Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Midsummer

I was fortunate enough to make it to Carrowkeel on the solstice, where the sun sets into the Cairns. (Cairn H pictured above)Above is a view of the sun shining through the roof-box into Cairn G. How incredible to stand in a monument 5000 years or so old, and have the sun come streaming in to illuminate it. (At least when the kids weren't running in and out and blocking the light!)

We were utterly awed.
You can read more about Carrowkeel at Martin Byrne's great website here. The knitted banana, in the back of Cairn G, illuminated by the sun's last rays on the longest day of the year. How much more sacred can it get?

Other midsummer activities included making rose petal jelly.Actually a jam, technically, seeing as I didn't strain it.I feel so lucky to be living in a place with enough rose bushes - and there seem to be more and more springing up everywhere I look at the moment - to make this. Its one of those things I've always dreamed of...having a garden filled with that many roses. And the amazing thing is, I haven't planted a single bush. (Yet!) What abundance in this incredible piece of land. You may also have noticed the cherries - the first delicious cherries I've had straight from a tree in Ireland. The apples and plums are also quietly nursing their little fruits. I used this recipe. Easy, delicious, highly recommended!
Pictured here on my porridge this morning.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

GOODBYE I LOVE YOU

Beauty in the Gaps Between the Horror

Here are some pictures of the show for those of you who couldn't make it. Thanks to everyone who came, and thanks for all your comments. I will include a copy of the information I left up at the show here too.


Shredded


In 2006 a close friend of mine died by suicide. The artwork in this exhibition documents my own search for meaning in the years after his death, and my search for a way to express the legacy I was left with.

His flat and all his possessions

Wishing Tree


It took a long time to begin to articulate the horrific and violent imagery that remained with me after this profoundly complicated death, in a world that was deeply uncomfortable hearing about it. Embroidery gave the words and thoughts that were so difficult to say aloud a space in which to be expressed. Somehow the softness of thread and fabric, the meditative quality of stitching, the flexibility of the finished product and the comforting nature of textiles - we use them to clothe ourselves, to wipe our tears, to rest our faces on as we sleep - made textiles the best medium through which to start conveying the violence of the images, the nightmarish quality of suicide bereavement and the horror of the act itself.


How long did you hang there?



Exhibition view

At the inquest
Align Center

From the initial use of textiles, I moved on to other text-based work, using photography and ceramics, to document memories, thoughts, emotions.

Wishing Tree, detail

It was hard to be in the room for long


Bits of his eyelashes

In my practice as an artist I use a lot of traditional and heritage crafts – embroidery, knitting, basketry - in non-traditional ways. The weight of history behind embroidery resonates deeply with me, as it is a skill handed down through the generations, over centuries of time. Yet, for a long time it was seen as unimportant, frivolous and decorative. I have chosen to use this medium to express something very real and strong that is also at times very fragile and tender, but no less important for that. I wanted to create a beautiful object, yet suffuse it with horrific images and text. My aim in juxtaposing these was to infuse embroidery with new life, whereby it is changed from something judged as “nice” and “pretty”, and really fairly inconsequential, into a medium with grit, capable of expressing grim and very real issues.

GOODBYE I LOVE YOU and Tea


GOODBYE I LOVE YOU photographs

Tea

Wishing Tree, detail

In Ireland, suicide is a taboo subject for many. This work was a process of finding a space for the thoughts very few wanted to hear or talk about, from the tiny, personal and deeply upsetting feelings sewn onto a handkerchief or pillow, to the larger, more public and celebratory messages - the GOODBYE I LOVE YOU banner.

Nightmares

Dreams

I wrote the following to a friend about grief, and the vacuum a death leaves us with:

We will learn to live with a big hole in our hearts, we will decorate it and smooth the edges off, grow plants in it. We will never fill it, but it won’t always be a dark, ragged, painful ravine.

This exhibition is my story of learning to live with that hole; about the journey of grieving – from the awfulness of the event, to the ability years later to say goodbye. It is the stuff of life and the stuff of death, and that, really, is where my interests lie – in exploring the world, looking at it, looking at the horror as well as the beauty. And there is so much beauty in the gaps between the horror.

Mourning Quilt

Photographs 3-8, and 11-15 from the amazing Unkie Dave, many thanks!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

GOODBYE I LOVE YOU


I have a solo exhibition opening in ArtMart Studios next week. It comprises work made in the aftermath of the death of a close friend by suicide. The work explores the difficulty I found expressing the feelings I was left with after this profoundly complicated death and includes embroidered images and text, photography and quilt-making.

I wrote this statement last year about the work:

Fabric and the stitched word seemed the best possible way to communicate the horrific imagery left with me after this violent event. Embroidery gave the words and thoughts that were so difficult to say aloud a space to be expressed. Somehow the softness of thread and fabric, the beauty of stitching, the flexibility of the finished product and the comforting nature of textiles - we use them to clothe ourselves, to wipe our tears, to rest our faces on as we sleep - made textiles the best medium to convey the violence of the images, the nightmarish quality of suicide bereavement and the horror of the act itself.

The exhibition runs in ArtMart Studios, 7, The Mall, Sligo from 14-19 June, opening hours 11am-5pm. There is an opening on Saturday 12th June at 7pm. Please come along if you are in the area.
The exhibition is not suitable for children.


You can read a short piece artist and curator Joetta Maue wrote about the work here.