Wednesday 27 October 2021

4th Signal Residency

 My fourth residency (for information on previous residencies simply do a search on this blog for Signal Arts Centre) in the Signal studio began Oct 11. While I like working at my home studio, the ten weeks at Signal pulls me out of my regular routine and puts me in a specific project routine. Since I have all the work done for my solo exhibition (Memory Is My Homeland at Rathfarnham Castle, Feb 16-Mar 20 2022) I decided that this year my main focus in Signal would be my writing. So when I packed up I had considerably less stuff to transport down to Signal Arts Centre than in previous years. I still had some visual art supplies to bring, as I decided, as usual, that I would give myself three daily tasks to complete while at the studio: as well as writing, I would be making a self portrait sketch and do some bookbinding work (making blank books for the annual craft fair and for some gifts). The photo below shows the various packed things awaiting transport from my home to the studio on the Monday morning of Oct 11.

The studio was fairly clean, just needing a quick sweep and then I covered the tables to start them as fresh, clean work surfaces. The table on the left foreground will be my main bookbinding space, and the other tables act as supply overflow areas. 

I set up a laptop at the desk as my definite office space for writing. There are two sinks in the studio, so I found the board to put across the one with the mirror behind it, and this would be my self portrait space.

Wednesday 20 October 2021

The Source - book launch

During the past year or so, one of my joys has been to watch artist talks via zoom when live, or later via YouTube when available. An artist himself, Alan Keane recognised the desire of other artists to see what their peers (known and known) were up to during the pandemic and decided to host a series of live but remote video interviews with artists in their studios. The interviews were held weekly on a Saturday morning for about an hour, during which the artist would give a virtual tour of their studio, talk about their practice and be open to a Q & A. While I was only able to attend one event live, it was a brilliant format, and I am so glad the sessions are available on Keane's YouTube Channel, here.

In another recognition of this being such a valuable resource of living Irish artists, Keane turned the series into a beautiful book "The Source". Both the book title and the series title are a deep nod to creative inspiration. I attended the book launch at the United Arts Club in Dublin a few days ago, and was so delighted to meet Mr Keane and to collect my copy of the book.

I don't know if anyone was watching, but I certainly obtained some olfactory satisfaction by opening the book and taking a good sniff! The book is absolutely beautiful, two pages devoted to each guest from the series - a written page with artist bio, statement & portrait and QR code (to directly lead to the YouTube video of the individual) and a lush, full-colour page of the artist's work. The contents page gives a full roster of participants (over 50) at varying stages of their careers, including some very well-known artists.

I had only heard about The Artist's Well series because I saw a notice for an upcoming event with Eamon Colman. Eamon had been a good friend of mine last century but we lost touch over the years, so I was intent on seeing the live event on the Saturday. It was such a pleasure to see him again - and his work! - that I made a point of renewing our acquaintance and headed to Thurles, Co Tipperary to see his recent exhibition, Into The Mountain, there and meet him again. I blogged about it here.

Though most of the guests on The Artist's Well were visual artists, Keane did not confine his interviews to this one form. In fact there are also several gallerists, a musician, a singer and a writer included. Olivier Cornet owns and operates the Olivier Cornet Gallery in Dublin and it was totally fascinating to hear him talk about setting up in Ireland, the artists whom he represents in his stable and his own interests in inter-disciplinary explorations (for example, theming group shows as a response to a specific poem).

At the launch I was hoping I would become reacquainted with a number of artists whose videos I had seen and met years before on one occasion or another. However, due to covid restrictions, I could not stay long at launch and did not get the chance to re-meet some past acquaintances (who may have arrived after I had left). One such artist is Niamh O'Connor who I had the pleasure to meet when we were both involved in the Jack and Jill Foundation's fundraiser "The Big Egg Hunt, Dublin" back in 2013. (I did a few blogs about it back then here, here, here, here, here, here and here!)

At the book launch, Alan Keane assured me that Series 2 of The Artist's Well was due to start in a few weeks. Looking forward to that!

Wednesday 13 October 2021

Rathfarnham Castle - fine plasterwork

 A few weeks ago I blogged about the rough wall textures that I find so attractive at Rathfarnham Castle (see here) but there are also other things about the architectural restoration that really catch my eye too. 

In the hallway on the second floor, there is a small but deep "window". Of course, I have been obsessed by stone windows for a long time: my series of paintings from the late 1980s to the early 1990s, which formed the "My Tower of Strength" exhibitions, are based on stone windows in ecclesiastical ruins I have seen throughout Ireland. This is not so much a window, but an alcove, and there is another in The Pistol Loop Room. Perhaps they were once windows?

I think a curvy door is magnificent! There are several of them in the building, continuing and fitting snugly in the line of the wall where there are curves rather than corners.

There is lots of finely crafted plasterwork throughout the building.

I love the juxtaposition of the fine plasterwork and the distressed walls of The Dining Room.

The Saloon has wonderful plasterwork in the ceiling, which paintings are set into. (The paintings are early 20th century religious works commissioned by former owners, the Jesuits.)

Wednesday 6 October 2021

Florence Road: Butterfly Wall

As with the Kingston Road painting (here) I had a pretty clear idea of what image I wanted to represent my home when I moved back to the town of Bray from rural Kerry in 1996. Prior to giving all the walls a makeover paint job before moving in, I was horrified to find the stairwell was home to dormant but still living butterflies. My fear of butterflies comes from many years of seeming to be a target for both swarms and singular colourful insects in Toronto as they dive-bombed my curly head. My husband carefully collected the butterflies and set them free - once outside they shook off their stasis. So creating this painting was a bit cathartic for me and I am happy with the resulting overall image of rebirth. I started the painting at the end of August with composition outlines.

Finding images of 1950s style wallpaper was simple enough, I just had to choose something that suited my memory. At first I thought of using images of Monarch butterflies, but these were a type of butterfly that were more common to my childhood in Toronto. Here in Ireland it is the Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly that is very common and I expect that that was the likeliest species that I found on the stairwell wall of Florence Road.

While I set about making each buttefly unique I also wanted them to obviously be the same type.

I gave enough three dimensionality to the bannister railing to make it visually stand in front of the butterfly wall.

Florence Road: Butterfly Wall; acrylic on pressed cloth; 60 cm x 75 cm; 2021