Thursday, October 1, 2009


Claimed (2009) 10 x 24
mixed media (photo transfer, acrylic mediums and paint on board)

to demand
to ask for
to take as one's own
to state to be true
to assert or maintain

I'm nearing the end of my show and tell of "Reading a Garden" which was the work I exhibited at Cube Gallery in Ottawa. This is one of my favourite pieces. For several months I felt it would never reach completion. It was the classic case of "what next?" You get so far and then you have no idea how to resolve the work. I later decided the difficulty arose from now having a firm idea about what I was trying to say in this work. Once I wrapped my head around that , I was fast forward.

As you might expect Birr Castle is a very prominent aspect of Birr Castle Demesne and can be seen from many vantage points . It sits on the edge of a small valley and my favourite orientation was looking up at it. I wanted to highlight its physical presence in this work while at the same time mark the long history of the Parsons family in the Birr area and my own presence on the property. Because I know Sherwood (fellow renter of the Bothy cottage in Birr Castle Demense) will have a comment on this work I'm posting the inspiration pictures. You will understand all from these and realize I take lots of liberties when composing.

One of the prominent features of the Millennium Gardens are elegant white benches situated near the Barvarian Urns. I loved the flourish of the intertwined Rs, designed to commemorate Anne's (the present Earl's mother) marriage to Michael Rosse, the sixth earl in 1935. There are two designs but I preferred the more angular one. Can you see how I used it in the painting?

The family motto - "Pro Deo et Patria ad Astra": For God and Country to the Stars- is inscribed on the main gates to the Demesne. We made many trips through them to reach The Bothy cottage. I have to admit I never once felt "right" about going through these gates. They admitted me to a property that was a far cry from what I knew growing up. In my own way I have claimed this property and at the same time I recognize the long history of the Parson's family .



layers said...

great photos, and your painting has so much idealized detail and beauty.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Margaret, this is wonderful. I have so many comments that I hardly know where to begin.

Your choice of which Anne Rosse bench to use was the right one, I think. While I prefer the grace of the other one as a bench, the angularity of the one you used works almost startlingly well with the greenery it entrains in "Claimed," just as the rigorous structure of the formal gardens entrain their flora to synthesize a lovely blend of the structured and the wild.

You didn't get to visit the castle during your shorter stay, did you? If you had stood on the Parsons' front porch, you would have seen right away why the castle "can be seen from many vantage points": the huge grounds' sightlines were designed so that many of their treasures can be seen from there.

Diane and I never felt out of place going through the gates. I can't speak for her, but I think I felt a kinship with the workers who lived in the Bothy, not "ownership" in any way of the Demesne, but a working part of it for the time we were there. "Claimed," for me, worked the other way 'round: the Demesne claimed me.

If you would be so kind as to send me a slightly larger digital image of "Claimed," I would love to feature it on SherWords.

Congratulations, Margaret. This is a superb crown for the series.

Margaret Ryall said...

I am a terrible reporter of my successes. Claimed was purchased at the show I had at Cube Gallery in Ottawa. I am sad and happy. I will get more information about the owner when I return to Ottawa at the end of the month. I'll send that image to you.

Sherwood Harrington said...

Then I double my congratulations in the previous comment: one to you, and one to the new owner!