Interview with John Short By Penny McCormick

The local artist hasn’t let a 2km restriction prevent him from painting watercolours as a daily record of Dalkey, Co Dublin in lockdown …


How did your new online exhibition come about?

I had been working with Solomon Fine Art Gallery on my next biannual solo exhibition planned for this June but that remains on hold, as you can imagine, so I decided to work with what I had and as far as subject matter goes, work on images within my 2km radius. Thus, Dalkey Visual Record in lockdown was born. My work is very immediate and I decided that it would be no problem to do at least one painting a day and, in an attempt to lighten the local mood, I began by posting the daily images on Dalkey Open Forum Facebook page. This had a great response with so many enquiries about the work that Tara Murphy, a Dalkey local and director of Solomon Fine Art Gallery, decided that this live and ongoing project would be ideal for an ever changing online exhibition. The plan is to keep working on this until the current situation in lockdown is relaxed.



How are you coping with social distancing and isolation?

Self-employed artists have no problem with social distancing or indeed isolation, that is the nature of most studio work. Therapeutic, no, but good for my art, yes, as again it’s about responding to circumstances and adapting. Up until now figurative work has been the biggest part of my work but I decided for this series to work on local architecture, seascape and landscape. I have done a lot of that subject matter before so it wasn’t difficult. Just different. I’m lucky that Dalkey has a very varied selection of those elements, though being picturesque, I tried to steer clear of iconic views. It’s the quirky fresh look I’m looking for … that’s the challenge.



Where and how do you work?

On my daily walks around my 2km circuit I make notes and sketchbook drawings of potential targets and take lots and lots of photographs in various light at the most effective times of day. I’m lucky it’s been good weather. Then it’s back in my studio to complete the watercolours. There’s lots of trial and error of course.

Have you been looking at other art online in this period?

Yes, I follow visual artists via Instagram and through a wide international network of friends on Facebook who are all adapting to the changing situation by finding ways, both online and other creative and inventive ways to allow access to their work. Selling original artwork and prints online has been a commercially active scene long before Covid-19 came along and most artists and galleries have good website platforms for selling.


Need to know: For further examples of John Short’s visual diary of Dalkey in lockdown (until May 28) visit The watercolours can also be viewed at Gill Optician’s, St Patrick’s Road, Dalkey, Co Dublin.

May 6, 2020