Glendalough Reflections, ©2014 John O’Grady,
16″x 16″, oil on Panel


Back in October 2012, I made a small painting of the lower lake of Glendalough, from the Irish Gleann Dá Loch “Valley of the Two Lakes” in county Wicklow.

Today’s painting is a second view, this time of the upper lake where Kevin, a monk seeking solitude arrived in the early 6th century. Anyone who has been there can appreciate why he chose to stay and why it became a major monastic site whose churches and ruins you can still see today.

I have heard many people say that it is their favourite place to be, that it has something special beyond its natural beauty and religious connections and I tend to agree with them.

This ineffable quality may be in some part to do with the lakes that are on certain days, so still the water acts as a mirror reflecting the corporeal world above.

The apparent symmetry of the mirror image offers us equilibrium, an all too rare moment in a world of flux.

Perhaps this is what Kevin first saw all those centuries ago: stability, symmetry and harmony.

Perhaps we unconsciously seek these things or we are naturally inclined to notice balanced proportions when focusing on something.

My painting “Clouds in the River Rhône” has a similar quality and composition.

When painting today’s piece, I used more saturated colour and a cooler palette which tells of the spirit of the place. I found though, that the clouds reflected in the lake have more movement than clouds I would normally depict above an horizon line. I wonder why that’s the case.

Do you get that sense too?

I’d love to hear what you think.