The Clare Glens might best be described as a glacial spillway. Their waters burst over the Slieve Felim mountains abseiling red sandstone cliffs, plunging and boring through terrestrial faults in relentless and only momentarily halted pursuit of the abyss. The Clare river divides Limerick from Tipperary, its name comes not from County Clare, but from the word clar meaning a wooden board. Its dramatic, indeed dangerous descent from the mountain was taken because of glacial diversion, and such was the innate desire to plummet the depths that it never returned to its easier bed. Rather, it dug into the mountainous slopes, creating a vertiginous ravine to which clung the last remnants of Ireland's primeval oak. Here they make their last stand, accompanied by loyal retainers: wild and rare plant species which they continue to protect.
Henry MorganHenry Morgan has been painting scenes from the Clare Glens for thirty years. He used to go there with easel and canvas and paint what he saw before him. Now he distances himself from what is immediately present and uses 'the Clare Glens' as a device to let paint flow on canvas. He walks through the Glens listening and looking as rapid water journeys through rocks. The visitor to the Glens must go when the sun is directly above the depths of the ravine. Too much to the left or to the right and no light penetrates. At its zenith, however, the sun plays havoc. Browns, greys, blues and reds pulsate through the perpendicular lighting. Otherwise there is darkness. It is walking on a lost planet. These paintings try to capture the play of light on river and rock. No trees, no leaves. Just water and rocks. It is life passing by. The artist keeps these impressions inside himself and returns to his studio where they work on him and he works on them until they emerge as paint on canvas and turn into the panoply here on display. These bare not picturesque snapshots of a natural scene; they are energetic and emotional responses to what happens in landscape as it makes its way through the attentive presence of the viewer. The journey of the river parallels our won journey as we accompany each other on our way. There are moments of turmoil, fast-flowing stages, reflective pools of rest. Not sweet pictures to remind us of places we have enjoyed. The timing here is late summer moving into Autumn when 'the dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight Upon the wind-warped upland thorn' The river makes it sombre music as it crashes through teh glacier glen. Such moments too have inner beauty. But like the geometry in every snowflake, they require full, almost microscopic, attention to ley them bare. Mark Patrick Hederman & Anthony Keane ,