The Idea of Islands
'Poet and artist collaborations are generally more exciting than novelist/artist ones, if only because the artist in the latter tends to be regarded primarily as an illustrator. That is distinctly not the case with The Idea of Islands where the dark, painterly, drawings of Donald Teskey and the atmospheric, but sharply observed poems of Sue Hubbard add up to something more - more in fact than a kind of joint-reportage on sense of place. The sense of place here is also the place of body and mind where, as one poem puts it, “we feel ourselves / to be made from earth / our cells are filled with water”. Life and place move around and within each other becoming each other’s memorable conditions.’
'Cill Rialaig is at the edge of the beautiful and atmospheric southernmost peninsula of Kerry. Sue Hubbard writes her spare poems about a harsh winter pilgrimage there, testing the body and mind to its limits. Donald Teskey depicts the landscape surfaces of the place in magnificent drawings. 'Now His Days' and 'Light Breaks Celestial' pick up the words of the poems, but the pictures could be of nowhere else. This is a magical, searching book.'
'What Donald Teskey and Sue Hubbard have produced in The Idea of Islands is a marriage of shared lyric sensibilities and their own harmony of ideas that serves to sustain this coupling of word and image. A perfect marriage it is too, and those sensibilities are acutely attuned to the distinct and atmospheric qualities to be found out at the “edge of the whip-lashed Atlantic”. The imaginative responses of both artist and writer are perfectly complementary. When the poet describes the sea as being “black as a saucer of spilt ink”, the painter renders it so with all the power and drama (and dark foreboding) that the sea itself often yields. Like the islands themselves, bare and austere, Teskey’s evocative, beautifully textured drawings and Hubbard’s sequence of reflective and highly visual poems stand unadorned but infused by the same sense of mystery that emanates from these desolate outposts. This double focus accumulates into a vividly thematic book that, in the making, has resulted in a fine example of the craft of book-making.'