Thursday, 30 June 2016

New Ross Library Workshop









Photos from my workshop in New Ross library yesterday, where I was teaching drawing basic geometric volumes and how they interact with light. Impressive results and a lovely group of people to help out!

Monday, 25 April 2016

Sketching at UCD Experimental Archaeology Centre

Mesolithic House in UCD

Early Medieval Beehive house

My pen and marker sketches done while at the UCD experimental archaeological centre on Saturday

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Visiting to UCD Centre of Experimental Archaeology

Guided tour of the centre by Prof Aidan O'Sullivan

The early medieval beehive hut

sketching the Mesolithic hut 

They lit a fire inside the beehive hut so we could chill out and soak up the vibe 
I spent the day yesterday sketching in the UCD Experimental Archaeology Centre, sketching there with Sceitse, was one of the coolest places I have sketched in. More about the UCD Experimental Archaeology Centre here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/286322324795899/

More about Sceitse here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/sceitse/

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Inside a Medieval Parish Church


Continuing on from my post a few days ago of the outside of a Medieval parish church and its environs, here is a cutaway of the interior of that same church. It is mostly based on evidence from the eastern side of Ireland, so would be firmly within the anglo-Norman area. Since most medieval churches in Ireland were left go to ruin after the reformation, very little evidence of the interior of medieval churches survives in Ireland, besides the walls and structure itself, essentially everything made of stone. Because of this, the layout and walls etc are based on Irish evidence but the rest mostly comes from Britain, i.e. everything that isnt stone.  So the interior of the church structure is mainly a combination of Wells, Co. Carlow, Kilfane, Co. Kilkenny and Faithlegg, Co. Waterford. There are two main parts in a parish church, the nave and the chancel, ill deal with both individually

Nave

The nave is where the parishioners were situated in a church during mass, everyone who wasnt clergy essentially. Probably the first thing that would grab most peoples attention is the wall painting and its colour.We are so used to the drab and plain interiors of churches these days, it would quite surprise us just how vibrantly colourful medieval churches were. Most people were illiterate so wall paintings served the dual purpose of beautifying an interior and helping illustrate some of the biblical stories. Its the same with the houses, most were many vibrant colours, it seems the people of the middle ages were quite colourful lot! The interior wall painting here is mostly based off Kempley with elements from other churches in Britain like St. Johns the Baptists church in Clayton, Attleborough church in Norfolk, Broughton in Cambs, and copford church in Essex.

 Most people would have stood in the nave but from excavations there has often been found a small number of seating, most likely for the rich or better off in the community. The seating here is loosely based off ones found in AllSaints, Incklingham, UK. The stoup beside the door is based off one in St. Mullins co. Carlow, this would have been used to baptise babies, these are often found by door, essentially so children were baptised before they entered into the church proper. The statue recess is based off such a recess in Kilfane but could have been a wall press too. Separating the nave from the chancel is the Rood or chancel screen, a partitition that divided the interior space of all churches, this one is based off Barton Turf Church, UK. The roof is Kempleys' roof and it is theorised in England that alot of their churches had ceilings created by the tie beam or bottom collar, instead of open to the roof, which would have been plastered over. The reason for this is that ceilings would have been easier to keep clean, could be even painted on, as the upper parts of the roofs often could be very dirty, full of cobwebs and even bats, so keeping them out of view from below, made alot of sense.

Chancel

The crowning glory of a medieval church was often its chancel window, the one here is a lovely tracery window  in the east gable of Killeen, Co. Meath. Many windows in churches would have had glazing or stained glass but others would have just remained open, only to be closed by wooden shutters that could slid into place from the inside. The altar itself is based on one in St. Caimins church, Inis Cealtra, co, Clare. Illustrations from the time show a cross and two candles ontop of a table cloth as alter decorations, as well as wooden board around the base of the alter. Altars are usually found in Ireland to be either against the gable wall or almost abutting it.

On either side of the altar are two statue recesses, found in Kilfane church in Kilkenny. The statues throughout the church are loosely based on ones from the middle ages found in Fethard. co. Tipperary and others from Medieval Waterford city. Just above the altar in Kilfane there was a slight rectangular recess, here I inserted alabaster carvings, which have been found in churchyards in Ireland and were probably imported from Nottingham and elsewhere in England.

To the left of the altar is the sedilla and the piscina. The piscina is from St. Mullins in Carlow, piscinas were used to wash the holy vessels after the mass. This is the recess closest to the chancel gable on the left wall. Usually besides them were priest seats or sedillas, which are kind of self explanatory, the priests or deacons could rest here in various parts of the mass, this particular double seat is from Kilfane.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Medieval Parish Church at twilight


An illustration of a medieval parish church based on several parish churches I have visited around Ireland but also with evidence from Britain. Parish churches were one of the most important structures ever built in Ireland, as with parish churches came the division of land into parishes. This division seems likely to have begun before the arrival of Normans but it was with the Anglo Normans where it reached its zenith and continues even to this day as one of the ways of dividing the land.

Its hard for us to imagine these days, the power that the church had in the middle ages. It was a power so complete and utter that there was no escaping it. They were the most powerful institution in the middle ages, often in some places, more wealthy than the King himself. Like a local lord, peasants and serfs, had to work some of the year, for free, on their lands. They didnt pay any taxes and they also received tithes from peasants and serfs, that is one tenth of everything they made. You can imagine this made them extremely rich. Also in every important stage of life, there was the church, when you were born, when you died, when you got married, when you gave birth and after, it was always there. And if you shirked your duties to them or didn't pay your tithes, you could be spend time in the stocks or flogging and you may not get your place in heaven in the end. Im sure sometimes they resented this but at the same time, these were extremely devout people and probably believed by doing these things for the church, they were doing it for god too and their place in the after life.

The Church here shows some typical features of parish churches in the middle ages. For instance an embankment is often found to surround an old church, which would have had Lychgate entrance, none survive in Ireland, as with many religious artifices here could be a result of the destruction brought on by the reformation, so this based on British examples. The graves themselves have been found in excavations not to align to east-west, but rather are more often aligned to the element that they are closest to, e.g. aligned to the paths or the church itself. Also a common feature of medieval church graveyards would have been the yew tree, as it was was in prehistory and still to this day, its probably because the yew trees needles sterilize the ground around them, so prohibiting other plants to grow. Also notice the house within the graveyard, this is the priests house, which would have been a common feature within many medieval churches areas.

The Parish church here is the typical of a high medieval church with both chancel and nave. The nave was the part where the parishioners would sit, or more often stand, while the chancel is where the alter was and was the holiest of holy in a church. The nave was the responsibility of the community itself to take care of with their time and money, while the chancel was the responsibility of the clergy. The church also has a double bellcote, the feature with the bells, which is often found in medieval churches in Ireland, this specific one is based on the one in Dalkeys medieval church, in Co. Dublin.

The door is based on one I visited recently in Kilsheelan in Co. Tipperary, which is probably a Romanesque doorway from an earlier church moved to Kilsheelan when the Normans built the church there. The windows are based on ones found in Wells, Co. Carlow, which are high medieval windows, note the sandstone, which is Dundry stone. Dundry stone is often found in churches in the east of Ireland, its an imported stone from Dundry in south west England and is one of the signs of an early or high medieval church. Also note the roof is covered in clay tiles, there has been some found in Dublin during excavations very similar to the ones shown here.

Im nearly finished a cutaway of the interior and shall post it in the next few days or week, we can continue the exploration of medieval parish churches there so stay tuned!

Thursday, 31 March 2016

People of the Easter Rising Illustration

There were three major forces that fought in the Easter Rising on the Irish side; the Irish Citizen Army, the Irish Volunteers and Cumann na mBan. I had only had time for two illustrations of the groups in the 1916 Easter Rising, the latter two. Two of these forces were quite closely related, the Irish Volunteers and Cumann na mBan, kind of male and female sides of the same coin. While the Irish Citizen army were a socialist armed force, originally created to protect workers from police after the Dublin Lockout of 1913. 



Irish Volunteers

After the Ulster Volunteer Force was created in the north to protect the Ulster Protestants from Home Rule (which they believed Home Rule was Rome Rule), the rest of Ireland took a leaf from their book and created the Irish Volunteers. In the case of the Volunteers though they were created to defend Home Rule from possible British aggression rather than oppose. They were started in 1913, originally just training with sticks, they eventually became armed when they smuggled guns into the country in 1914 from Germany, shortly before the breakout of World War I. They were a huge organisation, with close to 200,000 members at their peak. When WWI started, the irish Home Rule party in Westminster supported Britain in the War in return for a promise of Home Rule when the war ended, so most of the 200K Volunteers went to fight for Britain because of it.

But a section of it decided to stay home and not fight for Britain. It was part of that element that made up the bulk of the forces on the  Irish side in 1916, probably only around 1,000 or so members, though there was only about 1,400 in total on the rebel side. They were involved in alot of the key fighting, the most bloody of the battles in Mount Street Bridge, where a handful of Volunteers (17 I think) held off thousands of British soldiers for a day in a tiny area. It was this battle that was to have half of the total of British dead in the Rising, as the British command used the same idiotic tactics as they did in the trenches, sending wave after wave of soldier at the enemy, in highly exposed positions as the rebels fired down on them from the protection of the houses.



Cumann na mBan

Setup in 1914, they were very much the female side of the Irish Volunteers, and played a key part in the Easter Rising.  For many women, they saw the rising as an opportunity to win equal rights in a new country, away from the oppression of women in the British Empire. During the rising the Cumann na mBan mostly didnt take part in any of the direct fighting, instead played a supporting role like running messages, tending the wounded etc.

It was in the Irish Citizen Army, that women actually fought in the Rising, mostly under Countess Markievicz in St Stephens green, with Connolly (leader of the Irish Citizen Army) believing alot more in the equality of women than many others. Here women as well as men took up positions in the park, showing the lack of military know how of the leaders of the Rising, as the park was dreadfully exposed and allowed the British to take over buildings around the park and fire directly down on their exposed positions, kind of the opposite of Mount Street Bridge battle. Eventually they had to retreat to the College of Surgeons nearby and stuck it out there for a few days.  It was Countess Markievicz who was to take over Cumann na mBan after the Rising and revitalise it a new in the following years.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

The Battle that awoke a Nation


Easter Monday, Dublin GPO 1916

"All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born."

The well known above quote by WB Yeats about the Easter Rising of 1916  hits the nail on the head. On Easter Monday, 100 years ago, everything was about to change when Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the 1916 rising, stepped out before the GPO in Dublin and read aloud the proclamation of the Irish Republic:

"IRISHMAN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom."

It was to be one of the seminal moments in Irish history and one that marked the beginning of the war of independence in Ireland. In other words, something worth commemorating with an Easter Rising 1916 Illustration!

To give a very brief account of the Rising (I mean super brief!), it mostly occurred in Dublin city where a group of idealistic Irish men and women took over key parts of Dublin city. Their aim, to inspire the rest of the country to rise and from the rising to create an ideal country for all, one where both men and women were equal as well as all those of every religion.  Unfortunately for them, they were more idealists than military men, some being poets, teachers etc. After 6 days of intense fighting on the streets of Dublin, there was no hope of victory as the British had shipped in thousands of reinforcements from Britain to quell the rebellion, I believe something in the region of 16,000 soldiers, which massively outnumbered the small band of Irish Rebels, something around 1,500.  Also only parts of the rest of the country ever rose (as another part of the rebellions leadership, specifically Eoin MacNeill, disagreed with the rebellion happening then and countermanded the order to rise, so many did not come out) and so they were eventually defeated.

Its ironic but it was the British heavy handed reaction to the rising that cemented into an inspiration it was to become. With General Lowe, the general in charge of British forces giving the order to take no prisoners, which encouraged some angry English soldiers to shoot civilians and surrendered combatants. And the general shipped in to deal with the defeated rebels, Maxwell, blundered and executed the leaders, turning the leaders into the inspiration they had aimed for, those martyrs who died for their ideal Ireland. In fairness to the British army though, these were men more used and trained to fight in WWI France than an urban rebellion, which required more delicate handling.

In summary though, these events turned the rising into a shinning symbol of national herocism for many, a sacrifice to awake a nation.  Which it helped to achieve, as soon after public opinion sharply turned away from home rule through peaceful means to that of complete independence through the use of force, and so the rising was the first real steps of the Irish war of Independence.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

From Laois to Caher Castle

Early medieval Aghaboe Abbey, with later additions

St. Ruadáns church, Lorrha, from early medieval to modern

Lorrha Priory, late medieval

17th Century Portumna castle

Caher castle: My Abode for the night! Had the top two floors to ourselves! 

Inside Caher castle

Inside Caher castle


Athenry castle

Much of Athenrys Medieval wall is still there

The mindblowing Clonfert Cathedral

On Saturday last, I took the long route and stopped in a few places between where I live in Waterford to Caher castle in Galway. Stopping in Aghaboe in Laois, then Lorrha, North Tipperary, Portumna, Galway before staying the night in Caher castle for my birthday.  The next day we went to see the amazing Clonfert cathedral arch and see Athenry

Monday, 14 March 2016

Exploring Southern Kilkenny

St. Mullins early medieval monastic site 
Graiguenamagh with the famous Duiske abbey beyond

Kilfane church

Cantwell fada

Gowran Collegiate Church

Tullaherin early medieval ecclesiastical site
Spent a full day exploring southern Kilkenny and a bit of Carlow for a day last week, looking for reference for future illustrations. Doing this sort of thing, is one of the nice parts of the job, especially on a nice day!

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Sunrises and Sunsets





Just because this time of year is the best for sunrises and sunsets, here are some I have had the pleasure of witnessing over the last few months

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

A Morning by the lake- the Mesolithic life



A bit more serious than the last Mesolithic image, a Mesolithic lake scene

Monday, 22 February 2016

The Storyteller


Just messing about with the Mesolithic really, having fun!

Friday, 19 February 2016

Mesolithic/Hunter-Gather Dwelling Concepts





Over the last few weeks I did about 250 Mesolithic dwelling concepts, here is a selection of my favourites, from the weird to the impractical back to the practical. The images were inspired either by looking at other hunter-gatherer societies or at what may have been possible or practical concerns they may have had or the materials available to them in this side of the world or a combination of all those. 

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Slievenamon Sceitse

The Cairn ontop of Slievenamon

What is probably a fake standing stone

Myself and other intrepid sketchers who walked Slievenamon in the snow

The sun occasionally popped out to say hey

Kilcash castle

Kilcash church romanesque early medieval door

High medieval door at Kilsheelan 
Myself and a few other intrepid sketchers climbed Slievenamon last Sunday. It was snowing ontop, talk about an amazing experience, I love walking on snowy mountains, its like being in another world!

After the mountain, we visited the nearby Kilcash castle and church and finished up in Kilsheelan