Standing on the shoulders of giants

Giants Causeway, 40cm x 30cm, pastel on card

Growing up in Northern Ireland, one of the first things that you learn in school and in life is that there’s more to this world than meets the eye. Ladies and gentlemen, there’s enchantment all around – the landscape has been etched by fairies and folklore (don’t cut down a hawthorn tree or the fairies will seek vengeance) and giants once roamed the earth.

Whichever version of history you lean towards the Giants Causeway on the Antrim Coast mesmerises. Visually stunning it dramatically holds its own against a dizzying midday sun or wild January seas and skies.

Geology is no less dramatic than legend, the Causeway was born in the turmoil of volcanic eruption and molten rocks that cooled to set into over 40,000 basalt columns, set together like pieces of a jigsaw.

However every school child knows the real story is of angry giants, with Irish giant Finn McCool building the causeway to go fight his Scottish rival, Benadonner. Don’t believe me? Go check out the huge rock boot and chair and organ pipes left as evidence.

Whilst the Giants Causeway attracts millions of tourists from across the world, it’s engrained in my mind as a place of childhood holidays. Blue skies, sunny days, scrambling one slippery rocks and scree, climbing the cliff path and icecream afterwards.

There’s a photo of me, aged about 8, with my sister, my cousin and my lovely, much loved Aunt Jean (who we lost much too soon, nearly 30 years ago). We’re perched on this basalt columns, blinking into the sun, Aunt Jean’s arms around us, warm rocks at our backs. It’s a happy memory and as I’ve been working on this and the painting has emerged into life the memory of that photograph, and that childhood day out has taken hold and become a driver. It’s what i see now and think of when i look at this painting, a perfect memory that is tinged with love and loss and the feeling of warm sun baked rocks.

The painting is a commission. I plan to make some prints so watch out for those on my shop page.

In the meantime here’s the final framed painting. Thanks

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