What we have made of our country

What we have made of our country Shaping Ireland: Landscapes in Irish Art at the National Gallery of Ireland
Shaping Ireland: Landscapes in Irish Art

National Gallery of Ireland, Merrion Square, Dublin

Beit Wing Rooms 6-10, Exhibition runs to July 7

These days, when everyone is so conscious of the world around them and with environmental matters, it will come as a surprise to many to discover that the admiration of landscape is quite a recent development.

It was unknown to the ancient or to the middle ages. Then what was admired was farmed land, made-use of land. The mountains and forests were seen as the wilderness, dangerous places, filled with dangers and outlaws.

The show presents a creative selection of artists’ responses to the landrace both wild and cultivates over the last 200 years or so, illustrated by veering from paintings and etchings to videos and photographs.

These works of art are responses; to the viewer they pose questions in their own way. They do not provide answers. What we did, and are doing, to what has been called “our common home” is often dismaying. But that common home is not just the common home of humans, but of all living things.

It would have been good to see a few more images of animal life to fill out the emphasis on a common use for all creation. We need to think to that just as we demand privacy, perhaps nature does too. There will have to be places set aside where people simply do not intrude.

There is much to enjoy in this show, but many of the items and their possible significance will linger long in the memory.