John Verling (1943 – 2009)

John Verling pictured above at Irland ’85 in Zurich. Verling and many of the participating artists created a street performance to advertise their exhibitions. Here, as part of the performance, he is having his legs cast in plaster by Ian Wright, while performing an Irish Séan Nos ballad.

Born in Portlaw, Co Waterford, John Verling studied architecture at Crawford Municipal School of Art, Cork, Hammersmith College of Art and the Architectural Institute, London.

During the early 1970s he worked in the architect’s department of County Hall, Cork, where his work included the construction drawings for Bantry Library, designed by the Ballydehob-born architect Patrick McSweeney.

For five years Verling was a board member of the Crafts Council of Ireland, representing the Cork Craftsman’s Guild and Cork Potters Association (1970s-1980s).

Verling illustrated The Lost Notebook by John Montague, Brian Merriman’s The Midnight Court and Marc Brandel’s The Mine of Lost Days.

His most distinguished works are the large and strongly coloured tempera paintings of West Cork subjects that he produced over the last twenty years of his life, mostly devoted to the abandonment of the Mizen Peninsula.

John & Noelle Verling established the Fergus Pottery in Dripsey in 1971 with Noelle, who had qualified in ceramics at Hammersmith College of Art and Design, as potter. She produced a wide range of domestic ware at Dripsey. When they moved in 1973 to Ballydehob to take over Christa Reichel’s studio, they adapted Reichel’s press-moulds and Gurteenakilla pottery stamp for their own work and from then on, traded as Gurteenakilla Pottery and latterly as Brushfire.

…John Verling loved the windswept West Cork landscape and felt moved to record a disappearing environment. his paintings often depicted the doors, windows and walls of decaying buildings, repositories for the memories of past inhabitants, long gone. The windswept thorn tree is a familiar motif which connects John Verling with West Cork: the tree became his icon and frequently appeared in his paintings and on his ceramic work… (Alison Ospina – West Cork Inspires 2011)

Above: 1974 illustration by John Verling for the book The Mine of Lost Days by Marc Brandel