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The Irish Times books of the year: Best art books of 2022

Adrian Duncan selects his six favourite art titles of 2022

Equal Nine Patch

By Miranda Blennerhassett

Earlier this year I bought a small, red, handmade book by the artist Miranda Blennerhassett, whose seductive and fascinating paintings – blocks of pastel patterns – suggest hidden structures far beneath their surface. Equal Nine Patch transposes, with tiny patches of red fabric, miniatures of her larger works on to stitch-bound pages. It’s like having an exhibition of her work in your pocket.


By Wolfgang Tillmans

I’d been looking for this book (published in 1997) for ages. Then, during the summer, I came across it in a bookshop in Berlin. It consists of a hundred or so glossy photographs of Concorde aeroplanes taking flight or coming into land in the districts around Heathrow. There’s an obsessiveness to Tillmans’s snapshots – almost as if he is stalking some elusive (if now defunct) object of mechanical affection.

Bit Facade

By Áine McBride

I found, while leafing through Donegal artist Áine McBride’s Bit Facade, that we seem to share a keen interest in building-sites, scaffold netting, tension wires, patterned tiles ... but then the images veered off towards things like folds in tweed, a gathering of pigeons, sun-brightened tulip-petals, a car’s shining interior. Along with this, the concerted looking of the artist, who most often works in sculpture, brought into this wordless book rhythms and narratives that became, as I flicked on, obsessive and compellingly claustrophobic.

The Ireland That We Dreamed of

By Niamh Moriarty and Ruth Clinton

This artist duo has been making, for the last decade and more, sophisticated stories, films, exhibitions, sounds-works, publications and performances. Their latest project, of the same name, was a 45-minute film during which the artists performed a director’s-cut voiceover that playfully and movingly interweaved memoir with myth with landscape. The slim accompanying catalogue contains stills from this film with a fascinating essay on their research.


The Sculptural Imagination of Seanie Barron


Askeaton Contemporary Arts, for almost 20 years now, have been producing exhibitions, film-screenings, artist-residencies and festivals of contemporary art. Their publications and website show the great formal range of their projects both national and international. This handsome recent exhibition catalogue of the stunning work of Askeaton stick-maker Seanie Barron is accompanied by an attentive and rich essay from Jon Wood.

An File Mícheál Ó’Gaoithín: The Blasket Painter

By: Mícheál Ó Gaoithín. The Lilliput Press

Introduced by Maria Simonds-Gooding, this large-format hardback contains stunning reproductions of poet and storyteller Mícheál Ó’Gaoithín’s drawings and paintings from 1968-74. It’s figurative and landscape painting at its most curious and vivid. ‘The Island King’s Boat: the sea full of life at twilight’ – a small pencil drawing of ghostly fishermen in a curragh surging beneath wheeling seagulls is one such moment where the perspective and dynamism in the work seems to almost exceed the medium.

Adrian Duncan is an editor with Paper Visual Art Books whose most recent title – well I just kind of like it – was guest-edited by Wendy Erskine.

This article is part of our guide to the Irish Times books of the year. Follow one of these links to read Malachy Clerkin on sports books / Tony Clayton-Lea on music books / Rory Kiberd on nonfiction books / Seán Hewitt and Martina Evans on poetry /Niamh Donnelly on fiction / Jane Casey on crime fiction / Claire Hennessy on young-adult fiction / Sara Keating on children’s books / Anne Enright, Colm Tóibín, Fintan O’Toole and more on their books of the year