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I am left with the job of explaining why, after her death, she has been so badly neglected. The exhibition in 2000 seems (from the correspondence with Joy Hammerschlag I have in my possession) to have been an act of contrition for the casual way in which the donation from the Trudi Berger collection had been received. In my Google searches preparing for this article I learned that the highest recorded price for her work at auction has been US$300. 

In his essay for the 1966 Arts Council exhibition, Ken Jamison had written:

'When she left Vienna her work, though not strictly representational, was very different from its present abstract aspect, and one might have supposed that the country of her adoption might have exerted some influence upon her. This does not seem to have been the case: her art still retains a mid-European reference and immediate environmental influences are minimal. This, coupled with with the evident intensity of feeling in her works leads one to suspect that though she talks little of past experiences, it is of them that she speaks constantly in her painting, and by them that she has come to assess and assimilate new experiences and new relationships with which her art is equally concerned.'

There are of course Irish artists who are not particularly concerned with Irishry, and Alice's engagement with the work of W.B.Yeats could be seen as an influence exerted by the country of her adoption. Nonetheless I think that Ken was right in principle and that Alice had concerns that were not those of the world about her, even of the world to which she gave space in the New Gallery. She said that though she did not share Yeats's philosophy she found it fascinating. Yeats had declared that in principle his poetry was a search for religious truth. (36) He also said it was a search that was being constantly deflected by his love of poetic imagery. That of course is the theme of his great poem The Circus animals' desertion. I think Alice's painting too was an experimental means of searching for religious truth - not in any form of external teaching whether from any of the major religions or from a school such as that of Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Rudolf Steiner etc (however useful she may have found such things) but from the stuff of her own experience. Ken Jamison, whose short essay is really very perceptive, talks of 'emotion recollected in tranquillity.' Maurice Nicoll, analysing the different centres of consciousness, talks of the intellectual part of the emotional centre as the mainspring of artistic activity.

(36) e.g. W.B.Yeats: Autobiographies, Macmillan papermac 1980 ed, pp.115-6 and pp.253-4. Perhaps not the best examples of his saying it but they will have to do for the moment.

Unlike Yeats, however, I don't think she was deflected. There was nothing in her work in the 1960s other than the religious quest which I can only define in the vaguest terms as the desire not just to find a visual expression of the most deeply felt human experience but to make sense of it, to place it in relation to the overall scheme of things - the totality that transcends human experience. 

Her art, then, was a means not an end. There was a sense in which she wasn't an 'artist'. And I think this was felt by some of her contemporaries. As the wife of a successful businessman, she did not need to make a living from her art and sometimes she gave the impression that she didn't want to ask payment for her work - that she would rather have given the paintings to anyone she thought capable of profiting from them. My mother for example who said she didn't dare praise any of her paintings since Alice would immediately want to give it to her. It wasn't that my mother wouldn't want it but, as Alice would feel guilty asking for payment, my mother would feel guilty taking it without payment. I, of course, wish she had been less scrupulous! I remember some of her fellow painters complaining that with the prices she charged she was undercutting the market. I also remember the painter Brian Ferran (who was shown in the New Gallery and who replaced Ken Jamison as head of the Arts Council) complaining that Alice used very cheap materials and her paintings wouldn't last. Some time, I think in the 1980s, I visited Annely Juda to talk about Alice. She expressed great admiration for her and then complained that she had wasted her career by staying in a little backwater like Belfast (not perhaps her exact words). That annoyed me, knowing how much she had loved the immediate circle she had found in Belfast especially the theatre. But from the point of view of an artistic career Annely Juda was probably right. I was however left wondering why Juda herself had never taken her up. The point really is that the last person who would have been worried about not getting the recognition she deserved would have been Alice. She, I'm sure, would have liked to think her paintings could help people who wanted to engage in a religious search similar to her own. That would have been the only thing that mattered to her and in that respect big prices and a good reputation in the art world wouldn't have been of much use.

Perhaps somewhat self-indulgently I finish with a poem I wrote at the time of her death.

                                      Not content with the
                                      steel grey line of the sea
                                      we search on land
                                      colours, where they occur,
                                      stooping to collect
                                      shells and stone hands
                                      turning a sea deformity
                                      (beams divine). She
                                      was a wheelwright,
                                      building her sepias
                                      and ochres into a
                                      blue - to return