Rock and Stone

Dancing Shiva, 1992

I recently attended the unique retrospective exhibition of Eileen Mc Donagh ‘s work ‘Lithosphere’ at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Carlow.  The numerous stone sculptures vary in scale from monumental to small, giving the viewer a feeling of respect. In fact I’d say I felt meditative when I encountered with such beautiful pieces.  The exhibition was unusual in the sense that large scale stone sculptures, usually displayed outdoors were here displayed indoors.

Ogham Stone I
Ogham Stone II (2011)

Stones are an intrinsic part of the environment and have been carved for centuries and commemorate aspects of humanity and ancient civilisations. Many stone sculptures from other eras can still be seen today and their craftmanship appreciated. In many regards, Eileen’s vast stone pieces create a link to this timeless quality of stones. In some ways, her stone art works made me think about what the Earth contains below its surface and what it is made of.


As a stone-carver, Eileen Mc Donagh prefers to interfere as little as possible with the blocks of stone she finds in various locations in Ireland and abroad; the minimalist shapes of her art pieces show this approach.  She is fascinated with geometry and the way it governs the universe. Her fascination is best exemplified in her star pieces based on the complex shape of the icosahedron. Not something I had ever heard of but when viewing these shapes, I was awed both by the complex mathematics and by the sheer craftmanship and beauty of their perfection.

Test Bed, 2009

Granite seems to be Eileen’s favorite stone to work with. This stone is found in the continental plates of the Earth crust in between two to fifty kilometres below the surface.  It is a hard and tough stone with some irregularities in texture ranging from medium to coarse; its colour varies from pink to grey; These natural characterisctics give the stone its beauty and individuality. The art pieces display a variety of textures ranging from rough to smooth and polished. It cannot be easy to work with such monumental pieces of rock yet Eileen works makes it look effortless.

The impressive installation ‘Cathedral’ features a forest of eight metre high trees that are  based on directly from Eileen’s stainless steel sculpture ‘Medusa Tree’. I felt a sense of peace and serenity when I entered the space and walked around these gigantic trees. The branches are like hands trying to reach to the sky.

Cathedral, 2011

Each tree is in fact made not from stone but styrofoam and papier mache all dyed in pale bluish grey that mimick the apperance of stone. The white marble sculpture entitled ‘ Petrified forest’ continues the theme in a different way and we are reminded again of Eileen’s relationship with natural materials.


Forty shades of green

Green is the colour that is the most visible to the human eye. We are indeed surrounded by it wherever we go in the shape of fields, meadows, grass, trees, bushes and leaves.  For that reason, it represents Nature and its attributes such as rebirth, regeneration, fertility, freshness and life. Green is therefore a colour mainly associated with ecology and peace. Since medieval times, green has also an association with calamity or misfortune and is the colour that symbolizes envy and jealousy. Green is people’s second favorite colour after blue. It usually brings a sense of safety and harmony and has the same calming attributes of the colour blue.  It can be mentally and physically soothing as a colour. As a matter of fact, in the entertainment world, the green room is the room where performers and guests go to relax before and after appearances.

Philip Wilson Steer, Beach at Etaples (1887)


Almond green, light green, pistachio green, artemisia green, mist green, celadon , sage green, verdigris, ocean green, apple green, grape green, fern green, laurel green, opal green, tea green, chartreuse, sea-green, eau de nil.


Marc Chagall, the poet reclining (1915)

Grassy green, Scheele’s green, emerald green, avocado green, cabbage green, Cyprus green, teal green, Persian green, malachite green, olive green, sap green, asparagus green, jungle green, mantis green, harlequin green, jade, Kelly green.


Army green, bottle green, Pine green, Hooker’s green, Moss green, cypress green, forest green, spinach green, hunter green, myrtle green, holly green, Brunswick Green.

In the world of interiors

Green is easy on the eye and soothing therefore it is an ideal colour in bedrooms,  living-rooms and offices. Various shades of green harmonize beautifully as in they do in Nature. The neo-classical interiors of the mid 18th century favoured pale olive green and pale apple green. Check Devine Fescue and Devine blade by Colortrend. Strong colours were used in early Georgian architecture such as pea green or grass green in south-facing parlours. Deeply influenced by nature, the art nouveau colour schemes were quite muted.  Eau de nil and sage green were popular then. Try croscombe and pluckley by Albany, Traditions. Lime and pistachio green were the favorite greens in the 1950s. Check quince, a light lemonish-green by Kevin McCloud  for Fired Earth.

Out there now

  • Berry tree wallpaper by Scion, Melinki Collection                          
  • Brushed lime throw by Cushendale Wollen Mills, Co.Kilkenny.
  • ‘Apple Vase’ by Ingeborg Lundin, 1957
  • Selene chair by Vico Magistretti, creator of the first monobloc chair, 1969
  • The ‘green wall’ by the landscape designer and botanist Patrick Blanc on part of the Quai Branly Museum in Paris.
  •  My favourite muppet, the one and only , Kermit the frog

In the Natural world

The verdigris agaric is a medium-size slimy mushroom found in grassy woodlands  from  Spring to Autumn. Its colour becomes yellow–ochre as it matures and it grows in Britain, Europe and Iran.

The plumage of most of the Amazon parrots is of a bright green. These birds are native  to Mexico, South America and the Carribean.

Emerald, jade, malachite and tourmaline are naturally green stones ranging from pale to deep hues.