Narrating the New Normal, Birr 2020

Artist: Sheena Meagher
Title: Library Opening Hours; 24/7 for Ghosts of Pandemics Past
Year: 2008 - 2018
Width/Height/Depth/Cms/ 76cms x 123cms x n/a
Medium: Chinese inks and 25 ct. gold leaf on stretched canvas
Genre: Painting
The story behind the painting;
As part of a series of views of Trinity College I created a painting of one of the wrought iron spiral stairs in the Long Room. Some time into painting I was happy with the stairs, the bookshelves and gleaming tomes. I raised my paintbrush to bring in the figure of a Librarian on the stairs when my studio door suddenly burst open. I screamed in fright. My brush did a wobble connecting with the canvas. I calmed my dog (who had just come in for a drink of water) and turned to the painting.
There, standing on the spiral stairs was a ghostly figure, not descending the stairs but calmly reaching over the handrail towards the shelves for a book. The feeling of fright was so authentic I left it exactly as it appeared. You can just make it out at top left, under the word 'Bibliotheca'.
During lockdown I wondered if Trinity College ghosts had taken full possession of campus. Had the corridors, lecture theatres, libraries, squares, the campus playing fields ever been so empty of people for such a long period? Or were the ghosts of bygone Trinity folk roaming the grounds with the Trinity Fox and occupying seats vacated by the living? And if so, will they continue to emerge into the less populated spaces?
In 2018 I gilded the work with 25 ct. gold leaf.

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