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Weekly blog 19/10/20

Hello again! It has been a while since I have posted in this blog so I am committing to writing weekly from now on to keep you up to date with my work as it progresses towards my solo show at Blackwater Valley Makers in Fermoy in December. Hopefully the show will go ahead, but if not I will upload all the images on this website. I have included here a section of one of my drawings of a mummified bird, I think a blackbird,which I found in an abandoned cottage recently. It was quite a find! Beautiful.

Section from drawing of a mummified bird September 2020

First blog!

Hi everyone. Welcome to my blog. I am currently reading about Thomas Berry, the eco -theologian whose work I was introduced to by Dr.Cathy Fitzgerald on the recent online Ecoliteracy course. I find his words inspiring and simple yet profound and want to try and incorporate some of his ideas into my work for my exhibition in Fermoy in December 2020 at Blackwater Valley Makers. I am currently embarking on trying to make my artwork ecological in many ways – in my use of materials, in my treatment of my subject matter -the land and its multitudinous inhabitants and in my making of the artworks. Apat from this I continue to work on my bi -monthly videos for Lonradh at Home with the Crawford Art Gallery , Cork. If you have not seen any of these yet do have a look as they can be quite funny. They are amateurish but I think they are improving. You can find them on http://www.crawfordartgallery.ie/adultsandcommunities and then click on the Creative Cocooning Overview. Constructive criticism is very welcome!

The hopeful beginnings of an ecological art practice

Wildflowers and cats

I have begun to develop new  work for my December 2020 exhibition at Blackwater Valley Makers, Fermoy, Co.Cork  and  am attracted to exploring the great eco -theologian thinker and writer Thomas Berry’s ideas of the beauty, and the mystery of life and particularly his ideas of why he thought the dominant culture needs a ‘new story’ of how to live well with the wider community of life. To incorporate some of his thinking into my creative work so as to inspire others, I have picked a very small area of land (one-meter squared–1m2) which I am going to examine over a period of months. I hope to look at it with wonder and discover things I had not known and/or realised about the interconnectedness of life. I am only barely aware that another ‘world’ exists at ground level teeming with life – a microcosm of life, and have had glimpses of it at various times while being quiet and still in our garden. I
would like to observe and record my impressions of this world and my reaction to it, and see
what arises in the drawings. 

In a recent online ecoliteracy course with ecological artist-educator Dr Cathy Fitzgerald and her collaborator, philosopher Dr Nikos Patedakis, I’ve begun to understand the challenges and potential of ecological art practice. I’ve also begun to realise the centrality of developing compassion practice for myself to explore what are often overwhelming statistics and facts about how our culture currently degrades the conditions of life, to the point where the survival of human and others species are threatened. Developing a compassion practice, the benefits of which is confirmed by recent neuroscience, is I think so important so we can face the hard-to-look at consequences of a culture mindless of its own ecocidal activities.

Memory is grey exhibition is travelling to two venues in Cork city this Spring!

Following a successful show at the County Library, County Hall, Cork, my current exhibition Memory is grey is going to be shown in the Jennings Gallery, UCC from Thursday 9th  to Wednesday 29th  April 2020.

For the Bealtaine festival which celebrates and promotes creativity as we age, in the month of may Memory is grey is on display at the Cork University Art Gallery, Dining Hall corridor  from 1st to 31st May.

Some Photos from my Memory is Grey Exhibition

There was such a wonderful turnout at my recent ‘Memory is Grey Exhibition’ in Cork – it was also super to have some of my studies come by and see their finished works!

Memory is Grey – An alternative perspective on memory loss

This exhibition is based on my experience as a person and as an artist facilitator with people who happen to have some form of memory loss (and their loved ones). I have called the exhibition Memory is grey because I think that the idea of memory and its loss as being black or white, ie present or absent, is too simplistic and dehumanising. I think loss of memory is more complex and nuanced than is currently portrayed in society. I attended a meeting recently on Art and Aging and one of the speakers was a man with Alzheimer’s disease. He told the audience that his life changed when he got his dementia diagnosis – “I went into the doctor’s room with my wife as a husband, father and respected work colleague and I came out as a client/patient with my carer”.

EC        ED

Anne Basting, in her book, Forget Memory, offers an alternative view of memory loss and advocates that there are too much negativity and fear associated with memory loss in our culture and that we need to adopt a more humane, accepting and compassionate approach to what is a human condition/disability.  We are living longer and destined, in most cases, to eventually become ill and or possibly experience some memory loss, unless we are knocked down by the proverbial bus or die in our sleep. As Anne Basting argues, dementia is a human story “…not an unmitigated tragedy”.

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I asked permission of ten people with dementia/ memory loss to do their portraits and wanted to portray them as layered and rich and complicated as they themselves are. The ten people portrayed have, like everyone, pasts which are both ordinary and extraordinary. They are beloved daughters, sisters, mothers, sons, interior designers, homemakers, nurses, beauty therapists, friends and neighbours. While doing the preparatory drawings and taking photographs I got to know my sitters a little more personally and in this relaxed and quiet environment enjoyed our talk and communication together. I wondered if more times or opportunities like this could be created with people with memory loss perhaps life would be better for all of us including those of us not affected as yet by memory loss.

SB       AOF

As I imagine memory as layers which we peel back, close over, dip in and out of, add to or erase from, I decided to use layering as a method in the creation of the portraits.  I used four layers or surfaces in each portrait bar one and allowed for space between the layers, rubbing out and adding in with oil pastel continually. I used perspex sheets as I wanted to create depth and transparency so that the viewer can see from one layer to the next and build up an image that can be viewed from slightly different angles to give a more complicated three-dimensional view of the portrait.   I wondered what it would be like for me if I forgot so I did a very quick (about two minutes) memory drawing of each of the portraits and used this as my third layer.

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I invite you to look and see the individuality, the humanity and ordinariness and extraordinariness of my sitters. The portraits are not for sale and will be gifted to the sitters and their families.