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Professor Michael A Hayes pictured with Clare artist, Nóirín Williams Mooney and her husband, the poet, Brian Mooney, on the presentation of the Batik collection, Story of a Life, to Mary Immaculate College.

Nóirín’s generous gift of art

CLARE-based artist, Nóirín Williams Mooney has recently gifted a collection of 14 batik paintings on the life of Christ to Mary Immaculate College (MIC) in Limerick.

Professor Michael A Hayes, president of Mary Immaculate College (MIC), accepted the collection of paintings, entitled Story of a Life, on behalf of the college.

Nóirín Williams Mooney was born in County Galway but has spent most of her growing and working life in County Clare. Having graduated from Galway University, she went on to take her ATC degree under McEvoy and Mannering at the College of Art in Limerick. She taught in Scoil Carmel, before becoming lecturer of art in Mary Immaculate College in Limerick. During these years, she held two joint exhibitions with Eileen Egan and participated individually in several Irish Winter Artists’ Exhibitions.

In 1969, she married the poet, Brian Mooney, and together they moved to the Burren in County Clare, where they ran the Vincent Perfumery.
The poet, John O’Donohue said of her paintings of the Burren, “It is a landscape of a huge kind of memory and that makes for its presence. As humans, we find it very hard to enter the mind of landscapes and that’s the miracle, I think, of what a painter like Noírín Mooney does, people attend…and gradually find shapes and forms and sequences which open it up in a completely new kind of way.”

Her work came to the attention of Professor Bob O’Driscoll, who invited her to participate in what has since become his legendary Celtic Consciousness Symposium in the University of Toronto in 1979. She spent over two years preparing 14 massive batiks on the theme of the Irish epic, The Táin, for this symposium. They were to dominate the event and now hang permanently in Canada.

Prior to the death of her youngest son, Brecan, in November 2009, Nóirín had begun to work on a series of batik paintings on the life of Christ.
“Illustrated depictions of birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are often overly sombre. I think the good news should lend itself to a more joyous expression, using the medium of batik painting,” Nóirín said.

Brecan’s death gave the work a new impetus. The 14 pieces in Story of a Life cover some of the main events, parables and miracles in Christ’s life. Nóirín created this series of batiks during a time of deep reflection and they took two years to complete.

Batik is the name given to the ancient art of decorating cloth using wax and dye. The applied wax resists dyes allowing the artist to colour selectively by soaking the cloth in one colour, removing the wax with boiling water, and repeating when multiple colours are desired. The word batik originates from the Javanese ‘tik’ and means ‘to dot’.

Mary Immaculate College will exhibit the works in December, as part of the MIC autumn/winter programme for the Limerick City of Culture 2014. They will then become part of the permanent art collection of the college.

Carol Byrne

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