Landscape – The Civil War Drawings

Landscape – The Civil War Drawings by Lorraine Walsh
Exhibition of Work at Athy Library from May 22nd to 31st, 2023.

Informed by research in local and national archives, as well as historical accounts and cultural works, the six drawings, are the artist Lorraine Walsh’s reflection on the Civil War in Ireland (1922-1923).

The charcoal & graphite drawings depict places in County Kildare that were sites of conflict, 100 years ago. Over a period of a year, the artist visited the places recorded in the archives. The drawings are a contemporary record of the landscapes that were witness to a difficult period in our history. Four of the drawings include printed and handwritten text that document both the official record of the time, and the voices of the survivors and their families, in the years after. The words express the weight of the landscape of loss, of trauma, disillusionment and exile, that the generation who experienced the Civil War bore.

In In ‘The Bridge’, a list of lost possessions, including ‘one blue serge suit, one cap, one pair boots, two shirts, one bicycle with lampshade’, belonging to a brother who was later executed. The list was recorded in the archives by a sister in the years after the raid on their home.

‘Crossroads’ remembers an ambush, in which young soldiers lost their lives. The text including ‘hedgegrows’ ‘loss’ ‘nation’, ‘principal wound’, ‘legacy’, ‘heart’, ‘burden’ and ‘Why not speak?’ refer to the burden of silence that often was the legacy of our civil war.

The text in ‘The House’ drawing refer to when the big house became a symbol of ‘past’ ’columns’ of power. ’Column’ also refer to the columns of military forces that often sought to destroy the big house and ‘exile’, those who called it home.

‘The Escape’ documents the prison numbers of some of those who escaped internment at Newbridge barracks, including the artist’s grandfather. The drawing also hints at the dark & inhospitable landscape that the 12,000 men and women who were interned, found themselves in, during the Civil War and in the years after, when many emigrated, suffered bad health and trauma resulting from their experience of war.

The defining of a nation and a people is an ongoing project., hopefully this body of work can bring us closer to understanding the landscape of our past, our present and our future.

Landscape – The Civil War Drawings
This project was made possible by a Kildare County Council Artistic & Creative Bursary supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 initiative.