What might be the meaning of this linear and painterly configuration with the partly open doors, recessed shadows, windows revealing a green outside world? This is in a sense a portrait of an interior that is lived in and which exudes a human presence – why? Glancing between the photograph above and, what was eventually painted gives some answers: It’s almost like Burke views this world through a blues and melancholy lens. Looking between the photograph and the painting, we wonder about decisions made such as the toning down of sharp daylight, the overall ‘bluing’ of palette, the cleansing of the tiled floor. Burke does not physically include the owner-occupier in her work and there are very few clues, - in fact we suspect that the participant-occupier has hoovered and cleaned up human traces before the visit. As voyeurs, we are left to construct an identity in their absence. So absence plays gently with our imagination. As strangers, we are inside, looking out, perhaps waiting and watching for the return or exit, curious yet not quite fitting, guessing and not quite knowing. This is the mystery. Perhaps Burke’s intent is to move us from a recognisably grounded reality into a more poetic domain. In each artwork Burke is discovering that which distinguishes one participant from another, the difference. Philosopher Mary Parker Follett has written ‘the only use for my difference is to join with other differences’ – heterogeneity, not homogeneity, makes unity.8 In recent years, how we construct home is an increasingly recognized subject of interest within artistic, social and architectural environments. Two examples come to mind - in Dublin, sound artist Michael McLoughlin has spent time with people in Traveller communities, discussing, drawing and recording what home means, and through his artworks, providing a means for Traveller voices to be heard. Architect Emmet Scanlon, in ‘Home on the Grange’, working with photographer Aisling McCoy and designer Paul Guinan asks residents to identify areas within their homes that have a particularly creative meaning, thereby revealing a hidden architecture made every day at home. Burke’s tour of ‘Townscape’ will return to Stradbally, having contributed increased awareness about valuing participant-occupiers in discussions about home-making and living in the 21st century. Jenny Haughton. Public Art Coordinator and Process Consultant in the contemporary arts. 7 1. Interview with the artist, 15.01.2018. 2. Burke, M. (2015) House Portraits Tallaght Community Arts. 3. Burke, M. (2015) – ‘Home is where the art is: Exploring the meaning of home in Tallaght West, essay by Mary P. Corcoran for House Portraits, Tallaght Community Arts. 4. Dunne, A (1991) Mary Burke Suburbanscapes. 5. Kendall, R. (Ed.) (2000) Degas By Himself. - Drawing, Prints, Paintings, Writings. Little Brown & Co 6 Ibid. 7. Ibid Ibid. 8. Follett, M. (1918)The New State Longmans, Green. Mary and Brian’s Home, Court Square - Painting.