© National Gallery of Ireland
Joyce Gunn Cairns, Scottish, b. 1948
Title: Portrait of Colm Tóibín (b.1955)
Date: 2017
Medium: Graphite and coloured pencil on paper
114.2 x 75.3 cm
Credit Line: Purchased, Joyce Gunn Cairns, 2019
Object Number: NGI.2019.67
DescriptionThis drawing of the writer Colm Tóibín was made in 2017 during the Edinburgh Book Festival. Gunn Cairns has drawn the Irish writer almost every year since 2004. She first met him at the festival in 2004 and simply asked him to sit for her, which he graciously agreed to. They have developed a connection over time. Tóibín is relaxed in her presence and often falls asleep during the sittings. As a result, the viewer gets a glimpse of a well-known figure completely disarmed and totally at ease. The drawing style is distinctive, with loose, energetic lines used to draft in the mass of the figure and clothing. The head and face are worked up in more detail, using touches of colour. The result is a strong drawing which captures something of the essence of the sitter. In a recent review of the artist’s work, art critic Duncan Macmillan wrote: ‘For Joyce Gunn Cairns [the mystery] it is more that of life itself. Her tentative but searching drawing mimics the way we seek to understand each other and the world around us’. (The Scotsman 7 October, 2017).