Friday, December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela

It was with sadness that I heard of the death of Nelson Mandela today. What an inspirational man - we can only hope to have more like him. I have strong emotional memories of his release from prison in 1990 and below is a poem my mother wrote at that time, with a few words from her about it. Many thanks to Dolores for allowing me to print it here. I cannot think of Nelson Mandela without thinking of my mother's involvement in the Irish Anti Apartheid Movement and her desire to write about injustice, in the hopes of being a small cog in the big machine of change. I am so grateful to her for opening my eyes to the world and teaching me to care. She traveled widely and interviewed many witnesses who suffered under the Apartheid regime as research for a book she subsequently wrote. Hearing her stories and the stories of those who fought against apartheid was one of the most valuable parts of my education. 


Upon Nelson Mandela’s release from Robben Island in 1990, the late Kadar Asmal of the Irish Anti Apartheid Movement asked me to write a poem marking the occasion, which I did. The poem was published in a commemorative magazine published by the Irish Anti Apartheid Movement at the time. 
It was also read by the actress Ruth Rosen for Nelson Mandela at a packed Wembley Stadium in London, and at his tribute concert in the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin.

Dear President-Elect

Your crown of old snow
tells us how you have
wintered in a
wasteland not of
your own making.

But now at last you
come among us
resurrect, a man whose
cross is buried in his
eyes.  All Africa toyi-toyis,
heaves her welcome as
you stand, arms held
wide, three decades long
crucified, your words
telling again the old
hard story of every
cell where the small
bird beats for freedom:
“there too, lies Mandela.” 

Dolores Walshe

Friday, November 29, 2013

Felt Cloud Mobile Kit give away

I've just listed my Felt Cloud Mobile Kit on Etsy, in honour of the cloudy weather we have been having here lately.

 And even better, I am giving a kit away on facebook.

To enter go to my facebook page and either share the post, like my page or sign up here on my blog to my email newsletter. Just leave a comment on my facebook page to say you have done one of these and I will randomly select a winner on Tuesday. All the details are on facebook.

The kit will teach you how to wet-felt and has everything you need to make a lovely wool cloud mobile.

I'm proud of this kit as it is totally made from sustainable materials and the entire kit is compostable (not that you'd want to compost it particularly) - instead of polyfil stuffing it uses combed fleece from Texel sheep. 
There are more details about the kit in my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wovember continues...

...and the woolly activities do too.

Thanks to team Wovember for publishing my story of spinning Jake's wool over on the Wovember site. Lots of great woolly articles up there for your perusal. It will likely take me 'til next Wovember to manage to read them all!

In other sheep-related news, the ladies have been carted off in our rather shoddy lets-pretend-its-an-animal-trailer-even-though-we-used-a-louvred-door-to-make-part-of-it affair. Thankfully, they arrived intact.
 They have gone to our awesome neighbours to visit Umber - a ram we have borrowed from another farm, who sadly is showing very little interest in them, despite much playing of romantic choonz...and tips for getting sheep in the mood?
 Csibi the goat has gone to visit Chuck the Buck...but that's another story, suffice to say all seems to be progressing smoothly on the goat romance.
 Not wool -related, but chickens have been found throughout my Dad's house. Nothing new there.
 As part of the Wovember WAL (Wool-a-long) I have dragged Scaredycat's fleece out and am spinning a range of greys from her wool. Mmmmm....squishy goodness. Going is slow to be honest with everything else that needs doing at the moment, but it's at least nice to do a bit and get some spinning mojo back.

Also not wool related, but bongos have been acquired, much to someone's gratitude. A classic Lidl purchase - I went in for olives and came out with bongos. Which reminds me of the Ballad of Lidl and Aldi - definitely worth a listen if you haven't come across it.

Felt fairies have been made in time for Christmas. I will be doing a stall at the Dock market in Carrick on Shannon, on the 15th and 16th of December, and there are some up in the Etsy shop too.

 And I managed to finally finish a hat for my amazing neighbour from her sheep's wool. All that was left to do was to block it (thats kind of like washing it for those of you not wool-wise) but somehow that took me forever. 

That's all the woolly news for now, more to come!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Three sounds, three volumes

I had to make a lot of extra cards for my own piece in the Hunter's Moon Score Trail.
People chose to interpret it in different ways, some using my framework and some using their own. There are some examples below.
The whole project made me think of how I look at things and how composers look at things and what the differences are. It made me realise that I look at graphic scores from more of a visual standpoint and composers read them totally differently - as a code for making sound primarily. It was interesting to see how many members of the public used my cards to make a score whose primary focus seemed to be the visual. It was obvious some really thought about sound and thought about representing that sound with this frawework I had supplied. And some made an interesting image which also happened to be a score!

It is hard to break away from your primary discipline but it was a great exercise in trying!

Hunter's Moon Art Trail 2013

This was the last year of the festival - at least in its present form, so we had to party extra hard this year. (Or at least as extra-hard as it gets with a toddler in tow...)
Some pictures from the Art Trail below...

Above is Sam Salem's meditative video installation which had two different screens showing footage taken in a Roscommon forest. Slow-motion views of the wind moving through the branches and typically Irish dramatic light changes went with a gentle and evocative sound piece.

Stephen Rennicks had a whole booth with information about his intriguing and humourous alternative guide to County Leitrim, where fact mixed with fiction to leave you wondering what was real and what was fantasy. 

Striking black and white drawings from Alan Doyle.

Above are Cian O'Neill's delicate and detailed drawings using microscopic images of plants as source material. (Hard to photograph the amazing detail!)

Ciaran Og Arnold had a series of black and white photographs of Ballinasloe during the night. They had that beautiful rich image quality that only comes with analogue photography.

Cormac O'Leary had a series of paintings called the Halloween Mummers - dark works of people dressed in strange costumes.

Gavin Porter had a series of detailed and well-crafted etchings.

McLoughlinPhelan had a video piece with some beautiful imagery and interesting sound recordings.

Above are Katie O'Neill's nature-inspired prints.

Roisin McNamee had an interesting piece involving knotted cotton cord and electronic components.

I spent some nice moments sitting on a cosy couch listening to Natalia Beylis's daily field recording diary.

Its hard to believe that was the last year of such an amazing festival. It was great to see so many amazing performers and artists converge on our tiny town. I'll miss it!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hunter's Moon Score Trail 2013

Here are all the scores and artwork from the Score Trail. I will post about the other art separately. It was a lot of fun doing the Score Trail. I worked together with my sister, Jennifer Walshe. We asked composers to send us text or graphic scores to display in shop windows. We then sent artists one score each and asked them to make a work in response to it. I loved getting emails and packages in the post containing some really awesome work! 

Here is the map above and a link to a pdf of all of the work if you would like to see the originals. Click on any images to embiggen.

Below I've put some pictures up of all the work in situ. We printed out labels with QR codes that people with smart phones could scan which would take them to sites about the composers/artists and in particular to performances of the pieces where possible.

Istvan Zelenka sent us these thoughtful text scores (above) to which Sandra Lulei responded with layered and embroidered drawings below:

 Pictured above is one of Amnon Wolman's graphic scores (left) with Felicity Ford's postcard-sized scores in response. I love how Felicity tries to untangle the mystery of the image in Amnon's score with her descriptions of different actions involving knitting needles, matches, pins and combs.

 Karen Power sent us an excerpt from her score armed only with nuts.

 James Saunders made a piece especially for the festival - location composite #4 - which is hidden inside a book in one of the bookshops. Festival-goers are invited to write the sounds they hear on sheets of paper hidden in the book. The resultant score will hopefully be performed over the weekend.

My own work gave people a chance to create their own score to take home or leave on the wall.

Jennifer Walshe's score was printed on a t-shirt and hung in a charity shop window. We may see it on Sunday being worn by a Carrick on Shannon farmer, having been accidentally purchased from the shop.

 Paul McGuire's score Underpass Anxiety was presented...well, in an underpass aptly enough...

 Danny McCarthy made this beautiful book for the festival, which we will be turning the pages of each day.

Anton Lukoszevieze sent us a score based on what looks like an image of a Russian circuit board called Music for Orchestra.

Joe Kudirka sent us some delicate and beautifully textured sheets of handmade paper - there are all sorts of interesting material in them - hair, foil, etc.

Anthony Kelly made this score for us. I like how he allows the performer to choose their own way to interpret his image.

Travis Just sent us his score Basketball Duo, for two performers with basketballs, which Gavin Porter made a print in response to. I really like how these two work together.

John Godfrey sent us a score called Tinting Study. It is quite a subtle visual work as well as being an interesting score.

Tomomi Adachi sent a bold graphic score for piano and two graters. (I'm thinking this didn't work out too good for the piano.) I like how Vicky Langan responded, using a grater on cardboard and a piano string to create her sculptural piece. 

Alvin Curran sent us this piece which reminds me of a diagram of how to do the fox trot. I'd like to see this one performed.

D. Edward Davis sent us a thoughtful excercise in listening to which Natalia Beylis responded with a sweet drawing.

And finally we have Mouthpiece I from Erin Gee. I love the video of this piece. It reminds me of Beckett. 

And another finally...there is a mystery score out there folks! The first 10 people who find it and report back to the Box Office with the title of it get a free copy of Felicity Ford's 6 postcard scores. Whooppee!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Three sounds, three volumes

For the Hunter's Moon Score Trail I decided to make a piece that lets the public create their own compositions within parameters I set. 

I really like the democratic nature of text scores - how anyone can perform the scores. The scores we have for the festival vary widely in how precise or vague they are. (More about them all next week.) Some give precise instructions for the performer to follow and some allow the performer to really follow their own lead. This must lead to some huge variations in performances.

I wanted to give the public a chance to make their own score, with sounds they chose, but within a framework I set for them. Participants are asked to take a card and fill it out.

Then they take three stamps (from a set I made specially for this) and assign a sound to each one.
They are to use three different colour stamp pads and assign a different volume to each colour. This is all noted on the card. 

They are asked then to draw a line representing the path their piece will take and stamp along this line to create their own score. They can then perform their piece.

I'll be interested to see how people respond to it next week at the festival. I'll also be interested to see if my stamps have an influence on the sounds people choose. I went with Hunter's Moon-themed stamps -  there is a moon, a star, an animal skull, etc.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Cider with....well, us.

 This amazing summer has given us so much for such little effort. (Yeah, okay, no effort to be honest.)
So finally, after being here several years we have managed to press our apples - hooray!
 We had some help. Dealing with large tubs full of apples is a very popular toddler activity. So popular we've been finding apples in various locations ever since.
We borrowed a press from our very lovely neighbours. (Thanks guys!)
We first tried with apples we had chopped up - this didn't work, so the blender was brought out. A quick go in the blender reduced the apples to a pulp and once we pressed that we got loads of juice. A gallon in fact. It is in the freezer now, awaiting being made into cider! Yippee!

Beautiful starry apples!
And did I mention it is absolutely gorgeous? An amazing, tangy, full flavour. Its a bit on the brown side from the apples oxidising but it makes up for that with its phenomenal flavour.