19th Ave New York, NY 95822, USA

limited edition prints of Martin Finnin

There is no way to describe a person better than to let her describe herself. So here is how Martin Finnin describes himself: 

“I am an Irish artist living and working in Cork. Apart from a stint as an apprentice bee-keeper and a tea boy on many London building sites I have been working as a full-time artist since I had my first show in a gallery in Mexico aged twenty. (I did not make it across the Rio Grande but that’s a story for another day)”

Solo Exhibitions

  • 2012 Dust, Dots and a Day in the Maze, John Martin Gallery, London
  • 2010 49 Ox Hides and a Lump of Faith, John Martin Gallery, London
  • 2009 (Hairy hearts of heroes), Origin Gallery, Dublin
  • 2008 Turn the Lemon Page, Cill Rialig Arts Centre, Ballinskelligs, Kerry
  • 2007 A snippet from the seventh soup, Vangard Gallery, Cork
  • 2006 The world is blue like an orange, New Urban Retreat Gallery, Dublin
  • Stepping out of the stream of time, Printmakers Gallery, Limerick
  • Life beyond the hedge, Cill Rialaig Art Centre, Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry
  • 2005 A miracle outside the window, Form Gallery, London
  • The Marching Hugs, Origin Gallery, Dublin
  • Meanwhile a foreign land, Vangard Gallery, Cork
  • 2003 The origins of optimism, Printmakers Gallery, Limerick
  • Songs of a recluse, Vangard Gallery, Cork
  • In Fall, Ashford Gallery, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin; Printmakers Gallery, Limerick
  • 2002 Vermont Studio Gallery, Vermont
  • 2001 A subtle consolation of existance, Vangard Gallery, Cork
  • The Big Picture, Printmakers Gallery, Limerick
  • 1997 Forest of Banquets, Tig Filí Gallery, Cork
  • 1996 Spionza, Blackcombe Gallery, Cork
  • Triskel Art Centre, Cork
  • 1995 Ivory Tower Restaurant, Cork
  • Jo Rain Gallery, Dublin
  • 1994 Art Hive, Cork
  • 1993 Blackcombe Gallery, Cork
  • Lost Boys Coffee Shop, Harlem, Holland
  • 1991 Everyman Palace, Cork
  • 1990 Iveagh Markets, Dublin
  • 1988 La Galleria Lucierna, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

GROUP EXHIBITIONS

  • 2009 Jack Donovan and Martin Finnin, Printmakers Gallery, Limerick

  • 2008 Killarney Gallery, Killarney, Dublin

  • Art London, John Martin Gallery, London
  • 2007 Colourfields, an driocht, Dublin
  • Art London, John Martin Gallery, London
  • Royal Hibernian Academy (Summer Show)
  • 2006 Cill Rialaig Arts Centre, Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry
  • Tribute to Beckett, Vangard Gallery, Cork
  • 2004-05 The People’s Gallery, Cork
  • 2003 Myth and Magic, Lavit Gallery, Cork
  • 2002 RHA Annual Exhibition, RHA Gallagher
  • 2001 Sligo Art Gallery; Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast
  • Crawford Art Gallery, Cork
  • 2000 Tom Climent, Martin Finnin, Brian Smyth, Lavit Gallery, Cork
  • 1998 Sense of Cork, Crawford Art Gallery, Cork

RESIDENCIES

  • 2009 Dedaldo Art Competition, Tuscany
  • 2008 Cill Rialig Art Centre, Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry (artist’s residency; also 2005, 2006)
  • 2004 Dedaldo Art Competition, Tuscany (also 2005,2006; 1st prize, 2004)
  • Cill Rialaig Art Centre, Ballinskelligs, Co Kerry (artist’s residency; also 2005, 2006)
  • 2002 Vermont Studio Center, USA(painting scholarship)
  • Department of Foreign Affairs (Cultural Relations Committee Award)
  • Vermont Studio Center, USA (fellowship award)
  • 1998 Nominated by Crawford Art Gallery for Glen Dimplex
  • Sense of Cork, Crawford Art Gallery, Cork (prizewinner)
  • 1995 An Chomhairle Ealaion / The Arts Council bursaries (studio rental, 1995, 2001; materials grant, 1997,2001;Artflight, 1996)

THE FOUR CYCLES of CELTIC MYTHOLOGY

MARTIN FINNIN

Reading this material I came to realise that it is almost impossible to simply choose three pieces out of each cycle, so I had to allow the pieces to chose themselves. Each cycle has one large main piece and two smaller pieces

the celtic mythological cycle

It begins with the coming of Cesair, the granddaughter of Noah. Noah would not let her on the boat because she was a bit saucy so she built her own ship and sailed across the sea. The Nemedians, named after their leader Nemed (holy/ sacred) left their land with 34 ships. On their journey they saw a huge golden tower rising out of the sea. Driven by greed, most of the fleet approached the tower. Suddenly a great torrent rose causing the loss of the fleet. Only the chief and his ship survived. This magical tribe arrived with their flying ships on the Irish coast. They were initially unable to land because of an energy field created by another tribe, the Formorians. They had to circle Ireland nine times before they found their way through. Its rumored that they destroyed their own ships upon entry to make a retreat impossible

The Flight Of Fiontain

We start in the mythological cycle, sometimes called The Book of Invasions. It begins with the coming of Cesair, the granddaughter of Noah. Noah would not let her on the boat because she was a bit saucy so she built her own ship and sailed across the sea. She brought 50 women , 3 men and 5 sheep with her . The men were shared out amongst the women. It was their job to populate Ireland, their new country. Two of the men died of exhaustion which left one man, Fiontain to service all the women. He escaped with the women in hot pursuit. Just as the women encircled him, Noah’s floods crashed into Ireland and Fiontain the shape shifter turned into a salmon. He survived the next 5000 years as a stag and an eagle, while all the Cesairians perished.

The Rise and Fall of the Nemidians

The Nemedians, named after their leader Nemed (holy/ sacred) left their land with 34 ships. On their journey they saw a huge golden tower rising out of the sea. Driven by greed, most of the fleet approached the tower. Suddenly a great torrent rose causing the loss of the fleet. Only the chief and his ship survived. They can be seen on the bottom right, witnessing the destruction of their tribesmen. This is the large piece in the mythological cycle.

The arrival Of The Tuatha De Danan

This magical tribe arrived with their flying ships on the Irish coast. They were initially unable to land because of an energy field created by another tribe, the Formorians. They had to circle Ireland nine times before they found their way through. Its rumoured that they destroyed their own ships upon entry to make a retreat impossible.

the Ulster cycle

Cuchulainn is receiving his Gae Bolga (lightning spear) from Scatach, the magic warrior. Cuchulainnn learnt magic and warfare from her. In the painting, they are floating on leaves to show the transfer of knowledge. The Tain. Queen Medb sent Morrigan to kill Cuchulainn. They fought in the river. During the fight Morrigan shifted from a crazy she-wolf to a vicious eel which attacked the hero from behind. He finally kills her in all forms and continues to battle Medb army. Then on the third day Fiar Diad put on a body amour and iron apron as protection against the infamous Gae Bulga. Fiar Diad through his sword which wounded Cuchulainn, burying itself in his side. Cuchulainn threw his Gae Bulga and pierced his friends heart. He stabbed a second time to make sure and it protruded through his body. The only colour here is the blood red of Cuchulainn’s eye and the wound of his friend.

Scatach giving cuchulainn the gae bolga

In this cycle, I just focused on Cuchulainn. In particular on the tain . In this first painting Cuchulainn is receiving his Gae Bolga (lightning spear) from Scatach, the magic warrior. Cuchulainnn learnt magic and warfare from her. In the painting, they are floating on leaves to show the transfer of knowledge. The abstract elongated shapes in the background symbolise magic.

Cuchulainn fighting morrigan the shape shifter

This is a battle scene from the tain. Queen Medb sent Morrigan to kill Cuchulainn. They fought in the river. The magic poles are seen in the background. During the fight Morrigan shifted from a crazy she-wolf to a vicious eel which attacked the hero from behind. He finally kills her in all forms and continues to battle Medb army. This piece is in progress.

Cuchulainn versus Fiar Diad

This is the big painting of the cycle. For me this is the most important battle scene. Fiar Diad and Cuchulainn had been pupils under Scatach and were blood brothers. He did not want to fight Cuchulainn but Medb ridiculed him and told him that everyone would say he is a coward if he did not fight. They too fought in the river where Cuchulainn defeated Morrigan. They treated each-other very well at the end of each day, offering medicines and food. Then on the third day Fiar Diad put on a body amour and iron apron as protection against the infamous Gae Bulga. Fiar Diad through his sword which wounded Cuchulainn, burying itself in his side. Cuchulainn threw his Gae Bulga and pierced his friends heart. He stabbed a second time to make sure and it protruded through his body. The only colour here is the blood red of Cuchulainn’s eye and the wound of his friend.

Fenian cycle

It is about the lovetriangle of Finn McCumhall, Diarmuid and Grainne. This scene is from the pursuit of the young couple by Finn. He knows that Diarmuid and Grainne are in the magic tree. But because the tree is magic he has to entice Diarmuid out. He does so by setting up a game of chess under the tree knowing that Diarmuid is a chess fanatic. Grainne is on the other side trying to stop her lover. Tir na nog It shows Oisin and his lasher travelling across the sea to Tir Na Nog, the Land of the Young The Salmon of Knowledge, Fionn is acquiring the divine knowledge having eaten the salmon of wisdom.

The Fairy Palace of the quicken trees

This is a lovely story. It is about the love- triangle of Finn McCumhall, Diarmuid and Grainne. There is loads to talk about here but to simplify it, this scene is from the pursuit of the young couple by Finn. He knows that Diarmuid and Grainne are in the magic tree. But because the tree is magic he has to entice Diarmuid out. He does so by setting up a game of chess under the tree knowing that Diarmuid is a chess fanatic. During this game between Finn and Oisin, his son, Diarmuid cant help himself and tries to prevent Oisin from making wrong moves by throwing berries. Grainne is on the other side trying to stop her lover.

The travel to Tir na nog

This is the large painting in the cycle, depicting this well known story. The scene shows Oisin and his lasher (forgot the name) travelling across the sea to Tir Na Nog, the Land of the Young which can be seen in the top left corner. The waves are mono- printed with large sheets of glass.

Salmon of knowledge

This is the first study for The Salmon of Knowledge. It might change completely – don’t know yet. Fionn is acquiring the divine knowledge having eaten the salmon of wisdom.

the historical cycle

Mad McSweeny was a high chieftain of Ireland who took offence to a priest building a church nearby. He promptly marched naked into that church and threw the priest and his chalice into a nearby river. The priest put a curse on him, to live naked and die by the point of a spear. McSweeny was called to assist in the battle of a friend that day and in the battle had a breakdown (or breakthrough) he took all his clothes off again and jumped on an enemies shield high up into a tree. McSweeny was a chief, a pagan, a hermit, wedded to the birds, the trees and the stars in the sky. He imagined that he was a bird and that he could fly around Ireland. He is nested in the treetop, staring at the stars. The towers of eyes on each side are a symbol of the paranoia he might have suffered. The Death of McSweeny. McSweeny came down from the trees for a little while and a man called Moling took pity on him. He asked his cook to give him a bowl of milk every day. The cook’s sister in law told the cook’s husband that she saw McSweeny giving the cook the glad eye and in a fit of jealousy the cook’s husband threw a spear at McSweeny as he was drinking the milk. It went through his heart and killed him. In this painting I would like the spirit of McSweeny to soar up into the sky like a bird.

Flying from the Battle field

What I need to say about this cycle is that I decide to focus on one character only because I think he has enormous importance to Irish arts – the one and only mad McSweeny. A very quick outline: He was a high chieftain of Ireland who took offence to a priest building a church nearby. He promptly marched naked into that church and threw the priest and his chalice into a nearby river. The priest put a curse on him, to live naked and die by the point of a spear. McSweeny was called to assist in the battle of a friend that day and in the battle had a breakdown (or breakthrough) he took all his clothes off again and jumped on an enemies shield high up into a tree. He lived high in the sky, roaming Ireland from tree to tree.

A Vision of the Birdman

This is the main piece of the cycle. As yet unfinished. McSweeny was a chief, a pagan, a hermit, wedded to the birds, the trees and the stars in the sky. He imagined that he was a bird and that he could fly around Ireland. He was Irelands lunatic poet king and many poems are attributed to him. Sheamus Heaney has translated various poems attributed to McSweeny. In this scene he is nested in the treetop, staring at the stars. The towers of eyes on each side are a symbol of the paranoia he might have sufered.His story invites a lot of discussion around the fine line between madness, genius and how either is defined by society. It also reminded me of W. Blake, the 18th century printmaker and alchemist who lived in a tree in his back-garden.

The death of McSweeny

This is a study of The Death of McSweeny. McSweeny came down from the trees for a little while and a man called Moling took pity on him. He asked his cook to give him a bowl of milk every day. Like a wild cat he used to come down and drink the milk. The cook’s sister in law told the cook’s husband that she saw McSweeny giving the cook the glad eye and in a fit of jealousy the cook’s husband threw a spear at McSweeny as he was drinking the milk. It went through his heart and killed him. In this painting I would like the spirit of McSweeny to soar up into the sky like a bird.