In the gold frame, is my father with my Grandmother. Alongside them are his 4 sisters. Their names are written beneath the square.

The sacking represents the tough times the family slipped into once my Father’s father died.

The signature is my fathers from my Dad's own hand his school book. It is the Gaelic version of his name that until I researched for this piece, I had never heard of.

The carpenter’s square and the antique handle symbolise the man my father would become - a carpenter/joiner.

The whole is created on a piece from an old sewing machine of the era.

The crucifix is reflective of the staunch catholicism the family lived by.

His mother was a very staunch woman who’s shoulder is almost turned on her son whilst his  father has his hand lovingly placed on his adoring son’s shoulder - an unusual thing for a father in this era to openly show affection to a son like this. So, this picture had to go in a special place.


Creating this piece stirred up such a myriad of emotions - sadness, pride, a longing to know more. But I also felt privileged - of being 'trusted' to enter this world to record a tiny piece of history.

For me, whilst creating this piece, this feeling of privilege was such that I indeed felt, I was the recipient - not merely the artist. 

That - I did not expect.




My Father's Family...

Dublin 1920s

I wanted to create a piece full of symbolism and reflections of a time gone by - of a family unknown to me -

but a family, linked to me by blood.

These people lived in a different lifetime, in a different world from me.


I wanted to ‘get to know’ Dad’s family just a tiny bit - which is all one can do with the passing of time - when all that is left are scraps of photos and stories quickly fading from memory.


We lost Dad a long time ago now and I wanted to understand his past that made Dad the wonderful man he was.

Creating this piece allowed me a tiny peak inside the door of my father’s early life.


It is 1920s Dublin and times were hard.
Dad’s father had a ships’ foundry business that was fairly lucrative - until the Great Depression hit when Da
d was only 7 years old. 2 years later, Dad’s father died. His mother struggled on with her 5 children and business and needless to say, times were tough. She was a staunch woman who did well to raise her family on her own, until on the day of her son’s 21st birthday, she too died.


I wanted this work to show the reality of my father’s childhood. I wanted it to be a little dark and broody but with areas of light. I also wanted it to act as a record of my father, the boy.

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© 2014 by Diana Nicholson-Plank