Crawford Art Gallerypermanent collection

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c. 1977
Irish School
oil on canvas
61 x 60.8cm


Acquired 1977
Cooke's art is inspired by the quotation from Heraclitus: 'All existence flows in the stream of creation and passing away.' Living on an island swept by rain clouds and traversed by rivers, the artist has focused this philosophical meditation on the Irish landscape and on the sport of fishing, these recurring elements in Irish legend and mythology.

Fishing, and the right to fish, has played an important symbolic and economic role in Ireland since prehistory; never more so than in recent years, with legislative efforts to limit the traditional freedoms and rights enjoyed by trout fishermen, environmental debates prompted by salmon farming, and the moves to open Ireland's coastal waters to European trawler fleets.


Barrie Cooke
Irish School

Barrie Cooke has lived for so many years in Ireland, his work becoming intimately associated with this country, that it is easy to forget he was born in Cheshire, with his childhood being spent in England, the United States, Jamaica and Bermuda. An early enthusiasm for marine biology led Cooke to Harvard University, but shortly after enrolling, he switched to art history.

He studied art at Skowhegan in Mainie and exhibited in Boston in the 1950s, before deciding to settle in Ireland, in a small cottage at the edge of the Burren in county Clare. Since then, Cooke has immersed himself in the landscapes of Ireland and has lived in Kilkenny and Sligo. He is a keen fisherman and naturalist.