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For as long as I can remember I have sought a way in which I can express myself where words had failed in the past. When I was just seventeen, in my hometown of Galway, a friend and I decided that we were going to put on our own art show. I had been working on some very rudimentary abstract ‘ink on paper’ doodles, my friend made a series of mobiles from Coca-Cola cans in varying degrees of deconstruction hanging in clusters. Between us there wasn’t a lick of experience, we were flying blind and high on the fact that we were going to go for it! As you might imagine, there wasn’t enough there to take the local art clique by storm. Then again, that was never the point. We simply wanted to see if we could pull it off.

We contacted the head of charitable donations for the arts at our local big-business concern, Digital. We pitched our idea, showing him a few of our masterpieces and promised in return for their generous support, we’d prominently display their logo on any and all leaflets, posters and programs promoting the event! Looking us up and down, he agreed to make a small donation on the single condition – we weren’t in any way, shape or form to mention Digital’s support including the use of their logo. We did not mind; now we had the cash to serve cheese and wine, making this a ‘real’ art gallery opening.
With my abstract ink on paper doodles in tow, I begged a cousin’s framing shop owner boyfriend to help me frame my pieces, about fifteen in total. He reluctantly agreed. For the space, we rented the tower from the fisheries authority. It was on the bridge crossing the river Corrib leading to the sea. We invited all the people we knew to come and see our work. The reception was mixed, some said they liked the work but most asked “what is it all about?”, getting no real answer from either of us because we were too distracted with the party with complimentary wine on the first floor! The guest book was a dozen or so pieces of copy paper bound with packing tape, the cover a photocopied image of our flyer. Twenty years later, this book remains one of my favorite tangible memories.

Time and experience have shown me how very little I knew then, yet it was a taste of where and what I wanted to be and do. For the longest time I forgot the leap had been taken way back then. I had put away the notion and the desire to create as I moved into the working world, and it got pushed father and farther away until it was completely forgotten. As they say, with age comes wisdom; I see now that the pursuit of creativity is not only valid but imperative. All the material that has been simmering in the background has now been reduced to a fine liquor that seems to increase in intensity as time goes on, and like a good story it gets better with the telling. I feel lucky to have the support of family and friends, honesty from those closest to me has kept me grounded and focused.

A number of people tell me my work has something to say. Now, what is it I wish to declare? I continue to learn how to communicate though this medium. I am still on an intense learning curve… I believe this is an eternal curve for us all. There is little more satisfying than to converse with someone about my work and to witness them genuinely moved and excited in some way. Of all the benefits I acquire through this craft, the one that gives me the biggest tickle is watching someone study one of my pieces. The multi-dimensional aspect of my work plays well into the complex and multi-faceted aspects of the viewer. Because each viewer is totally different my work assumes infinite viewing possibilities. I take pleasure in watching people move from piece to piece, noticing as their emotions change from one sculpture to the next. When they turn to look at me, there is inevitably both questioning and answering on their face. A chord is struck, a note of fleeting recognition passes over them for a moment, only to be replaced with a question. How did you…? Why did you…? or Did you intend to…?

In the twenty four hours that are in a day we spend an average of eight of those hours asleep leaving sixteen. How much time, do you think, of those sixteen are we truly conscious of the very moment we are in? I’m not convinced it is even the majority. We daydream and plan for future events. We reminisce about the past while worrying about this and that. Where are we then when one drifts away from the here and now? The more I’ve thought about it is seems to me there is more time away than time spent knowing the now. And yet we take this space and time we spend the least time in and call it reality. Why does that strike me as odd? To me they are as real as each other.

I have remained isolated for so many years; self imposed I now see. I feel focused in a way I have never experienced before. I feel as though I have found an outlet with which to communicate with the outside world in a way words could not match. Yet at the same time it has a language all its own with equally subtle nuances of phrase and emotion. It has taken me more than a decade to realize that I have been picking up a phrase or two here and there since I was born. It is an intrinsic ability to illustrate a thread of a picture we all know. To strike that chord is such an accomplishment.

Taking the leap was not an impulse; it was a culmination of many things and more importantly the support of those around me. As I worked toward getting my first open studio together I persistently reminded myself of a great lesson I continue to work on: it is not about the destination, the juicy bits are in the journey. It is difficult to maintain this view when one is in the throws of a project because one has to remain focused on the destination; in my case transforming my shed into a studio. At the same time, there is a marvellous sensation in pausing every now and then to take notice of the deep pleasure in the work itself. I try to adopt a Zen like approach to the entire process taking care to not miss out on all the gems along the way, endeavouring to maintain a view of the destination while still holding focus on the road there. So, although the process was hectic, it was made more pleasurable by remaining focused on why I was doing all this, to take the leap! To take that first step in a journey of a thousand miles… Was it all worth it? Absolutely! Would I do it again? I’m already working on it!

There are several projects in the works now, all in varying stages of being. The most exciting of late has to be that of consciously focusing on the journey. This goes beyond the art itself and looks at the process as a means of self guided meditation. The results have astounded even my fiercest critic; myself. I sometimes look at my own work and ask myself how it makes me feel. I mean really feel. There are most definitely notes of detachment and unfamiliarity, but the overall melody is spiritual, the offering of a glimpse inside which echoes in all of us. Even though it is a face you do not recognize you look at it time and time again each time saying: do I know you?

One Comment
  1. Like you I was creative at an early age but it got pushed way down the list of priorities on Life’s list of family, kids, work , study and other commitments.

    At the moment I still have all of these on the list and more, but and trying to squeeze a few things up to make space for creativity again….

    … the first drips are appearing at the cracks and when I have more time the dam will break and there will be a gush of outworking of all the ideas that are crammed into my brain.

    So much to do and so little lifetime…:)

    Excellent that you are releasing your creative spirit… and I laughed at this bit “on the single condition – we weren’t in any way, shape or form to mention Digital’s support including the use of their logo…”

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