House Divided: Belfast
I painted this painting after spending a couple of months working on a documentary in Belfast Northern Ireland . During that time( late 90’s) , there was a ‘Cease Fire’ and we were able to travel between the Catholic side ( the Falls Road) of the ‘Peace Line’ ( a wall with sentry positions at each crossing) and the Protestant side ( The Shankill Road). While we were there, the talk within the community was of the fragile peace process. This has proved to be prophetic. However, during my visit, I saw mural paintings on the ends of the gabled housing projects in both the Catholic and Protestant areas. These murals expressed the real feeling of each community and they were very violent. You will also see the Peace Line ( which is a sentry post along with a very high wall) and an English Saracen truck. My painting has murals from both communities and gives the viewer some idea of the true feelings in Northern Ireland.
This undercurrent of hate and fear in Belfast, Northern Ireland was and is not unique. It also has always been in the United States. It was just smothered until someone who decided that one way to make himself known allowed this festering hate for diversity and race to filter up into our lives. It was something we all thought had been left to history, however, clearly that is not the case and it has always been just under the surface. It is frightening to see in our country a place where we always thought was advanced in its beliefs and thought, now has become an unimaginable place of hate, fear, and anger.
It is now 2017, and I look at this painting and realize how little has changedtoday in the United States.
Edith Wharton's The Mount, Lenox, Massachusetts
“Wharton’s niece, Beatrix Jones Farrand, was just starting her illustrious career as a garden designer when Edith Wharton created The Mount’s gardens and contributed drawings of an extensive kitchen garden.
The sunken Italian Garden uses serene tones of greens and whites which, combined with porticos and alcoves in the stone walls, creates a cool, shady respite from summer sun. The centerpiece of this garden is a rustic rock-pile fountain surrounded by white begonias.
A gravel promenade of pleached linden trees, known as a Lime Walk, connects the Italian Garden to the more formal French Flower Garden. The French Flower Garden’s rectangular pool is surrounded by beds of annuals, perennials and shrubs creating vivid but orderly burst of colors. Wharton loved phlox, stocks, lilies, hydrangea, dianthus, delphinium, and dahlias, all of which still grace the flower beds.
The gardens also include a Rock Garden complete with molded Grass Steps cut into a sloping hill, a landscape feature rarely seen in America.”
I painted these two paintings to show the environmental changes that occurred at The Mount's gardens, designed by her niece Beatrix Jones Farrand in 1905. In the mid 2000’s, this garden was restored back to its original design.
– Olwen Dowling