Dursey Island brings artists together in London exhibition

December 4th, 2020 8:00 PM

Ackroyd’s etching ‘Dursey Head and Cow Rock’

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A dramatic etching of Dursey Island, by a leading British landscape artist, along with an evocative poem about Dursey, are both featured in a London exhibition of life under lockdown.

Artist Norman Ackroyd, CBE, RA, and poet Rebecca Dowman worked on their pieces as part of the Common Place project, led by Bermondsey gallery Eames Fine Art and international writers’ collective 26. The project, launched during the UK’s spring lockdown, aimed to bring people together in celebration of special places at a time when we all had to stay home. Ackroyd and Dowman, who had not known each other previously, found that they both loved West Cork and decided to focus on Dursey Island.

Ackroyd’s etching, Dursey Head and Cow Rock, shows the island’s tip in turbulent weather. Dowman’s poem, Dursey Island, captures the wild potential of the Dursey Sound but, reflecting her experiences of softer days on the island, hints at calmer times.

Ackroyd, who is widely considered Britain’s foremost etcher, has been visiting and sketching West Cork since the mid-1980s. Among his many representations of the region is his atmospheric 2002 collection, From Skellig to Skibbereen – Ten Etchings of West Cork. 

The sketch that formed the basis of his Common Place etching was created when he circumnavigated Dursey Island in 2017, on a rather stormy day.

Dowman, from West Sussex, first visited West Cork in the early 1990s and has returned several times since, staying at Allihes, Schull and the Dzogchen Beara Buddhist centre, Garranes. She visited Dursey the more traditional way, by cable car.

The Common Place exhibition is now online, accompanied by a film about the making of the works, at

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