If you’re a fan on James Joyce, you’re in for a treat next week when the first ever illustrated version of ‘The Ondt and the Gracehoper’ is launched by Irish artist Tom McNally. The launch will take place at the Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2 next Tuesday, 20th May, at 6pm and anyone can go along.
‘The Ondt and the Gracehoper’ is James Joyce’s peculiar and hilarious re-telling of Aesop’s ancient fable, ‘The Ant and the Grasshopper’, originally published in Joyce’s last great work, ‘Finnegans Wake’.
Joyce packed his version of the fable with references to philosophers. Fittingly, the artist who has now interpreted the work in graphic form is, himself, a philosopher. Tom McNally – who is originally from Portlaoise, but has lived in Dublin for 10 years – is adjunct assistant professor in philosophy at Trinity College Dublin, lecturing primarily on the philosophy of language. A self-taught artist, his work has previously been exhibited in the Oisín Gallery and Trinity College Dublin, and published in the College Green Arts and Literary Journal.
The launch of McNally’s illustrated version of ‘The Ondt and the Gracehoper’ next Tuesday will be the culmination of three years of hard work on the part of the artist. “Alongside my philosophy day-job, I’ve always had a huge interest in visual art and literature,” he said. “In the last few years, I’ve brought my passion for each of these areas together in the field of illustration.
“For this new book, each image was painted in a unique style, blending vivid colours with deep black ink outlines to bring the characters of the story into relief. It was a long and painstaking process, but it has definitely been worth it to see my own interpretation of one of Joyce’s most intriguing tales in print.
“They have a reputation as being somewhat inaccessible, but I believe Joyce’s writings and his humour can be appreciated by a much wider audience, and an ideal way of achieving this is opening his work up to new readers through illustrations and other creative interpretations.”
McNally’s book – which is published by The Lilliput Press – consists of a series of vibrant colour illustrations, each based on a line from the fable. Taken together, they illuminate Joyce’s re-telling. The fable and its paintings are supplemented with an Introduction by the artist and an accompanying essay by ‘Finnegans Wake’ textual scholar Danis Rose.
At Tuesday’s launch, Joyce fans will be in for a double treat, for – as well as getting their hands on some of the first copies of the book and getting the chance to meet the artist – renowned actor Owen Roe will also be in attendance for a live reading of ‘The Ondt and the Gracehoper’.
The launch event is open to members of the public, free of charge.
Further information about ‘The Ondt and the Gracehoper’ is available at: www.thomasmcnallyartist.com.