Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A winter solstice snow labyrinth

During the last snow Deirdre nĂ­ Dhubhghaill @2DGraphicDesign asked me was I going to make a snow labyrinth. It just did n't seem like something I wanted to do.
We have had 28cm - 44cm of snow depending on where you stand in the garden since 7.45am GMT. Before the sunset I was out with my youngest too trampling around the garden. The snow is powdery and fine. After the children went in I pottered around. At the front right of the house there is a space which was un touch and it seemed perfect to walk a winter solstice labyrinth and I did.
Solstice Snow Labyrinth Wexford 2010
My digital camera has finally died so I'm back to the camera phone so photos are not great but it will give you an idea of what it looks like.
 There is more snow forecasted. Tomorrow I will build the walls higher and place little tea light candles along the path.
Although it would be lovely to go out and walk it later lighting it with candles. Saying good bye to the dark days and linking this year with next year on the 21st December 2010...
I will be posting more pictures on Facebook later so keep an eye there.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why the 13th of December is an important date for me

I was about to post a link on to Facebook about why today holds significance for me but felt it deserved a blog post. More personal then normal, then again my artwork is personal...
Today is my maternal grandmothers birthday, she died the summer before last . My Grannie Egan would have been 94 today, I miss her energy on the earth.
As an artist I paint those feeling or find ways to express, treasure and hold memories for myself and others. It gives meaning to experiences and helps me process my world. Others find solace in that also either through my work or through the work I do with them.
My grandmother grew very frail as she moved into her nineties, she became lighter on the earth and I knew her energy was lifting from it. I could not keep her here and she did not want to stay.
I painted this little piece to represent the fact that I knew she would be missing from the earth soon. I blocked out two 'doorways' with masking tape, wrote in the background and painted my hearts piece.
After the painting was dry I lifted the masking tape off revealing two white unpainted paces.
The second door was painted for my father who was very sick at the time but thankfully has now recovered.
I've used the image of the painting twice;
1. as an illustration for a blog post on Finding success through failure over on my business blog CreativeDynamix. Where I combined reversed text over the painting.
2. using the illustration I combined it with a map of Venice, text and typography printed it on to cotton and beaded it as part of my Of earth and soul exhibition at the Wexford Fringe 2010. Where it got a lot of attention and was sold. The text that was used with the typography to make a visually playful emphasis was a quote
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."
Leo Buscaglia

...and you see thats is what happens. Life goes on - work and thoughts, pictures, images, crockery and wool merge and mold beyond grief and loss in to images and remembrance and holding the essence of those memories.
Today I remember my Grandmother with fondness.
I continue to hold her memories and treasure them and craft images to tell her story, our story. I weave the contents of our story in and out of my ideas around the Legacy Series that slowly takes shape into a future exhibition. Even now she inspires me to live my life to express myself and I find touchstones which inspire me in the everyday things that have found there way into my home and my studio since she died. They are not heirlooms or priceless things of great inheritance but fragments of a life lived, of a woman called Olive Egan she lives on in the memory of those who loved her.

My studio like my memory holds fragments of my grandmother; bags of wool, orange knitting pins boxes for knitting needles, knitting patterns and crochet instructions, bought or kept from magazines. The oldest one from 1940 others from 1950's right through to the mid 1980's.
Womans Weekly January 1954
I've been spending some time stripping out my studio and this morning I stopped to look through a large black refuse sack full of wool and patterns. It seemed apt.

Friday, December 10, 2010

#GGPP and Labyrinths connect

If you've been following me on social media or reading my blogs you will know that Julie Ann Turner and I have a Global Gratitude Postcard Project #GGPP over on http://consciousshift.posterous.com/ and out there in the real world. People have been making postcards with intent and sending them in love and gratitude.
Julie Ann is an amazing woman and you can read more about her creative arc's and how she works on her website http://www.creatorsguide.com/. She also has a weekly radio program where she did interview me for the #GGPP project and yes if you have n't listened to the audio it gives you a good insight into the intentions behind the project and how Julie Ann and I got connected via Twitter. The itunes listing for ConciousShift Radio can be found here and there are fanstastic interviews that I have really enjoyed listening to.
My great discovery yesterday - and thank you Julie Ann - was SARK, Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy. Listen to the interview it is wonderful. I went to SARKs site and was really enjoying having a look around. SARK has just published an new book and she is standing in the middle of a fabulous labyrinth right beside the sea, go look http://www.sarkjournal.com/.
So I asked her where it was and Julie Ann, Lands End in San Francisco I found out. Yeah.
For gorgeous photos look here at this photographers website.

I have a brother in SF a visit has been on the cards for a few years.
Would n't one of these look great on Cahore Point...

So you see work is all connected in the end #GGPP connects to my obsessive labyrinth behavior and land art projects this year. I look forward to making more labyrinths in 2011. I'd like to make them with groups and some as permanent structures too.
Do you know of other labyrinths around the world I could visit? or where would be a good spot to build one.
July, August and October I blogged about labyrinths if your new to my blog do go and have a look. Or start with this beach labyrinth project which also has links to further information and local places to find labyrinths.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

#twitterartexhibit Moss Library, Norway

I think it all started with a tweet that I saw from David Sandum. 140 characters and that was it. Around the 21st of October you can read all about it here http://davidsandumart.posterous.com/call-for-artists-twitter-art-exhibit-in-moss.
For my part I had chatted via twitter with David once or twice, I liked his work and what i knew of him i liked and respected. So if he was going to organise a fundraiser to raise money for a local library in Norway by inviting artist all over the twitter-sphere to join in, well it would have been rude not to.
Postcards size was what he wanted and I do love postcards.
I was in but getting down to the brass tax of making the miniature work was more challenging. What to send? What to make that represented how I work and supported what David was trying to do.
I had just finished my successful Of earth and soul, exhibition and workshop sessions at the Wexford Fringe. I was on the creative curve that requires rest and re-cumulation of creative energy before another up cycle. So I was tired and trying to work less, walk more and play a little.
Eventually I started with a montage a map, an old girls magazine and a letter. I like the idea of the text "I told you I could do it!" as a central focus.
Montages are funny things sometimes they just need a muted layer of tracing paper and some script over them and they are perfect but this demanded that I painted with intent and send a representational piece of my style of work. So painting began and after that some stitching. The roads were re-highlighted to continue on and add definition with some beads.
 My seven year old had great fun doodling on the news paper as I was stitching. If you look at the Of earth and soul exhibition you will find the painting Trust has a link to this piece.
The work was sent off to David in Norway as soon as it was dry. He noted that it arrived on November 7th.
Now it sits on a wall in a Norwegian Library. My postcard is easily spotted second from the top technology is amazing.
This is an image shared from the Moss Library Flickr images of the exhibit.
On twitter the chat continues about the exhibit @DavidSandumArt: The coolest thing about #twitterartexhibit are the computers next to wall. People go online/twitter and look up their favorite artists.
So congratulations to David for doing such a great job and being so inspiring.
Twenty countries X 260 artists joined through twitter to raise funds for children's books in Moss, Norway. I love this story of the power of twitter, social media, one mans idea and the courage of his convictions to just 'Do it'. I love it has raised his profile as an artist, activist, solver, fund raiser and man about art. I love that Moss Library will have a fund for children's books. I love the fact that 260 artists participated with a postcard. All he asked was would we join in and we responded. 
Well Done David!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Walking labyrinth

I went to the local beach today to see what damage had been done by the storm. The tide was out so far and had obviously come in very far last night. The beach looked like it had a good clean.
This week I've planned a land labyrinth at a local forest but might prove tricky with the weather and other commitments. Think leaves and mucky decay.
But today I needed a walk on the beach could n't resist walking a labyrinth path.
I did not bring my camera as I wanted the exercise not a photowalk! so the photos are n't great as they are taken with the mobile.

What the sea washed up


Where the horses turned I turned there too and headed back...

Friday, October 22, 2010

more tactile labyrinth making

You can only teach by creating an urge to learn.  
Victor Weisskopf
Knowing that the participants left the workshop yesterday curious to work more with labyrinths and willing themselves to find out more reassures me that the workshop worked!
Linking up some strands in finger labyrinths and the tactile work inspired by the buttons and painting being too flat I commissioned a local crafter to make the tactile finger labyrinth out of wood this flow of work continues into making a finger labyrinth which I started at the workshop yesterday. It is also an an altered book project.
I wanted to make a finger labyrinth and came up with a plan. 
A few weeks ago I went hunting for a large second hand childrens board book, I knew roughly the size I wanted but I had some difficulty locating it. But found this at the Gorey indoor market second hand book stall (which by the way is a real treasure trove). It is roughly 29.5cm squared. it has a nice bumpy top and right hand border. Perfect but did n't really want to pay €4 for something I was going to cut up. So I did and it has been sitting patiently waiting in my studio to be transformed.
Yesterday during the labyrinth workshop I drew and cut out the shape - wall and path of a finger labyrinth - within the book. 
Beginning altered book finger labyrinth. Roisin Markham
I am debating should I put velvet or sandpaper or some contrasting texture for the cut out wall?
My original idea was to glue the stencil of the labyrinth to the back page and paint it white. But as I continue to work on it the ideas evolve I love that. I shall be exploring, questioning, asking, sharing and looking for your opinions.
What do you think of it with tinfoil in the background? I like the idea of it as a template or a stencil. Where children can trace the shape on to paper with crayons. originally I was thinking of something more sophisticated and grown up but I kinda like this too. It is playful. I might introduce two pages one on either side for different textures.
The path is to be placed on another page
Wall cutout and path relief. Altered book project. Roisin Markham
The plan is to work on this project in the exhibition space 'of earth and soul' on the third floor at 96 South Wexford Main Street over the weekend. I look forward to your input and having playful fun with this one.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Labyrinths and other forms of mazes

Thinking about my blog post yesterday and Rose Hughes comment about
"I also find it intriguing how a motif may capture us in our youth and continue to move and grow within ourselves throughout our lives"
I thought about all the other avenues and interests that I know now link into this area of interest: landscape mazespotagers, parterres, garden design and the places I had to visit like Chateau de Villandry in the Loire Valley, the beech maze at Russborough House, the labyrinth below the fountain in the centre of Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo. The corn maze that I loved just outside Dublin in the 90's.
I feel like I have finally given myself permission to full engage with this motif. What was it Dorothea Lange said

Pick a theme and work it to exhaustion... the subject must be something you truly love or truly hate.
Here are some pictures of the completed labyrinth made during the workshop this morning. It now awaits interaction in the exhibition space at 96 South Main Street in Wexford. Come and explore.

Labyrinth in situ 'of earth and soul' expo 2010
 I also started working on easy make finger labyrinth that I will blog about tomorrow. I'll take more shots of the detail of the Labyrinth at the weekend. Be interesting to see how people respond to it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Labyrinths and your creative or mediative process

Tomorrow I am looking forward to sharing some of my work on labyrinths at the workshop.
The shape has been dominating my work and its presence can be seen in my current exhibition online preview here.
At the opening of the exhibition a friend commented on the fact that as a teenager I was always drawing mazes and this is indeed true. I love that our connection and her knowledge of my creative work can see the link to the labyrinth and how far back it goes in my creative consciousness.
maze doodle circa 1985
Roisin Markham
As a teenager I was fascinated with Celtic knot work in both manuscripts and metal relief work reflected in such Irish treasures like the Book of Kells and Ardagh Chalice. Perhaps this is where my love of typography came from too.
After learning how to do celtic knot work I developed my own take on it for my portfolio for art college. It too evolved and became my doodle that I did idly everyday everywhere. A maze doodle that is linked to this labyrinth work even now.
Amazingly I did come across some examples of the doodle after being handed a crusty biscuit tin of old letters and photos. I love that I can share this with you so that you can see how old my link is to this topic.
For the workshop tomorrow I plan on teaching people how to draw labyrinths, and explore the idea of what it holds. I'll speak a little on what this work has brought me to insights into process, discovery and reflection on my journey living creatively every day.
Have you got an image or motif that you use, collect or it catches your curiosity?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tactile art for 'earth and soul'

You know at exhibitions there are often signs saying "Don't touch" I've long haboured a passion to make work that has a sign that says TOUCH, PLAY, Discover... an exhibition about full on engagement and tactile discovery for the sense of touch. I think that is why I originally learnt how to make felt I envisage large wall hangings of interactive art.
My exhibtion 'of earth and soul' is exactly where I am right now. But work has been evolving I'm exploring 3D. It has started with paper, photography and has moved as far as film but not quiet into 3D...
Although I have been saving a sheeps fleece to work on at the exhibition and make a felt tactile labyrinth to explore with hands.
Labyrinth path freehand drawing
For this exhibition I asked a local crafter John Kenny (you'll find him at the Coolgreaney farmers market the first Saturday of every month) who works in wood to explore and collaborate on making my designs.
I gave john the drawing and some photograph's along with a glass marble. The idea was that the blue line was to allow a third depth of a finger into the smoothness of the wood. A small glass marble to be able to roll around.
I am delighted with what John created, a carved shallow groove into sycamore wood. The piece is 31.5 x 28.5 x 2.5 cm and will be offered for play at my exhibition but will it be offered for sale? there is a question.
Finger Labyrinth 

Monday, October 11, 2010

What is painting for you ?

Twitter is an amazing communication tool - it engages people in a complex web of communication activities interlocking relationship, building diverse communication structures, tribes and all in the simplest and most effective way of 140 characters.
Anyway on Friday last I started tweeting about the preview of my exhibition, its over on the CreativeDynamix blog.
What ya mean you have n't seen it yet?
GO straight away and look here, I'll wait till you come back...
Okay what did you think? Which one do you like most? Did you leave a comment, I'd love you to leave a comment... Do you comment on peoples blogs?
@RevezNexus retweeted my preview tweet and I asked him had he had a look this was the reply
@RevezNexus  yep ...& quite like the paintings ..;-)
I thanked him for the the feedback and wished him a good weekend to which he responded
@CreativeDynamix you too creative soul..: what is painting for you?
Now that is a great question. I found myself returning to it all weekend...


  • A pure form of self expression 
  • a starting point for a conversation with you and others
  • When I start painting I just paint
  • I tell stories with colour and brush stroke
  • Often when I paint I go to a place between the earth and somewhere else, it is like a mediation - a big soul connection for me; I don't always end up in that place but when work is going well I lift a brush or open a tube of paint and I am there
  • I process things when I paint
  • I write and journal as a lead in to my painting so it is very much a layered process
  • Dynamic energetic
  • an important part of my positive mental health (my husband will tell you I'm a complete pain if I'm not painting I get full of angst and tetchy)
  • my way of making sense of my world

Where do you funnel your creative energy into? What is that choice for you?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Trusting that you do know

I paint. I journal on the paper or canvas first. Then I paint. I seldom start with an idea of the outcome in my head. This takes courage. This takes detachment. As the painting evolves sometimes quickly I follow an inner sense of knowing and go with what seems to be right. Visually I know when something is right or not. Colour is critical in my abstract paintings, forms present themselves and are typically flowing.
Yesterday morning I finished a painting that I started years ago I'm trying to remember how long ago it was four or five years. I know this because it links to a series of paintings I made titled 'Inland' and one sold at a show I curated for Microsoft Ireland in July 2005. The painting reached a point I liked but was incomplete, it has lived on and off an easel in my studio. I always knew it had potential there was something about the simplicity of the washed background and the depth of the dark green shape. The blue used to go straight and directly to the center it was never right. A few years ago I was determined to finish it, it watch over my studio from my easel for months surveying what I did there. Gently mocking me for not being able to finish it. Until yesterday I never knew how to complete this painting.
inland ii, 2005 - 2010
78 x 55 cm on 360gm watercolour paper.
I had two paintings to finish last week for my up and coming exhibition 'of earth and soul'. I worked on other things for fear that in the process of painting them I would ruin them. Of course that's happened before. I knew I had to quieten myself so I could follow my authentic voice that brings me into my creative flow. Not always easy to get into or stay when so many things require your attention like running a business or being a Mum you run on others time tables. I'm not complaining its just something I constantly work with as part of my reality when making creative work.
I hardly ever paint with white, its just not something that comes up this is buttery creamy white complimenting an almost light green gray.
I'm looking forward to taking this work to the framers Monday morning. Some of today has been spent compiling all the information documenting, measuring, naming and getting ready to push this work out in to the world. Presenting it for sale, for viewing my piece is almost done.
The second painting is green and proving impossible to photograph! it's perplexing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pulling work together

At the weekend I finalised three textiles that had been awaiting stitching and beading. I'm pleased with how they turned out. I dropped them to the framer yesterday.

Friday, September 24, 2010

what a relief

Failed freeing the labyrinth from the paper
I'm loving the comments from my twitter tribe on last Sundays blog post Labyrinths and my creative process it contains my video about 'when painting is too flat'. On Thursday I queried its increasing popularity and wondered was it down to the fact it was a video. What do you think?
What I love about finding and rediscovering ways to express, document and explore my creativity is that I'm finally moving my work on, talking, communicating and engaging myself and you in the process. So thanks for reading, listening, watching and responding - lets have more of that.
On Monday as I still could not fill my paint brushes with paint. It was hard to stay with the not knowing. Normally dedicated studio time is over brimming it is unusually for me not to know what is next. A sign of growth perhaps. Standing in that not knowing was challenging - deadline looming etc. But I knew a shift was occurring.
I started my weeks work by folding a painting to make it stand by itself. This developed into montage and collage work. Taking a failed attempt of altering a book (above) to develop the labyrinth relief and freeing it from one sheet of paper.
The raised image in the bottom left corner printed onto tissue paper very nicely so I thought making a stamp seemed like the next step. I sat cutting out the labyrinth... The two shapes the same but different half way through I thought am I cutting out the wall or the path? and I stopped and started taking photos again.

Then the relief moved from a mobile to a sculptural device that I wanted to make stand it took me a while before I found something I was happy. I wanted the semi cut labyrinth to stand tall. I tried various things and settled on a piece of blue tack and or 'glue tack' as my youngest calls it. Deciding it was not important if the a clay modeling tool was seen. With that the object became a whirly gig. I was reminded of fair grounds and twirling skirts of my youth.

The background for the whirly gig and the images of the folded painting at the beginning of this post became a finished piece of work Thursday evening but not before a transfer of this was added. A photograph of an Allium I had given a graphic treatment to. It is one of my favourite Cristophii.
Yes this morning I had a Eureka moment and the painting flowed after more on soon

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