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September 24, 2012 / catherinebwrites


We have one of Patrick O’Connor’s pictures hanging over our mantlepiece. It is Icarus in his winged harness. Some people love it, some find it scary, some hate it, some find it downright peculiar but we have had pleasure from it every single day. That’s the sign of a good painting.

I’ve always known that Patrick was a great artist but, it was  only when he asked me to edit  his biography that I really knew why he was so good. The biography  was  published in the magnificent catalogue that  accompanied his major exhibition last August.

A friend had done the hard work of digging out dates and putting his the information in chronological order. But it needed editing and clarification. So Patrick came to my house and we worked on it together. I’d read a paragraph, asked, what do you want to say here? He’d talk about it. I’d suggest a way of phrasing it, he’d agree or suggest changes and so we worked on for several hours.

It was a thrilling experience, first, because it is always a thrill to work with somebody with whom you can be straight, who doesn’t let their ego get in the way, who recognises their own strengths and yours so you get the job done with maximum efficiency.  That was when I fully appreciated Patrick’s sly, subtle, subversive sense of  humour.   That was when I realised why his studio was always so neat.  Many artists take the fact that they are artists  as an excuse to be chaotic.   But Patrick had respect for his tools and for the craft the artist needs to develop in order to make best use of those tools.

As the edit progressed I  realised that Patrick  was not only a man with a vision but a man with a breath of vision.   Now understood why his students adored him.  He had a passion for opening their minds, for broadening their horizons for  encouraging them to develop their own particular visions. He was an inspiration to those who were prepared to open their heads.   And he must hae been a nightmare to those who shelter behind rigid dogmas.

When we had finished the edit I felt enthused, enlightened and validated.   It was a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with him.   Long may he be remembered.


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