Himself is into art now. Or so he says. He always had a passion for art but realised when he was a kid that he couldn’t draw for nuts. If he brought a line for a walk, the line would jump over the fence and bolt across the fields, never to be seen again. No, Himself and the pencil never got on. And if you couldn’t keep manners on a pencil, how could you expect a paint brush to behave for you. So he abandoned his art career before it could make a mockery of him.
It was different nowadays, he maintained, and he pulled something from the pocket of his overcoat and put it on the table in front of us. We drew back our glasses to have a better view.
“What’s that?” he asked.
Straight away the Young Lad, not yet having acquired the circumspection of the mature, blurted out, “A beach stone. I always wondered how all the holes are made in those stones. Looks like they were eaten away by some insect in the sea.”
Sure enough, it was one of those perforated stones that litter the shores of Ireland. And it was a good question, how do they get so many holes? But himself was not to be distracted by such curiosity. He had a new perspective.
“That’s where you are wrong,” said Himself. “It’s a work of art.”
“Is it valuable?” asked the Cynic. “If it is, I’m heading for Killiney Beach.”
“You can bring a tractor and collect a trailer-load, but they will be worthless. What makes this one unique is the concept.”
“Conceptual art,” sighed the Writer rolling his eyes heavenwards.
“It makes art accessible to all,” said Himself. “Even to someone who has two left hands, like me. All you need is the concept.”
“What are you going to do with it?” The Young Lad had taken it up and was turning it over in his hands.”
“Mind what you’re doing,” said the Cynic. “That’s a work of art you have there, not a bloody stone.”
Himself took it back. “I am going to have it mounted on a plinth, with the title underneath, ‘Holey Stone’. Spelt with an ‘e’. And then I’m going to submit it to the RHA.”
The Young Lad’s eyes were wide as saucers. “And do you think they’ll take it?”
“Why wouldn’t they? It’s a clever concept, isn’t it?”
“We’ll go out tomorrow with you and collect some more. Then you can have a one-man show.” The Writer didn’t look impressed.
“An original talent never repeats himself. Anyway, I have my one-man show all planned out.”
“What gallery?” asked the Writer.
“It won’t be in a gallery. That’s passé, bourgeois. I want to bring art to the people. The important thing is to engage the public, get the people to use their imagination. So my exhibition will be out in Herbert Park. I am going to have a set of little plates made up, the kind you can stick in the ground. Like the ones that say ‘Do not walk on the grass’, that type of thing. I will have a plate stuck in front of a park bench with just the word ‘Grass’ on it. That will be the title of one of my pieces. And people can sit on the bench and think about grass, what it means to them. I will be inviting them to use their imagination. That’s what conceptual art is all about. And if it goes well, I will have themed exhibitions. For example, Sport. In front of each bench in Herbert Park, I will have a plate saying, ‘Soccer’, ‘Cricket’, ‘Hurling’, etcetera, and people will sit there thinking of the game, maybe remembering matches they saw.”
“Bohemians must have discovered that. It’s the way they train, without going out, just looking through the window of the clubhouse, thinking about it.” The Cynic could make all the jokes he liked about Bohs, so long as he kept his snide remarks off Rovers.