Irish language broadcaster Manchán Magan wrote the following article on the opening of the Marie O'Driscoll exhibition which took place on Friday night in the Cashel Library.
“There have always been those in society who can see the truth, who understand what lies beneath the superficial, and the best and most potent of them manage to find a way of communicating this insight to the rest of us through words, music, images, dance or pure energy. They are dangerous figures, with the potential to awaken us, to shake us out of our stupor.
“Those in power fear these figures. They are system shakers, rabble rousers, dangerous purveyors of expanded thinking and wider perspectives. Thurles-born Marie O’Driscoll is one of these. She is an asarlaí, a wizard, a potent conveyer of deep energies and wisdom about such elemental notions as the power and potency of the land, of the realms beyond and of what we as human beings can tap into, if we awaken to it.
“She somehow can see beyond the physical realm to what lies beneath. A shaman, who in the most subtle, sumptuous and alluring way, manages to convey many realms contemporaneously through her art work.
“In her landscape paintings we are guided to see the immense vibrancy, fertility and fecundity of nature, and how by tuning into it we can see how this bounty is in fact a harmonious, loving energy. It is an energy that will bestow its bounty on us, that will heal us and will guide us. In her works, it is often the persona of a young, bright eager girl who is seen interacting with the natural world, the divine earth goddess, but this young figure represents all of us – the spirited, free, open innocent entity that lies within us all, although often buried deeply.
“Her alluring, open and expansive art lures us in to a place of ease and openness and begins its work reminding us of these greater truths. Her work may at first appear simple and innocuous, but in fact it is deeply transformative, if one allows oneself to truly engages with it. Her landscapes are multi-layered – often beginning with bedrock in the distance – mauve hills, red sandstone, or blue-grey limestone with communities in the foreground, interspersed with small growing areas – woodlands, fields, flower meadows, veg beds and orchards – a perfect harmonious blend of nature and humankind, working in coalescence. It is a powerful vision of an idyllic past and a potential future, if and when humanity awakens to it.
“Some of her artwork may seem nostalgic for a distant time, but in fact it is as much about proclaiming a potential future, in which communities return to what they once had, to create strong, supportive tightly-knit societies, which are interdependent and nurturing. In O’Driscoll’s vision of this future, the women have found their voice and spirit. They are in ascendance. So many of her works feature strong, gallant, vibey, fun, brave women who are totally in control of their energies, their outlook, their lives. Her work radiates this essence of the liberated, woman in tune with herself and the forces of the natural world and the empathy, intuitive energetic world too. But again, the focus on the female is not in any way exclusive. It is about encouraging both men and women to open themselves to these aspects inside themselves.
“And this championing of an enlightened female energy, is perfectly balanced with her works featuring The Lads, a series of strong, stoical, older Irish men, who appear elemental, wise, roguish and deeply rooted in the landscape, the season and the lore of the land. Clearly, O’Driscoll is aware of the shadow side of this older, patriarchal energy too, but she chooses in her open-souled, warm-hearted way to focus on their essential goodness.
“Although Marie is a Tipperary woman, her travels have opened her up to a weltanschaaung a world view, which enables her to trace these universal themes of liberation and harmony through all cultures. By focusing so minutely on rural Tipperary it allows her expand to see not only the shared humanity and energetic basis that knits together all cultures (from African to Asian), but also all entities (human, floral, insect and mammalian) who currently share space on this precious planet.
“Marie O’Driscoll’s work is celebratory, revelatory and is currently perfectly placed in Cashel Public Library – an ideal venue, as the building rather than being an elite, exclusive white-box, art gallery, represents a storehouse of knowledge, an expansive, welcoming, mind-altering community space which ultimately aims to guide us towards our best and most expansive selves,” concluded Manchán Magan