I am a Dublin Watercolourist. I specialize in watercolor paintings, which take their themes and titles from the wanderings and writings of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and other Literary and Historical personalities. This has come from a lifelong interest in attempting to interpret in paintings what James Joyce et al., so eloquently wrote about our native city, Dublin.
Biography: Dublin watercolourist illuminates the joy of Joyce! By Peter Hughes, The Northern Standard Newspaper, 15/05/2003. The devotion of Dublin watercolourist Roger Cummiskey to illuminating the life-affirming themes that stand out vividly in the writings and personal history of James Joyce has resulted in a striking assemblage of paintings which can be enjoyed to their fullest advantage in the gallery of Monaghan Co Museum at present. The exhibition "A Stroll Thro' Ulysses", a new collection of watercolours which Cummiskey has assembled on Joycean themes, remains on show until May 30 at the Museum at Monaghan Town's Hill Street. Town of Monaghan Co-op Chief Executive Vincent Gilhawley performed the official opening of the exhibition on Thursday last. Such occasions can carry their share of loneliness and trepidation for the visiting artist, but Roger and wife Dolores were protected from such hazards by a warm phalanx of the friends they have forged in Monaghan in recent years through Roger's association with the Rossmore Golf Club. The fund-raising campaign three years ago to assist young Ballinode fire injury victim Mark Monahan received the considerable boost of a donation by Roger of one of his Joyce-inspired works, which was auctioned and raised substantial funds for that cause. Cummiskey's impressive work seeks to celebrate some of the preoccupations of the writer who penned in Ulysses what is arguably both the most influential and the most intimidating novel produced by an Irish writer. The psychological depths of Joyce's characterisations are explored in paintings reflective of the texts of Ulysses and Dubliners in the main, but the powerful pillars in the books of women and drink are accorded a due and pleasing prominence. The artist is obviously a Joyce zealot, but he doesn't climb into a pulpit in his attempts to convert us. Indeed, speaking at last Thursday's official opening, Cummiskey seemed keen to sweep away the off-putting influence of Joyce's huge reputation. Many, indeed, would have been nodding in sympathy with Vincent Gilhawley when he confessed to getting as far as Page Two of Ulysses when he attempted the book as a 20-year-old. "I left Leopold Bloom to carry on his voyage of discovery without me at that stage," Mr. Gilhawley said. "I realised it may have been the greatest book of the century, but I reverted back to Spike Milligan. For me it was a stagger through "Puckoon" rather than a "Stroll Thro' Ulysses"!" A GOOD STORY But to Roger Cummiskey, while Joyce in general and Ulysses in particular is "a bit mystifying when you start off", he described Ulysses at its heart as being "a lovely story about three people: an ordinary salesman selling advertising copy for The Freeman's Journal, his wife Molly Bloom who is having an affair with Blazes Boylan, and Stephen Dedalus who is in effect the young James Joyce." He added: "The story is basic and simple, and a good one." All three protagonists themselves stroll through this exhibition as prominently as their creator. Molly is particularly vividly manifest: in "Waiting For Blazes", she is depicted nude letting the varnish dry on the nails of her extended fingers, the pose at once delicate and predatory. We also see her as a young girl in Gibraltar, where "I knew more about men when I was 15 than they'll all know at 50." We see Stephen Dedalus magnificently minuscule, striding the eternity of Sandymount Strand. Leopold Bloom wanders the same landscape, and is seen in reproduction of a caricature by Joyce himself. And the author is everywhere, dandified here, despairing there, rendered in abstract and "pop art" and caught superbly in one heart-rending portrait, at a low ebb in Trieste. "Ulysses the book celebrates probably the most famous first date ever in the world," Roger Cummiskey stated, relating the narrative to the formative days of the relationship between Joyce and Nora Barnacle. "James Joyce at 22 years old was a very bright young man walking around town in Dublin with a sailor hat that he had acquired, and a pair of runners which at the time were very avant garde. He had electric blue eyes. "When he saw a woman with auburn hair on the street he went up to her and asked her for a date and she agreed. But Nora then went back to Finn's Hotel where she worked as a chambermaid and had second thoughts and didn't turn up. "Joyce wrote her a note stating that he would like to meet her, which he eventually did on Thursday, June 16, 1904, which is the day on which Joyce built the whole book of Ulysses." GENIUS IN HIS TIME Joyce was a genius IN his time, not before his time, the artist emphasised. In looking ahead to the centenary next year of the date on which the events of Ulysses unfold, Mr. Cummiskey said it would be celebrated all over the world, "from Melbourne to Miami, Alaska to Australia." He acknowledged the existence of a Joyce industry, recommending visits to the Joyce Centre in North Great George's Street and the Martello Tower at Sandycove. "I am only the painter," he said modestly, attributing the power of the images around him to the still compulsive allure exercised by the restless, pathfinding writer whom he refers to in a poem incorporated in several watercolours as "James Jaysas Joyce". But acceptance of this statement would be to unfairly diminish the vivid and often elucidatory interpretations that comprise this exhibition, and the way in which it celebrates the territory of Ulysses and the physical and intellectual landscape James Joyce stalked like his alter ego Dedalus, walking into eternity.... GRATEFUL Vincent Gilhawley expressed the view on Thursday night that Monaghan should be grateful to Roger Cummiskey for bringing his exhibition of paintings to Monaghan. "The writings of Joyce are rather deep and he has translated these into accessible watercolour pictures," he stated. "Roger reflects in his paintings what Joyce so eloquently wrote." Mr Gilhawley pointed to an interesting Co Monaghan connection with the inaugural Bloomsday celebrations in Dublin in 1958, when Patrick Kavanagh was one of the five literary figures who performed the re-enactment of Leopold Bloom's journey. "We are privileged that we can stroll through Roger's paintings in the excellently appointed Museum. Roger is a regular visitor to Monaghan - he has been coming here for many years and has made many friends and acquaintances here." Mr Gilhawley said he had come to know Roger when he (speaker) was Captain of Rossmore Golf Club. The members of the club thought of Roger as a wonderful raconteur and someone with a wonderful sense of humour and an excellent outlook on life. In expressions of gratitude on Thursday night, Mr Cummiskey thanked Monaghan Co Museum Exhibitions Officer Liam Bradley and the museum staff for their beautiful presentation of the exhibition. "You can be very proud of your Co Museum and I hope you all support it well into the future," he stated. Thanking Mr Gilhawley for performing the official opening, Mr Cummiskey noted that Vincent had recently been appointed a Director of An Bord B?inne and congratulated him on that. The artist also thanked his wife Dolores for the support she gave him in putting the exhibition together. Roger has been invited to exhibit at the Florence Biennial in December 2003. In this endeavour he is being supported by IRISHOP.com Participation in the Biennale is by nomination only Biennale Internazionale dell'Arte Contemporanea, Florence, Italy.Fortezza da Basso; 6 - 14 December 2003
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