January is cold and blear, a time for hibernation, especially for ancient Hibernians like myself. This painting is appropriate for the season in terms of climate and the hectic humdrum after the Christmas festivities, but there are harbingers of the joys of life too. The view is from the upstairs front seat of a bus barrelling down Amiens Street. Connolly Station and Bus Aras, the main train and bus stations respectively, are just behind us, ahead Dublin like crystals in the rain. Liberty Hall at almost sixty metres tall, considered a skyscraper when built in the sixties, really does scrape the sky on days like this. It is still the fourth highest building in Dublin. Off to our left the pyramid capped glass towers of George’s Quay Plaza, much the same height, line the far bank of the river. Straight ahead, the Customs House, Gandon’s late eighteenth century masterpiece, is shrouded in trees. Everything melts in the unrelenting rain.
But now they only block the sun
They rain and they snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
The photograph was taken by a friend of mine from Art College days, Paula Nolan. Back then, the late seventies, the Art College was in temporary premises on George’s Quay. Paula is a photographer of note, her work being shown at successive RHAs. Her photos can rise to the clouds above, but frequently, as here, feature the drama of ordinary life in the city as she put her morning commute to good use. Despite all the mayhem and the rain, it makes me almost wish to be commuting again.
Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way
Joni Mitchell wrote Both Sides Now in 1967, and it was a big hit for Judy Collins the following year. Mitchell’s version is from her album Clouds, 1969.