‘Tracing the Lines’: Exhibition of Sketches Inspired by ‘If Ever You Go’


I’ve been along to see an interesting exhibition at the RIAI Architecture Centre in Merrion Square, which consists of sketches inspired by the poetry collection If Ever You Should Go: A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song which was this year’s ‘One City One Book’ choice. I missed the launch, which was on Tuesday evening with co-editor Pat Boran and contributors Catherine Ann Cullen, Nessa O’Mahony and Mark Granier reading from the anthology.

There are thirty-nine black and white drawings by architect Sean Dorman, who literally got on his bike (well, to be more accurate a Dublin bike) during April, and visited many of the city locations mentioned in the poems in the anthology. Each of Dorman’s dated sketches incorporates a section of a historical Dublin street map (for example John Rocque’s 1756 street map), echoing the map theme from the book and lines from the relevant poem. Dorman was quoted as saying that ‘I found this project to be an exciting and illuminating experience as it connected me with two greats: our poets and our town’.

Sean Dorman began appropriately enough, with Patrick Kavanagh, sketching his statue from behind so that we can see Kavanagh’s view of the Grand Canal. Beyond that is a map of the network of local streets that he would have known, ‘If ever you go down to Dublin town/In a hundred years or so/Inquire for me in Baggot Street/And what I was like to know.’

Perhaps not surprisingly my favourite sketches/poems combinations were of the places that meant the most to me such as ‘The Dartry Dye Works’ by Fergus Allen and ‘The New Luas Bridge in Dundrum’ by Iggy McGovern both of which are near to my patch of Dublin. Another of my favourites was the sketch inspired by Catherine Ann Cullen’s poem ‘Meeting at the Chester Beatty’. Dorman’s intricately detailed sketch manages to do justice both to the treasure-house that is the Chester Beatty Library and to the text of Cullen’s poem, ‘Silkworms who shot threads like tiny roads/Were miniature cartographers of glory/For emperors who mapped their own silk routes…’

The exhibition is due to close at 5pm on Friday so do squeeze in a visit if you can. It would be a nice lunchtime trip if you’re in the area. If you haven’t yet either bought or borrowed a copy of If Ever You Go then these sketches might just inspire you to do so, it’s well worth a read. I think that any Dubliner can be sure of finding something that has some meaning.

For further information: http://www.dorman.ie or http://www.riai.ie


If Ever You Go edited by Pat Boran and Gerard Smyth, published by Dedalus Press in 2014.

Image courtesy of riai.ie


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