Today is Tuesday the 26th March, I have had the morning off, just me and the dog, to recharge the system after what can only be described as a very hectic weekend…right now I’m sitting in a little café here in Monaghan called Kingas, sipping coffee and typing whilst my youngest attends the local hall for a class…45 minutes to tell you what I’ve been up to….On Sunday I had the pleasure of teaching my “Encaustic with an Iron” introduction class to a group in Blessington, Co. Wicklow, if you follow my social media feed and particular my stories you may have seen this already.
The group called Cruthu are a west Wicklow arts group established in 2006, they base themselves in the astoundingly beautiful Russborough House courtyard where there are a small number of workshop spaces for arts and crafts workers…including Judy Heffernan with Jemglen Jewellery, Greg Long Visual Artist, Eamonn Heffernan bog oak sculptor and BeaJordanArts, amongst others.
The site is pure magic, set in a beautiful parkland and historic house with so many amenities provided, café, maze, house tours, icecream parlour, bird of prey centre, playground, 19th Century riding school, walled gardens and a wildlife habitiat to name but a few….no photos I had the time to take would do this amazing place justice….I had 20 minutes after the class to have a wee wonder about prior to the gates being shut at 6pm on this Sunday…no time to see half of what was on offer – needless to say if you find yourself touring this neck of the woods mark this spot on the map for a full days stop – its vast and simply gorgeous.
My group, and the reason I found myself at Russborough, comprised of ten participants of mixed abilities, some artists in their own rights, others not. we even had a candle maker I chatted wax with (we wax nerd-ed off on one another lol) I presented to the group a brief history of encaustic, introduced the tools, materials and equipment we would be working with for the day (all supplied by me)had a wee chat about health and safety and then we dove straight in ….starting as I do with basic colour application, in no time at all the ladies were producing botanical inspired colourful wax flowers, shaped and painted with their craft irons and they were off. The morning progressed with several versions of work created including an introduction into my 5 step landscape, we broke for lunch provided in the beautiful and cosy onsite café.
In the afternoon after a suitable amount of re-caffination, we had another walk through of the techniques applied in the morning session to re-inforce the learning. Then the participants had time to further develop their works and get creative…Iater I gave a demonstration on the creation of candle images using the iron (how could we not with a candle maker in the house) and everyone had a go before clearing up, mounting a number of works each and heading off for the evening.
We simply couldn’t believe how quickly those four hours had passed and with a little tech difficulty courtesy of my new sum-up machine finally a number of people even headed off with kits of their own to experiment and develop their skills – a delightful group to work with, I enjoyed the class immensely and would be very happy to visit with them again such was the enthusiasm for the session.
After packing up the car and preparing for the long drive home I had little time to explore the site for photographs as I mentioned before, however I do intend to revisit and really explore and when I get that chance I will share here x
Connected at the Copperhouse - an update
So last you heard from me I shared a wee process video ahead of my part in the group exhibition called Connected@thecopperhouse (through all social media channels follow #connected12 to see images and updates from the entire gambit of artists involved) the work was broad ranging, mixed media, advanced paper works, clay, encaustic, watercolour, graphic portraiture and photography and as mentioned before it was colourful, it was THANKFULLY a packed house AND it was fun….
I was ever so grateful to see a couple of familiar faces, family and friends pop in to lend their support. I landed a tidy commission I shall tell you more about another time but for now want to give a shout out to Mark at The Copperhouse Gallery for his support, Tara Prendergast from Biscuit for the support and to Monica Loughman for opening for us on the night. I especially want to thank the following artists for their comradeship and for the opportunity to show along side of ye all – a good bunch – cheers ladies x
Ana Dorado, Emma Higgins, Deborah Cogley, Karen Hickey, Isabelle Gaborit, Miriam Fitzgerald Juskova, Angela Emsen-West, Liga Valge, Rachel McDermott, Valerie Sweeney and Fran Halpin.
Here I am again wanting to tell you about yet another wonderful exhibition I am happy to have my work included in and a rather fun opening reception I was happy to attend.
I was very fortunate a few years ago to have an opportunity to apply to Fermanagh and Omagh District Council for entry into their annual 1ft sq show, its exactly as it says on the tin, all works exhibited must adhere to the rule of these dimensions and after that, what you produce and present for selection is up to you. In the earlier days of my work, this suited me very much as I preferred to work to a smaller scale. Excitingly my work was accepted for inclusion on my first application back in 2013 and I have submitted a new work (or several indeed) every year since with the same success. The absolute joy of my inclusion to this show is in the variety and span of art and artists I become exposed to through association. I have forged friendships, learned from and admired much of what I have come in contact with, and all under the eye of Arts Officer Di Henshaw.
This year there was a change in the usual procedure, the exhibition was still a submission call, however, the venue had changed. Originally this annual exhibition (now in its 11th year) was shown at the Higher Bridges Gallery in The Clinton Centre in Enniskillen Town but for various reasons, not least I am sure to the huge growth in numbers applying and its ongoing success (over 144 works on show this year) this year the exhibition was shown and opened at the wonderful Strule Arts Centre in the Centre of Omagh. The opening reception was held at Strule on 14th December last and was opened by the Chairman of the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council Howard Thornton. The show ran through the Christmas period until the 12th January 2019. The images in the slideshow above are from that very night.
Just most recently, last Friday, in fact, I found myself traveling to Enniskillen yet again as the exhibition was on the move to the most gorgeous of surroundings the wonderful Hambly and Hambly Gallery at Dunbar House. The evening was to be kicked off with the usual mingling and viewing of works with a glass in hand although this time to the very pleasant accompaniment of invited Jazz pianist Jonathan Beattie.
Later we were officially welcomed to the show by Gallerist Ciara Hambly followed by an update as to the Arts Councils services in the region by Arts Service Manager Bryony May. Hambly and Hambly and the local arts council team organise regular arts gatherings and with the dates coinciding, visitors from the Artsland International Artist in Residence Programme; Nancy L Cook and Deidre Hierhily were in attendance to tell us a little about their works (Writer and Visual Artist respectively) and experiences on these particular residencies to date.
Both informative and entertaining, Deidre Hierhily discussed with us (accompanied by projections of her work) her interest in the linoprint making process and the importance of the graphic qualities this media brings that informs itself in her work. From Canada and currently working on a 4month residency at Aughakillyaude in Fermanagh, Deidre's works included marvelous images of Geese, landscapes which are 3 meters in size in some instances and a new body of work leading on from the Geese to the wonderful Magpie!!! Its monochromatic markings lending beautifully to Deidre's love of linoprint, she had wonderful examples of this work with colourful chin-colle hung for our consideration.
Next, we heard the poignant and beautiful readings of Nancy L. Cook. Nancy from the USA is currently on residency at the An Creagan centre in Omagh, working both on her personal writings and additionally engaged in an outreach program with a local national school,. My youngest son (aged 10) attended with me and had spent quite some time chatting with Nancy earlier in the evening and by the end of the night we both decided we loved her a little...for your pleasures please read some of Nancy's marvelous work which you will find on her website linked above.
As for my own work it was beautifully exhibited in one of the many quirky rooms, delightfully it doubles up as a wine cellar - this is an interesting, beautiful gallery with great works on offer - go see.
Below are pictures from the opening at Hambly and Hambly, the exhibition runs until 9th March 2019 opening Monday - Fri 10am- 4pm and Saturday 11am-3pm.
You may have seen on my social media feeds last week that I was very much looking forward to being in attendance with curator Dorothy Smith at the Droichead Arts Centre in Co.Louth for the talk and tour of the selected group show "Printworks".
I have mentioned before how good this show is, how phenomenal the work is, how wonderful the curation was, Dorothy's eye for pulling creative exploratory printmaking works together and turning it into a cohesive and impressive show has to be applauded.
The breadth of work and techniques simply have to be seen, works in stone litho, linocut, screenprint, woodcut, drypoint, etching, monotype, monoprint, even dimensional and mixed media exploratory printmaking, all selected from this North East region simply proves the depth of interest in printmaking is alive and well.
For details of the artists involved and other information concerning the show please visit website here
There is always something interesting (and quite special in fact) about meeting the artists involved in the creation of work at any good exhibition and to hear Dorothy speak about how she selected the works was very interesting.
To have members of the public there to put questions to the artists in attendance is also of the upmost importance, we artists have a tendency to live in a little bubble amongst ourselves, we understand or at least have familiarity with some of these techniques and the processes involved in the creation of these works, to hear the answers to the questions asked in a room with a mixed audience of this type was both informative interesting and entertaining at times, and it definitely enhances the viewers understanding, and dare I say it, the appreciation of the work on offer.
Of course as photographer for this blog I have no photos of myself with my own work but I will update this page if one becomes available through the gallery.
Earlier that morning still at the Droichead in Co Louth, I had been invited to teach and Encaustic monotype class to a group from Navan Youthreach as part of the outreach program connected to this exhibition. the small group of graphic design students along with their tutor joined me in the newly reopened print studio called "the yard" found to the rear of Barlow house.
This is an old studio space, two rooms in total with excellent lighting and a printing press the size of a double bed that I nearly swooned at... Not that I would get to use it that day. My process involves using heated pallets, a matrix plate, several mark making tools (both purchased and handmade or repurposed), personal protective clothing and a selection of waxes, some ready manufactuted and premixed others made by myself in bulk on my recent residency in Cill rialaig.
My first port of call on meeting the students was to discuss health and safety always important when working with heat and wax. I gave them a brief introduction to paper selection & the processes involved, along with the use of waxes and how a translucent opaque or metallic pigment suspended in wax may react differently on contact with the plate...I introduced and we discussed the differences between monotype and monoprint. Additive and reductive processes and trace monoprint with encaustic.
Each student was then given a demonstration on how to measure the temperature of their plate and control it, how to apply the medium to the matrix plate, the use of the mark making tools provided with emphasis on them using their intuition and creativity and allowing that to bring them where it may. And then they were off! It was a fun and successful class I do sincerely hope the Youthreach students from Navan enjoyed their day, I certainly did...there is something marvellous about watching people come to terms with the new medium and then start to explore it on their own. It is wonderful to see them come alive with possibility and additionally wonderful to see them leave with several works they are pround of.
The show printworks continue in the Droichead Arts Centre in Drogheda County Louth until march 2nd.
Contemporary Visual Artist working in mixed media/encaustic based in the drumlins of Co.Monaghan. Ireland.