Pauline Bewick's visual translation of Brian Merriman's 18th century literary classic, The Midnight Court, was launched at a reception in The Shelbourne Hotel yesterday, evening where the suite of eleven original paintings were on show for the first time. This exhibition marked a departure for one of Ireland's leading artists as she brings her own creative genius to bear on Merriman's comic epic of just over 1,000 lines in a way which illuminates the manuscript afresh, and is likely to draw a new generation of readers to the original. Solo Arte of Coolgower, Tramore Road, Waterford hosted the exhibitlon through Pat and Clare Keegan.
Pat Keegan was instrumental in encouraging Ms. Bewick to offer a substantial number of her works to Waterford Institute of Technology, where 200 of her works have been offered for display: The Merriman will go on display in December in Waterford's college. Pauline Bewick spoke about the inspiration behind her new work. Master of Ceremonies for the evening was author and historian, Tim Pat Coogan. Music for the occasion was provided by the Cafe Orchestra.
This was a very successful event with a large attendance from Tramore and Waterford. Kieran O'Byrne, Director of the Waterford Institute of Technology spoke most eloquently of Pauline's work and explained that the college were eternally grateful for her most generous donation of work.
He enthused about the Merriman idea and how Pat and Clare Keegan's dream was fulfilled and brought to practical reality, Peter and Ann Jordan advised on the poem's artistic potential. He noted how great a poem it was and read it as gaeilge, with Tramore's Jimmy O'Brien Moran playing an uilleann pipe lilting tune. Merriman was a weaver by trade and is both timeless and universal, the poem's romantic and erotic nature could cause controversy and disagreement a point noted too by Tim Pat Coogan.
For the 1750s it could be termed subversive in a way, English poet Black was seen as a slight comparison. Pauline Bewick was viewed as a kindred spirit of Merriman and through her painting got into the mind of the man, who was dead 250 years ago. The art was done in counties like Clare and near Feakie, where there were nice lake scenes. Pauline Bewick explained how she went to Clare to see Merriman's grave, took photos of Lough Greaney, brought figures like the old hag to life, as she painted them later in Kerry.
Draped clothes on some and none on others. She mentioned how people slept with piseogs in their pillows and how the Queen of the Fairies wanted to judge the men of Ireland and check on their suitability as partners for women, if they did not have any. Tim Pat Coogan noted this theme in his address, which was slightly risque. He even got to mention Bertie's pay rise in his talk then the clergy, the study of angels and the clerical stance on some sexual matters before going onto the Midnight Court.
Hard to describe all this in print, as it was rather tongue in cheek, but he did praise Pat and Solo Arte and the Waterford Institute of Technology for their endeavours in the project. Among the attendance were many from Waterford like Brendan Kennealy TD, Nicky Donnelly of AIB and partner Bernie, Donal O'Connell solicitor and Ann O'Connell, Mr. and Mrs. James Kennedy, ox Bausch and Lomb, Tom O'Toole and Matthias McGivney WIT, Mr. and Mrs. Pat Curran Tramore,Robbie Walsh, Deirdre McLean, who helped in the public relations, Mary Morrissey, formerly Priest Road Tramore and now Dublin, ClIr. Dan Cowman and his wife and many more making it a great Waterford and Tramore evening in this most prestigious evening.