I’ve been wanting to paint this view for the last five or six years. When I used to work on archaeological digs, one of the jobs was in advance of a motorway between Fermoy and Mitchelstown. On the commute trip, I would pass this place twice a day. It’s on the Dungourney to Castlelyons road, at a townland called Curraghdermot. An amazing view of two mountain ranges in Munster is on the horizon. On the left are the Galtees, straddling the border between Limerick and Tipperary. On the right are the Knockmealdowns that form part of the border between Waterford and Tipperary. So even though I’m standing in County Cork, three counties can be seen. The location is in front of a disused field entrance, next to a disused lay-by. At around 600 feet up, it’s on some of the highest ground in East Cork.
I painted it all outdoors from life. I had enough fine days to complete the painting, due to an unusually long, warm, spell of weather. It’s a landmark picture for me, as it shows I can do a detailed painting from life and not be reliant on photo references.
This is based on a photo taken in summer 1994. This is a deeply personal work. My father, who was a tillage farmer, and younger brother are standing in front of the Mercedes Benz tractor with a Berthoud sprayer mounted on the back. My father had recently bought the sprayer; it’s wider arms and bigger tank covered more ground in less time than the old one. Like his father Dan, my father, Tim, was a forward thinking man in terms of machinery. I took my time with this one. Difficult areas were the front wheel of the tractor especially the ridges , my father’s shirt, face and head ( I had to completely redo his head and face cos the head was too small in the first attempt), and the sprayer’s arms at an acute angle. The machinery and my father are long gone and my brother is now as tall as my father was in this painting. The time feels like a different age to me. A line from the film, ‘Blade Runner’, was in my head as I was working on this piece:
‘All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain’.