'Painting – The RHA Exhibition’, The Bell, Vol. 17, no. 13, June 1951.
Swift uses a review of an exhibition at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) to pass comment on the two main art schools in Dublin at the time, the RHA and the National College of Art, and abstract art (at the time abstract art was dominant and figurative artists were being overlooked)
I can think of no way of killing talent in a young person more surely than by teaching him not to observe and this was the effect of the type of art training which became the official and accepted art-school method…To teach art the first concern must be to allow for the temperament and individuality of the student, to teach him no more in fact than to ‘see’ the object. There exists then the world of technical knowledge and elementary information which will give him the machinery with which to grapple with his own feelings. The teaching of this should not be tied up in the stylistic idiosyncrasies of dead traditions. Freedom should be the key note...
I may add here that I think abstract art played a very important part in freeing us of old academic shackles, and I am certain may still prove a useful form of exercise, but if pursued as a manner of painting I fail to see what the end can be. It will cut the artist off from life, and leave him for subject only his own plastic methods; he will become a 'connoisseur of his own tricks'.