Seamus Heaney and Visual Art

Painting, sculpture and architecture play a central role in Seamus Heaney’s poetry. For him, the silent, mysterious, irreducible work of art can act as an entry-point into the subterranean realms of memory. Visual art can enable, in Heaney’s phrase about writing, ‘a revelation of the self to the self’, and act as a prompt for in-between states, second thoughts and the illuminations that can arise out of fundamental uncertainty.

This free webinar funded by the Irish Research Council New Foundations Scheme brings together an international group of scholars and admirers of Heaney's work, who will discuss the role played in his poetry by architecture, classical sculpture, and the modern artists Carolyn Mulholland, Richard Long, Edward McGuire and Barrie Cooke. In doing this, they will uncover the criss-crossing conversations and confluences between the arts that Heaney's poems contain. In six short talks and a Q&A / discussion, the profound influence of the visual arts on the character and development of Heaney’s poetry will be explored and illuminated.


Adam Hanna (University College Cork) - Welcome / Discussion of The Glucksman Gallery, Cork (Sheila O'Donnell and John Tuomey) and 'Lightenings, viii' (Seeing Things, 1991)

Catherine Heaney (Director, Estate of Seamus Heaney) on 'Poet's Chair' (The Spirit Level, 1996) / The Poet's Chair, Carolyn Mulholland

Charles Armstrong (Agder University) on 'Grauballe Man' (North, 1975) / The Dying Gaul

Rosie Lavan (Trinity College Dublin) on 'The Mud Vision' (The Haw Lantern, 1987) / Mud Hand Circle, Richard Long 

Declan Long (National College of Art and Design) on 'Vitruviana' (Electric Light, 2001) / Vitruvian Man, Leonardo Da Vinci, Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata, Giotto, and the art of Felim Egan. 

Geraldine Higgins (Emory University) on 'A Basket of Chestnuts' (Seeing Things 1991) / Portrait of Heaney, Edward McGuire 

Mark Wormald (Pembroke College, Cambridge University) on 'Saw Music' (District and Circle, 2006) / Orange Godbeam, Barrie Cooke

Free. Registration required.

Funded by the Irish Research Council New Foundations Scheme