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5th April 2009
The Paintings of AE
by Mike Scott

Last Week I posted the lyric, by JM Synge, of the recent Waterboys recording The Passing Of The Shee, here but I left out the note, inserted by Synge, that he'd written the words after looking at a painting by AE.

AE was the pen name of George Russell (1867-1935), a writer, poet, activist and painter who lived in Dublin and was a friend of WB Yeats, Synge, Lady Gregory and all the other figures of the Irish/Celtic literary and artistic renaissance. Several of you who tracked down the lyric in Synge's poetry book have helped me try and discover which of AE's works it was inspired by. We haven't found out yet, but a wonderful side benefit of the research has been the exposure to the paintings of AE, many of which can be found as jpegs on the internet.

For AE wasn't just a writer and artist, he was a mystic, and this is represented in his work. He saw other dimensions of reality, and the inhabitants of these realms. And he brought back these visions in the form of his paintings so we can see them too. Sometimes the visions were of plumed and luminous spirit beings, but even when AE was painting simple earthly scenes, for example children dancing or paddling in the sea or workers resting against a country wall, he framed them in a mystical light, as if he was looking at this world through the veils of another.

I find his paintings beautiful and evocative, and they touch me on a soul level. Yesterday I posted a number of them on my twitter photos page and judging by the response, a lot of other people feel the same way. Maybe you will too. You can view them here.