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The Chauvet Owl

A recent encounter with a beautiful but elusive creature in the wonderful World of Owls in Randalstown Forest reminded me of a striking solitary figure I once saw engraved in the dark recesses of a cave in the Ardèche region of southern France. This is the 30,000 year old Chauvet owl, the oldest known depiction of an owl. It is about the size of a long-eared owl, with clearly defined ear-tufts, folded wings and streaks demarcating its densely lined plumage. The intriguing aspect of the owl is that its head is seen from the front but its body from the back as if swivelling its head 180 degrees to peer into the dark and meet the gaze of the people walking towards it. The real bird must have been watched many times and its Janus nature noted by the Palaeolithic artist.

As I watched and photographed the long-eared owl displaying the same characteristics as the Chauvet owl, I wondered if I too was fulfilling a basic human need to creatively record and reproduce aspects of the surrounding world.

To view images, please go to Gallery and click on Owls thumbnail.





NEW ULSTER BANK NOTES: Patricia’s iconic images of the Irish hare and brent geese feature on the new £5 and £10 notes that came into circulation February 2019. Read more…


The Royal Bank of Scotland have used Patricia’s images of the Irish hare and brent geese for Ulster Bank’s new £5 and £10 notes that came into circulation 27 February 2019. Also featuring is her image of Clydesdale horses and ploughing.

The theme of the new notes is Living in Nature and both notes have vertical designs.

The light-bellied brent geese that make the trip to Northern Ireland from Arctic Canada every year with huge populations arriving in Strangford Lough appear on both the obverse (front) and reverse (back) of the £5 note. On the front the brent are depicted arriving, flying above a transparent image of Strangford Lough; on the back a group departs in springtime for their breeding grounds in the Arctic, flying in the opposite direction. Their coming and going reflects the movement of people and animals. The £5 note also features a fuchsia plant and the Cryptic Wood White butterfly (a species endemic to Northern Ireland) on its front. A geometric pattern inspired by the markings in ancient sandstone as well as a family at the beach and a shellfish (a nod to the country’s fishing industry) feature on the reverse.

The Irish hare, found only on the island of Ireland and thought to have continuously inhabited the island since before the Ice Age is on both sides of the £10 note. On the front of the note the hare makes its way across the landscape, whilst on the back it sits above a transparent image of Lower Lough Erne. Characteristic small fields, Clydesdale horses (used on farms across Ireland to power the tilling of land), ploughing and patterns of fossilised coral also feature on the back of this note that celebrates agriculture and heritage. A Guelder-Rose (a Northern Irish shrub) is shown on the front.

The new £5 and £10 notes were revealed at a press conference last year.

Ulster Bank says the £5 note “focuses on Northern Ireland as a place that people pass through and visit, highlighting the importance of the sea and migration” while the £10 note is focused on agriculture and heritage.

OUT OF THE SHADOWS: CAPTURING THE WORLD OF THE FORGOTTEN NATURALIST JOHN TEMPLETON (1766-1825) by Patricia Pyne, exhibited in Ulster Museum Sept – Nov 2016, will tour to local museums and libraries from early 2017. ‘A remarkable sestercentennial exhibition that retrieves his legacy.’ The Irish Times. To view, please go to Gallery and click on thumbnail.

The exhibition will tour selected museums in Northern Ireland. Venues and dates will be posted as soon as available.

EXHIBITION THE POWER OF PLACE IN DOWN COUNTY MUSEUM FEB. – SEPT. 2015 (Now closed. Images may be viewed on this website.)

The Power of Place in the Down County Museum, Downpatrick, Northern Ireland 19 February – 27 September 201  

Power-of-Place-PanelIn early 2014 Down County Museum commissioned fine art photographer Patricia Pyne to photograph a selection of early Christian and medieval sites in County Down. The results are displayed in this dramatic and thought-provoking exhibition which captures the hidden beauty of our ecclesiastical heritage.

The pictures in this exhibition form the basis of another major exhibition In the Footsteps of Saint Patrick launched 2 February in the Saint Patrick Centre Art Gallery as part of their events in 2015.  The aim of this large format exhibition, produced by Down County Museum, is to explore some of the local sites, monuments and archaeological discoveries linked to the early missionary work of St Patrick and his followers, and to his Early Christian legacy in County Down. This PEACE III funded display is in English and Polish and is accompanied by a free booklet also in both languages.  It is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body and delivered by the North Down, Ards and Down Councils’ Cluster.  It will become a travelling exhibition.