but there's no evidence of that in the show. The exhibits consisted of photographs of a number of unremarkable bill-board campaigns and a series of 80 photographs from the Troubles in the North. These consisted of the usual gormless Unionists waving Union Jacks or hard-bitten Republican biddies looking sour. I then moved upstairs to where Nick Miller was responding to the studio of Edward McGuire. This was more like it. There was an interesting RTE interview of McGuire by Ciaran McGonigal where he outlined his colour theories. There were also artefacts from McGuire's studio including stuffed birds, his jazz records (Oscar Peterson etc.) and a mummified hare. There were also a series of paintings by Miller where he did a contemporary rendering of some portraits done by McGuire. Thus we saw a fresh-faced young Garech de Bruin by McGuire alongside the current aged version of the same man (see above). Chastening that for the sitter I felt. Anthony Cronin (above) and Paul Durcan were also given the same Dorian Gray treatment.
Back in the main square of IMMA I dropped in to Shot at Dawn, Chloe Dewe Mathews' photographs of locations where 1st World War deserters had been executed. This didn't work I felt. There was only banality where poignancy should have prevailed.
I headed back into town for a late lunch. I parked near the Four Courts and went for a stroll along the Liffey dropping into the Winding Stair for a browse. I happened on a curious self-lacerating poem by a relation of mine in the autumn edition of Moth - Blame was the title. There's an eclectic collection of books on view. Despite my going off him in recent years (the perverse pro-Bush posturing) I bought And Yet - Christopher Hitchens final collection of unpublished essays.
And so to lunch with a friend at Terra Madre. This is a discreetly located Italian restaurant - concealed in a basement on Bachelor's Walk. It features rustic, no-bullshit, Italian food with an extensive wine list. I had the bresaola followed by a truffle ravioli with lots of bread and a tasty bottle of Barberesco. A short, sharp, shock of espresso and I was on the road again.