Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Raymond Piper

When I attended primary school in Rockfield NS, Coolaney one of the books in the library was This is Ireland: Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon by Richard Hayward, published by Arthur Baker Ltd., London 1955 which contained a drawing of the old disused bridge below Coolaney which had trees growing on it. When later I compiled a book on the local history of the area I decided to use that drawing for the cover. I tried to contact the artist Raymond Piper but failed.

Now in this month's issue of Poetry Ireland I see a poem by Michael Longley in memory of the same Raymond Piper. A quick internet search tells me that Raymond Piper died in Belfast at the age of 84 in 2007. He was renowned as a portrait painter but was also well known for his botanical paintings especially of orchids and book illustrations. Longley's poem is entitled Cloud Orchid - "Ours was a language of flowers".

A belated thank you to Raymond Piper for his illustration of Coolaney Bridge. Obituary from Northern Ireland Arts Council here and from the Guardian here. PDF of the my history book available here.


BarbaraS said...

That's a great story about connections, and how delightful for you to make that connection with Longley back to Piper. Sad that he died, but the illustration is lovely. I know the poem you quote from, that's a lovely layer of meaning that you've added to it.

Michael Farry said...

Thanks Barbara, yes connections all over the place. I wondered if Piper ever knew his illustration was used in my humble history. Probably not. Nowadays with the internet it would have been very easy to contact him.