Balm for the Homesick


This virtual exhibition by visual artist Bernie Joyce explores how the Connemara people and landscape inspired Patrick Pearse as a teacher, writer and leader. Pathways sends the viewer on a journey back in time to when the Celtic Revival was in full swing. This was a period when artists, poets and writers turned their back on British colonial culture and looked towards their own Irish heritage. The paintings on show are accompanied with information on Pearse’s short stories, the Irish language and local history of his stay in Ros Muc on the west coast of Ireland. It gives a perspective on how the Cultural Revolution played a hand in the break from British rule and the lead up to the Easter Raising and the War of Independence.

The virtual Exhibition – start here.

Many people visit Pearse’s Cottage in Ros Muc on Easter Sunday but due to the pandemic the commemorations are cancelled for a second year running. This exhibition has evolved with these changing times and its aim is to bring an alternative experience to people in a safe environment until the time comes that we may visit the cottage again. 

Born in Reading. Bernie Joyce moved from the United Kingdom to Ireland as a small child. Once finished with her secondary education she returned to London. In 1998 she enrolled at Southwark College and achieved a diploma in fine art. Bernie returned to Connemara with her husband and two children in 2002. Throughout the years she has continued with her education at GTI and is currently a part-time contemporary art student at GMIT.

Within her practice to date she has worked on a wide range of rural and traditional subject matters dealing with an inner emotional treatment of space and drawing on reminiscence and literature. Recently Bernie has looked at Irish society since the formation of the state through a series of paintings of a disused school. She presents the viewer with empty rooms, open doors and blank blackboards. Her work invites the viewer to project themselves into these spaces, activating a sense of nostalgia, absence and memory. 

Employed occasionally by GRETB as an after school art teacher she also teaches various workshops and summer camps for community groups. Bernie had her own solo exhibition during Pléaraca’s Festival in 2006. In recent years she has taken part in and curated numerous group exhibitions and art collectives in Connemara. In 2016 with her travelling exhibition Pearse’s Footprints she exhibited at schools, day centers and Irish colleges around Connemara reaching an audience of 3,000 people and participated at Féile Phobail, Belfast. Her book which accompanied the travelling exhibition is for sale at Pearse’s Cultural Center and some of her paintings are on show in its interactive exhibit. Last year Bernie was awarded an Arts Bursary from Éalaín na Gaeltachta. This Easter she opened a new virtual exhibition Pathways which is featured in the VAI news events section and the Discover Ireland website.

More images of her work are to be found on her Insta site and website with virtual tour, and also at this site. You can email her here for more information. Bernie is acutely aware that many in the diaspora yearn to return to Ireland.