Saturday, June 27, 2009

Story telling, my arts practice

This morning I started to think about how 'story' is becoming central to my art practice again and started thinking back over my arts practice, it has always been central. But making space for each of us to express our stories seems to be important, personally, in groups, in our communities and in our geographical areas.
My workshops and community based work goes some way towards this but I want it to extend and put into action ideas that I have had for a long time, they are now maturing and I hope to bring them to to fruition this summer.
In 2005 - 2006 my painting work primarily dealt with my story, expressing it through painting mainly on paper. The paintings were good and I got to a point where I was pleased with them and if someone did n't like them that was okay because I was able to srtand beside the work and say 'I'm pleased with them'.

I worked towards a solo show in 2007 where my theme was dealing with change, mainly in living location but also the closure of a phase in my life. I was commemorating leaving behind an area I knew really well and an established network and community. As I worked on the exhibition I took on bigger themes that were outside myself. My point of reference grew and changed. I started to look at social capital read Robert Putnams 'Bowling Alone', looked at my experience of how communities function, how personal networks are formed and started looking at the urban rural divide in modern Ireland. My work also expanded to include handmade textiles and photo-graphic prints.

I should add two other significant things. In the year up to the exhibition I had spent most of my working time in the studio alone. The week before the exhibition when I was due to collect my work from the framers I ended up taking our 5 year old to the hospital, twice in three days where he was diagnosed with severe Glandular Fever. The work nearly did not get hung and at the opening I stood know that my husband was at home with our three children one of them still very ill.

At the exhibition opening I stood surrounded by friends and family and a few strangers. I spoke a little about the work and then something wonderful unfolded. What I thought was finished work became a starting point. People responded to my work, the exhibition became a dynamic fulcrum that caused me to change how I approached my arts practice.

I made a decision there and then that I would get out of the studio and work with people more bring my ideas to them earlier in my creative process and look at ways to explore creativity in a more open way with others.

To be continued...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Celebrations and the marking of time

I became another year older yesterday. I have chosen to celebrate not with a party or cake or drinks but with an invitation to celebrate by marking time in a significant and personal way for me.
I've circulated an request to family, friends and neighbours to write something on a sheet of newspaper and give to me. Then I am going to make tight thin tubes out of all the sheets of newspaper and weave them in an urn.

There are other pieces to the project. I will post as it unfolds. I've gotten two pages already. So lovely the thoughts in them so personal, honest and heartfelt.

If your looking for a different way to celebrate; marking of time, rites of passage, someone special I can facilitate and design something for you. I am open to talk with you about a special event or workshop based on using art and soul for celebrations, occasions or closure, email me ballygarrettartstudio(at)

The studio is a good place for gifts with a difference. If you are looking for gifts I work on commissions and have a range of affordable and excellent paintings, textiles and collages for sale at the studio.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Doodles part II

I continue to be amazed and surprised to find fun and free software on the web. it's amazing how do the developers earn money?

One fun one that I came across is called I have been posting doodles there as a way to keep track of them, I'm drawing with the mouse and very quickly so they are pretty basic but you'll get the idea. See them under Havin_fun.

Here is todays doddle.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rural Arts Network and a stolen rose

Last night I attended A county of Arts and Culture. Would you like to see more arts and cultural events in your community? Presented by the Rural Arts Network. It was held in Leighlinbridge Parish Centre, Co. Carlow and run as part of the √Čigse Festival which is Carlow's Arts Festival.
No mean feat as it is a 90 mile round trip from Leighlinbridge to Ballygarrett.
The meeting was really good and very well facilitated by Conor O'Leary, a dedicated professional who wants to enable local communities to run arts events in their rural communities. He is interested in working with rural communities so if your interested in having arts events running in your community have a look at his website, what he does and contact him for more details.
I really liked the way Conor had three performances interspersed with the content of the meeting, he started with a performance from the Carlow Youth Orchestra, then did a short presentation followed by a great story from a local story teller. The arts officer Aileen Nolan, gave a presentation (too heavy on text) but great to see arts officers at local community based events standing up and reminding people of their role and what they do in the county.
Tara Connaghan the √Čigse Festival Director spoke briefly, she seems to be having great success diversifying the arts festival from Carlow town to the outlying more rural communities.
After that Conor broke us into groups by location and was surprised to see that half the people in the room were from outside Carlow County.
The group I was in really represented the South East; Wicklow, Wexford, Waterford, Tipperary, Kilkenny, all the areas involved in Artlinks. We were asked to brainstorm ideas for local rural arts events. All of the groups came up with 15+ ideas for local arts events. Then we chose one idea and mapped it out further what would we need to do to take the idea further. Then all the groups made a presentation back to the large group on the idea the group discussed and expand on.
Following on from this we got a short form to fill out which asked what three ideas we would like to see happening in our local area and taking one of those ideas what three steps would we need to take to make one of those ideas happen.
After all creative ideas are just that unless you can make them happen.
The evening was closed with two traditional musicians who finished the meeting on a great lively note.

On the way out of the Parish Hall I was stopped in my tracks by the rich and heavily scented rose bushes either side of the drive way entrance. The air was thick with the smell of a good old fashioned T-rose. It had been raining heavily and this seemed to add to the scent the bushes were laden with roses. I broke a rose, stealing it I suppose. I placed it on the dashboard of the car and enjoyed the fragrance as I started my journey home. As I drove by the river a fog had descended capturing the beauty of the river, fields and isolating the trees showing off the shapes in monochromatic splendid foggy isolation.
This morning after making school lunches, cooking pancakes for breakfast I got into the car to drop the boys to the school run and I was meet with the same wall, the heady intoxicating fragrance of the stolen rose.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tree Wisdom

I’ve been reading this amazing book about Trees, actually I've been reading it on and off for a few years. Tree Wisdom The definitive guidebook to myth, folklore and healing power of Trees, written by Jacqueline Memory Paterson
I bought it a few years ago for a proposal I did for a competition for a commission in 2006, I was not awarded the commission. I did a bit of research at the time on the concept of the 'tree of life', ogham, and the ancient Celtic link to trees. Recently the idea of the commission has returned and this blog has acted as inspiration to revisit the idea and start the visual process.
I have just finished reading the chapter about the Ash tree prompted by a recent visit to an amazing place near Gorey with ancient Ash trees all around it.
Hope you enjoy the graphic depicting the incantation to the elements with the power of the ash.
Ash Incantation by Roisin Markham

Monday, June 8, 2009


Wordle: Text doodle! Wordle for word clouds!

Wordle: Doodle3
They could do with a few more colour options but it is fun to use, and saves some time if the word cloud is for a blog or quick label. I have done word clouds in graphic programmes they take time.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fantastic quote!

"Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual"
Buckminster Fuller

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