On the road in Ireland’s wild west


Watercolors: Helga Kaffke

Writings: Gabriele Berthel

Translation or rough translation from German by Ute Daly


ISBN 978-3-95655-898-6 (E-Book)

ISBN 978-3-95655-897-9 (Book)


© 2018 EDITION digital
Pekrul & Sohn GbR
Alte Dorfstraße 2 b
19065 Pinnow
Tel.: 03860 505788
E–Mail: verlag@edition–



Once, when asked about her artistic concepts, Helga Kaffke said: “ paint a landscape like a portrait and a portrait like a landscape.”

The relentless blue of southern skies never tempted this painter abroad. She worked in the reserved expanses of the European north, in later years more and more in the loneliness of the west of Ireland. She loved its invincible light, whose source remains in darkness, when the storm tears slate-grey clouds into shreds in an overcast February sky. Beneath it, in scrubby bog grass, pink and blue sheep are blossoming. The gleaming bogwater reflects serenely a painter, who even in memory never claimed indifference. In those on-paper resurrected landscapes we find it all: bog grass and moss, rock and fern, sheep pink and blue. And people? Those too, but mostly their traces: in the skilfully woven complexity of electric lines, in cottages not just dreaming of sea views (location, location, location)...

Melancholic vitality and vital melancholy – sometimes the boundaries blur.

This is the ambivalence in these works of art – you can never be certain if what you see is truly there or if you intuit that which is neither hidden nor obvious on the surface. Beings, for example, who have become so much an integral part of the landscape that they can only appear as part of it, impossible to substract from it without dissolving it in its entirety.

This is a way to create a riddle from a solution. Find and you will seek. And while we, the observers, look at such a painting, relays are closing in our brain, connections are made, in subtle ways, we can trace: in ourselves. This is a consequence.

The painter who portrays a landscape in this way can remain serene, when a mainstream trendsetter lectures her about the rules of the art market.

Gabriele Berthel

Farm with view of Achill Island


Doona, Ballycroy


Springtime in Doona


View of Rosturk Castle, Clew Bay


John’s Row, Westport


Westport, Octagon


Westport, James Street


Still-Life with Cottage



The white-washed walls have been devoured by salt:

the last protection. The stones lie bare.

And on the walls that are still standing green moss is growing –

Thus, soon forgotten under the wind,


the leftovers of a life look, deserted:

six steps in a square, and nearly brightened

by the rag of the sky falling into the small room.

That tries to expand, to seize so much light...


and so much air, enough not to get smothered –

Beautifully reflected by the sea, by strange eyes,

the cottage wakes up dreamless from dreaming


Of elated cameras, romantic advertisements...

Where the blind window crosses itself,

the frame projects a shadow.

Fishing for salmon in the Valley of Delphi


At second glance


Half way to Heaven



Finally there is nothing left of the house, only a glow

of gorse bloom through empty windows

and the shadows of scrawny crows on the gable


And abandoned voices remain in the house

voices that won't move out

prevent it's release, entrench themselves in the roofless house

in their dotage


Plainly the house has nothing to offer

but its vast openness, its open end.

The house hasn't even got an auctioneer

to grant it a last word of praise,

to wait for a last bit —

It has long ceased to be an object

of desire

of gesticulation

the house that cannot perish

and can't be resurrected


The gorse stands still. And the house stands still. And for the space

of seconds a scrowny crow sits still

on the sun-kissed open gable.


Thus life continues here

at a standstill

and on the road time travels by

redeeming all, carrying everything along,

everything except the abandoned voices

that stubbornly refuse to climb on board,

leave the world, enter into eternal peace...


Stoically the gorse blooms under the open gable

through empty windows of half-razed walls

that stand out sharply against the light like scrawny crows

Debate at the boat-house, Sligo


Sruhill Lough, Achill Island


Rosses Point, Sligo


Mullaghmore, Sligo


Glowing Primroses


Lonely Boats


Castelhill Church, Mayo


Starlings above Tullaghan Bay


Fahy Castle, Ballycroy


Fahy Castle with view of Slievemore