| Exhibition

Philip Moss – Unseen (Gallery 1)

Saturday June 25, 2022
Unseen by Philip Moss
Show Date & Time:
Saturday June 25, 12:00am
Official Opening:
Saturday July 23, 3:00pm
Opening Times & Special Info:
Earagail Arts Festival Exhibition Party on Saturday 23rd July, 3pm.
All welcome

Philip Moss presents a large-scale exhibition of new and recent work, representing a range of inspiration that has impacted his work to date.
When Moss was a child, he spent two and a half years in hospital. He was four when he went in, and six and a half when he came out. Fifty-five years later, he is making the most personal work of his life, and he has gone back to the trauma of that formative experience.

Moss has lived in Donegal for over 30 years, having moved from London where he worked with Auerbach, Bacon and Freud. His art practice has an edge, both social and political, sometimes this is subtle, often more direct. His paintings have been described as being ‘tinged with a rare, almost spiritual quality.’ For him, action and painting are one in the same – they are purely matters of conscience.

Curated by Jeremy Fitz Howard.
Exhibition essay by Cristín Leach and textual responses by Emily Cooper.

Words on Canvas by Cristín Leach is available to read on RTÉ Culture

Exhibition Response (Extract)
by Emily Cooper


There is a pleasure in writing about art that wears its influences on its sleeves. Viewing Philip Moss’s work is not a simple experience; there are threads to pull on, curtains to pull back, and ideas, often tricky, to wrestle with. In writing these poems, I spent time reading around the paintings. I watched youtube videos of artists’ studios, read interviews with their assistants, and searched artworks referenced overtly and discreetly. I was also very lucky to have Moss himself to hand, always happy to point out what something is or to elaborate on his process, something rare and exciting to have access to. What I have written does not explain the work, rather it is the product of being introduced to the possibilities of the paintings and what they led me to on a particular day. It is wonderful to think that had I encountered them at a separate time, another year or season, I might have written something completely different. I hope that through viewing the exhibition, either in person or through this publication, and meeting the corresponding poems, you might find something you can approach again and again with fresh eyes and ears.

Orthopaedic Hospital – Philip Moss

House by the Railroad (Edward Hooper)
Ed is sitting in the front room with his feet on top of the coal stove. He has just had a fight with Jo about going down the three flights of stairs to get more fuel and she has locked herself in the kitchen. She is making beef stew from a can. He is fucking sick of beef stew from a can. He begins to think about balustrades. The symmetry of rows and rows of columns holding something up. He scratches lines into the arm of the armchair, scoring the faux leather, strikes them through.

Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock)
Alfred Hitchcock is sitting by the pool. Someone has folded up the day’s newspapers on the table, the ink looks wet in the sunlight. He doesn’t want to dirty his white dressing gown. He has tied it tight below his belly, the sour sweat of last night’s champagne has touched the cotton but is eclipsed by the clean smell of washing powder. His eggs arrive and he sets down his coffee. A small dog barks somewhere inside.
Psychobarn (Cornelia Parker)
Cornelia is speeding past the prison on her way to the supermarket. She notices the cracks in the prison wall and resolves to come back and photograph them on another day. On her way around the aisles she thinks about barns, big and red, dropped almost at random in the American countryside. She thinks again about the danger of lead poisoning, looks down at her hands on the trolly and notices the splits around her fingernails, rags. On her way home from the supermarket she forgets about the cracks on the prison wall, instead counting how many of the postwar houses have applied new conservatories around the front door. Fortresses, or not quite.
Title (Philip Moss)
Philip is on the phone with his son. He walks around the back of the house where the reception is better and looks through the window of his studio. Inside the paintings are stacked up against the walls. He tells his son about an idea he has for a texture, the type of paint he needs to find. He asks what his son will have for dinner, they are eating late tonight because they ran out of butter and Sara has had to nip to the shop. Thank god for the late evenings, and the excess of light. He needs to say goodbye quickly as he’s heard tyres on the drive, walks around the front to help.

This Poem (Emily Cooper)
Sitting at the table in the upstairs living room, Emily is calling down to her boyfriend in the kitchen to make her a gin fizz. She is almost finished a project and she doesn’t want to stop. The table is covered in a bedsheet and cluttered by books she has only momentarily flicked through; books on artists and literary journals that she has skipped through only to read the work by people she knows. She thinks about dumping the dead flowers on the mantlepiece, but knows she will leave them for another day. Her gin fizz arrives and she drinks it quickly as she types, ready to be finished if she can manage it tonight
Hip Bone – Philip Moss

Flesh and Bones
Underneath the many layers
Cutaneous, subcutaneous
The striations of muscles
From below the cold yellow fat
Emerge the bones
A bone can be a statue
Not so far away from marble
As to deny a relationship
A kinship of mineralisation
Slow cousins of deposition
When you look at a body
Do you see the skeleton
In the way that a sculptor
Sees the sculpture in the rock
A pygmalion nod?
It was only after many years
Of myth making that Galatea
Got her name. Born from stone
Milky white and already
Submissive, ready to love
The softness of flesh
Alerts us to the possibilities
Of rot. The smell of death
It multifarious. Sometimes
Sweet, sometimes not
Only in a body that is
Pared back by wounds
Or openings, perhaps a widened
Jaw, can we glimpse white –
An alabastor of permanence

Étant Donnés – Philip Moss

Learn to Sew

On admiring the curtains in my friend’s mother’s house
she explained that these were her inheritance.
Chests of fabric saved over years. Accumulated
from Liberty sales and long closed haberdasheries.
Each curtain had been constructed by hand and machine.
Ticking thick and weights, double lined for privacy.
It is such a luxury, we all concur, to shut out the world,
to draw them closed, black out the light momentarily.

Solitude is so very difficult to hold onto. Perhaps
if I were to start it all again I would begin here, with the fabric
on my lap, pinch and sew until I have a cover to cover it all
from ceiling to floor, puddles of linen, velvet, printed cotton.
Had we never tried to peek, we wouldn’t have seen Maria Martin,
headless and holding up Teeny’s arm.

Cremnitz White – Philip Moss

I read that Lucian Freud wore a cravat in bed
David Dawson is searching Brick Lane for cotton sheets.
Each one starched and bleached and starched and bleached
of their fluids and stains, hotel guests rubbing themselves
free of macassar and perfume. Special lotions bought
in boutiques to wear on their yearly trip up to London.
Dawson has brought them back to the flat, stuffed deep
into black bin bags. Every morning Lucian pulls a length out
rips it to size, the threads splitting, nip nip nip
only to catch on the thickened edge. He tucks
his selection into his trousers and begins to paint.
Each day before the sitter arrives, after boiling the coffee
in the studio kitchenette, Dawson counts the tubes.
The cupboard is a cornucopia of paint, replenished
silently in shades that can be found on native British birds
cremnitz white procured ashen-faced and underhand.
How close to death does one need to be to wear a shroud?
I think of Penelope at the loom, weaving by day, picking
by night. Lying down is an act of submission, rage rage –
at the end of each day Lucian would drop the apron
to the ground forming waves of memories, a cotton tide.


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