Negative Space


Cristín Leach

May 2022

A new kind of memoir from one of Ireland’s leading art critics, which examines the importance of art and words to help anchor you in a world turned upside down.


This searingly intimate literary debut from top Irish art critic Cristín Leach weaves words and art with an unravelling of self that comes when a marriage breaks. In a multi-layered and incisive narrative, Leach writes about the gaps between reality and perception, about writing and anxiety, body and brain, breaking and making, succeeding and failing, conventionality and independence.

The non-linear structure of Negative Space, with repeats, retakes, and details deliberately left unsaid, mimics the gaps in memory and understanding that are part of the human condition, especially during times of great stress. It’s about art and writing as a fundamental way of explaining and understanding the world, perhaps saying what cannot be said, or revealing without showing.

Negative Space is a memoir about writing and of art as a salve and a means of escape, marriage as a refuge and a trap, the nature of home, and what happens when everything falls apart.



  1. Writing
  2. Seeing
  3. Listening
  4. Sounding
  5. Sinking
  6. Breaking
  7. Healing
  8. Home


Cristín Leach is The Sunday Times Ireland’s longest serving art critic. She has written about art for the paper since 2003. She is a writer and broadcaster, whose short fiction and personal essays have been published in Winter Papers and on RTE Radio 1 (Keywords 2020). Her art writing has also appeared in Irish Arts Review, on, in artist catalogues, and other publications. In 2018, she was shortlisted for Critic of the Year in the Newsbrands Ireland Journalism Awards. In 2021, she was Writer in Residence for the Hearsay International Audio Arts Festival and was elected President of the Irish branch of AICA (Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art).


‘Original, intense, and always compelling – this is a highly accomplished debut.’
Kevin Barry

‘There are few books that capture so gracefully and so truthfully the way in which art and life weave and bleed together. Negative Space is a beautiful, profound, unique book.’
Sara Baume

‘I adored Negative Space. It is a personal Ways Of Seeing for twenty-first-century women … Leach beautifully articulates what it is to be a writer, what it is to be heartbroken, what it is to be betrayed and ultimately what it is to be human.’
Edel Coffey

‘Press your ear to this book, and you will hear the tumultuous soundscape of a life, in all its joys and sorrows and wonderings.’
Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Negative Space is a beautiful book – raw, honest, and vulnerable. Searingly intimate and thought-provoking.’
Louise O’Neill

‘Immediate and wholly convincing…She is uncommonly good at writing about being embodied…Negative Space is the record of a writer remaking life and language, knowing they will always be strangely matched.’
Brian Dillon, The Irish Times

‘…an unflinching self-exploration of a woman at various major life stages, not to mention a refreshing portrait of a very modern Irish marriage breakdown, divorce and family break-up.’
Tanya Sweeney, Irish Independent

‘In recent years there has been a flourishing of Irish women who have written very different testimonies to the experience of womanhood in Ireland. This forms an elegant counterpart.’
Sinead O’Shea, Book of the Week

‘This book is a memento of pain, a chronicle of loss…a refreshed perspective on what it means to be free.’
Anne Cunningham, Sunday Independent

Negative Space offers moments of intense beauty and clarity of expression that subvert expectation.’ Totally Dublin

ISBN: 9781785371912