Behind me, ahead of me

It is something I’ve been reading on almost every blog and column in the past few weeks and something I’m afraid I too will have to write as I can only concur with it: writing ‘best-of’ or just ‘end-of’ year reviews becomes a sort of a race against time as who wouldn’t feel silly writing such a thing, let’s say, in March?

For the past two years I’ve looked back on the year that was ‘in art’, that is to say listing the places and the art exhibitions visited, but this time I feel I can’t leave out a couple of events that made the year truly memorable, such as my travelling to Italy in January to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday, and the guided tour of Castletown House I had the honour of giving in February to Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella and First Lady Laura Mattarella. Before the arrival of the second ‘Beast from the East’ that (again) blanketed Ireland in snow in March, I travelled to Madrid. I carried with me a film camera - the Horizon - I hadn’t used for a while, but managed to ruin the roll the moment I tried to rewind it.

In April I went for a long overdue hospital procedure and subsequently spent two weeks at home recovering and de-cluttering. Apart from filling bags with clothes and books for my local charity shop, I also went through a couple of bottomless drawers and recycled expired medicines and old pairs of glasses. Yeah, I am in the same league as Marie Kondo. As if that wasn’t enough, I de-cluttered my social life too and deleted almost all my social media accounts. I’d been thinking of doing that for a while as I had the inkling I could become more focused and productive, and I was right.

After visiting Emil Nolde: Colour is Life at the National Gallery of Ireland, I drafted a review. I wrote down my thoughts about almost all the exhibitions I visited last year, but never managed to edit and publish those reviews in-the-making on this blog. Somewhere on this laptop is a document with all those notes and I really should use them to stretch my writing skill. Still in declutter mode, I sold a couple of cameras I wasn't using anymore (the Canon EOS 550D and the Lomography Belair X 6-12 City Slicker) and bought a Fujifilm X100F. This is the camera I carried with me when at the end of June, to celebrate our first twenty years together, my husband and I spent a weekend in Northern Ireland. It was the beginning of a heatwave that seems lasted forever, and we re-visited Mount Stewart, had dinner and spent the night in Bangor and visited Castle Ward on our way back home. In July, longing as usual for art, I flew to London on one of my days off and visited Thomas Cole: Eden to Empire at the National Gallery and Rodin and the art of ancient Greece at the British Museum. July was made memorable also by a visit to Exhibiting Art in Georgian Ireland at the Irish Georgian Society and a week sailing course along the stunning coast of Southern Ireland. August went by waiting (im)patiently for the masons to finish the redecoration of our family bathroom, and re-organising bookcases and bookshelves. But wait, there’s more: I managed to see Roderic O’Conor and the Moderns. Between Paris and Pont-Aven at the NGI.

In September, I spent four days in heaven: two days in the Museo del Prado in Madrid (where I also visited the exhibition Lorenzo Lotto. Portraits, which I was thinking of seeing in London in October) and two days in Versailles. The rest of the time was spent reading about portraiture and viceroys as I was preparing a specialised tour titled Power Portraits.

At the end of November, I travelled to London for a two-day conference on Portraiture and Biography at the National Portrait Gallery. Although I truly enjoyed the first day of talks and the after-hours visit to the excellent Gainsborough’s Family Album exhibition, I didn’t go back the second day but instead, after an unforgettable breakfast in NOPI, popped into the Royal Academy to check its renovation and see their interesting The Making of an Artist exhibition. A truly feast for the eyes was also the Joshua Reynolds: The Creation of Celebrity exhibition at the Tate Britain. I also managed to lose two mobiles in the space of only ten days! The first one ‘leaped’ from my pocket into the toilet, whereas the second went missing thanks to the son of a ‘generous’ woman who picked my pocket. Because it was my phone for less than ten days, this second one is now known as the ‘rebound phone’. Finally, December was the usual mayhem of parties, gatherings, packing, flying to Italy, gatherings, parties, packing again and flying back.


One last thing I can’t help mentioning here is that from May to September I went running three times per week early (very early) in the morning. I took the photo above during one of those runs in July. Yep, 2018 proved to be memorable indeed!