Monday, May 30, 2016

The last few months...

As I said in my previous post, I've set myself a little task this year. And like most people's New Year's Resolutions, mine has gone a tad askew. I haven't taken a photo every single day, but mostly I have. This is partly due to a hip injury that put most of March out the window, and a trip to Australia in April, that turned my daily routine on it's head. But now that I'm home, and in a new routine (with a proper job and everything ;) !) I can get back to doing nonsense like making collages of the months of the year.


You'll notice that there are not 31 pictures in this college, because I spent most of the month either sitting, lying down or at physio. Fun times. And proof that it doesn't matter how fit you are, or you think you are, you can still pull a muscle you never heard of, doing hardly anything out of the ordinary. 


Luckily, the zillion hour flight to Oz, mixed with the extreme heat and slow pace completely cured my hip (I don't know, but I'm going with it). I took LOADS of pictures, but this is a good recap of all the main bits.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

February round-up

The shortest month of the year is over, and Spring's here visibly on the ground and the trees, if not so much in the air. I have been curtailed over the last few weeks, due to an injury, but I've been getting plenty of work done from my settee and desk. Two trips to the beach and some long overdue family time, as well as playing around with some techniques I haven't used in years, and a commission.

Monday, February 1, 2016


I set myself a little side project for the year, just for fun, as a way to document what I am doing, a sort of visual diary. There are large sections of 2015 that I draw a blank over, I am hoping this will help me remember what I have done.
So every day I will take at least one picture, preferably something that will sum up the day, and at the end of the month, I will compile them, like above, and post them here, and over on fb.
I'm hoping I will learn some things from doing this. Common themes, colours, patterns.

Monday, September 21, 2015

September... ?!

It's hard to believe it's nearly the end of September already. The summer has simply flown (mostly because it took place during two weeks in April) and a scattering of days here and there. But like most summers, most of my time has been spent in the garden, even if that time has been cold and wet. And while I watched horizontal sheets of cold rain beating down, things did grow. Amazingly. Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me. Flowers and vegetables I've never grown before, took off with little or no effort, while my courgettes (something I've never thought much about) failed was simply too cold.
So it has been a long, busy summer, in spite of the challenging weather. And like every summer (other than the zine fair) the art side of things, has been quiet-ish. I have been sneaking in some filming and I have a loose outline for a performance piece, but no drawings as such. I suppose, at the moment, I am at a thinking/planning/research phase in my own work, which is just as important as work WORK.
Anyway, here's a quick recap of what I've been up to:

The young garden, beetroot, fennel and onions. All of which looks more like a jungle now.

Field orchid

Trip to Kylemore Abbey <3 p="">

Aloe in the walled garden

Our usual entrance, and probably the reason why I am obsessed with *that* colour.

Patricia Piccinini' s magical show Relativity, part of the Galway International Arts Festival

Achil Henge, much more impressive than I was led to believe.

Fifth annual Dublin Zine Fair, two wonderful days spent in Dublin

Boo, with the zine hoard.

Scabious and heather

Bare ridges, waiting for garlic planting season.

What I think is Cladonia floerkeana, after it's spores have formed and finished.

Fox Moth baby

Boo, soaked from the long grass

Heart shaped cloud, because life is good!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dublin Zine Fair 2015

I am so pleased to be taking part in this year's 5th annual Dublin Zine Fair, in the Chocolate Factory, on the 15 and 16th of August.
This will be my second time attending in person, but I have had my work there many times before with my friend
This year I have a brand new zine, a tiny cookbook entitled Eat Me, a compilation of found recipes and my own experimentations in the kitchen. I also have prints, hama bead brooches, and few tricks up my sleeve. Check out the little interview I did for them - a very sweet way to promote all the stallholders' work and get the message out there! Check out their blog and like them on facebook for more updates in the lead up to the event.
It's not often you get the chance to meet the artists behind the work you love, or quiz people on their method or message. The zine fair provides that platform for interaction and connection. There will also be workshops on the days and plenty more things in store. It has always been a lovely thing to take part it, so hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Follow the Peacock Pheasant to my portfolio to see old work, new work, and everything in between.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Comedy. Tragedy.

The eclipse on Friday was quite wonderful. I haven’t seen one since I was a kid, and usually our celestial displays in Ireland are covered by cloud soup. It was magical, but as the circle of the moon was outlined by a thin ring of sun, I couldn’t help feel a pang of sadness. Me, a tiny human, spinning on this lovely spherical rock, hanging in infinite space, while all these processes go on – unknown, unseen, uncontrolled by the ‘all powerful’ humans we think we are. I felt very small and insignificant, in the best possible way – there’s nothing like a celestial display to give you some perspective. I am so lucky, I really am. While I was out staring at the sun, hundreds of thousands of people across the globe were doing things like surviving, no more interested in what was going on up in the sky than our dear President is about sorting out this water business…

The Right2Water march was on Saturday in Dublin, and after an enjoyable bus journey with my comrades, the sun came out and with it, the heat. People from all across the country, from all walks of life, converged on Dublin. We started at Heuston Station, and as we made our way to O’Connell street others joined us from side streets and communities, complete with banners waving and slogans singing. The solidarity, the atmosphere, the connection, the sense of purpose, the sense of occasion, the goodness, the cheers when more joined, the applause when the Greek Solidarity crowed linked up with us…it made me proud to be human, to be a citizen of the world, to be there, to be present, to be right where I was meant to be…

When we got to O’Connell Street, there were several large screens along the middle island with speakers. There were speeches and spoken word pieces. They started off proceedings with this, which I have seen a couple of times already. Maybe it was the atmosphere or the sense of occasion, the music or the fact that is was being blasted in out nation's capital, but I found the piece quite moving. Injustice is something I have a massive problem with. It is something that I feel as a twist in my guts and a lump in my throat. Watching the piece, the injustice of everything, everything happening across the world was so palpable, I felt like Storm and Rogue and Phoenix all rolled into one. I could have created a thunderstorm, or set the street alight just with rage alone. Because it simply is not fair. But not only was I so enraged that you could have siphoned it off to power a city, a hollow sadness came over me – what is the point, what does it all mean, what does it all matter, how are we going to fix it, how did we get to this point in the first place, why are society’s most vulnerable always the ones to be victimized? ? ? ? ?

Once the crowd began to clear, something that never seems to take as long as you think it would; like the difference between hanging an exhibition of work and then taking it down - the set up always takes much MUCH longer.
So the crowd disappeared, like a flash mob, into shops and onto busses and side streets. We made our own way in the direction of the 79, only to come across the start of a sit down. Which I was so pleased about. When you are watching from a distance, real revolution, happening in America and across Europe, our own tame little walks down the quays looks well…weak. I know, I know what they say. There’s no need for it in a civilized country (which is a debatable point when you have 500 people waiting in hospital corridors and families being thrown out of their houses every week). But simply diverting traffic and ‘footfall’ into shops for 3 hours doesn’t really cut it for me. You do need a bit of an unexpected spectacle for morale, if nothing else. You can blame it on the fluoride in the water, the chemicals they spray over us from on high, or centuries of foreign oppression (which is still happening by the way, it’s just for-the-greater-good-Europe doing the oppressing now) but this nation is populated with very apathetic, beaten, blinkered, uninterested and jaded citizens. So to see a woman in her 50s stop a city bus, force it to reverse, and sit herself down was quite powerful. More joined her. People gathered on the corners, at the statue, all eyes and cameras focused and recording what happened next, just waiting for the guards to land and whip out the pepper spray (which they are using more and more). It was a very peaceful 45mins or so. Everyone just waiting. The atmosphere was rather calm I thought. The guards, seeing that all eyes were actually on them, just pottered about, trying to gently reason with the participants of the sit down. If I had been a free agent on Saturday, I would have sat down too (should have, would have, could have – word weapons we use on ourselves on a daily basis…next time). But I was present. I was blocking traffic. I was a witness. A human rights observer.

It’s quite moving to witness what people power can actually do. We are balls of electricity, energy, and we have such potential for positivity and good. We simply need to choose to tap into that reserve, instead of defaulting to the negative the whole time. We are our own worse enemies. We can, and do do, the most amazing things when they are done with love, with positivity, with good intentions, with goodness.

I spent Saturday evening handwriting my mantra cards for Independents Day. I left them to do Saturday night purposefully, because I knew I would need to do something practical and grounding after being high as a kite all day. It was lovely, sitting at Roisin’s kitchen table, with Bud checking up on me every so often, handwriting these little collection of different types of paper I’ve been hoarding for years. I had hand cut them with rounded corners while still in Mayo, but the rest I did in Inchicore.


Sunday morning I woke at my usual early bird time, to the sun streaming in through the back windows of the kitchen, and a sheltie sheepdog stealing the surplus duvet that had been living on the floor all night. I made tea and bananas on toast, grabbed Olaf Tyrarnsen’s The Consequences of Slaughtering Butterflies off the nearest bookshelf and sat out in the most glorious sun spot in the garden of Rois’ house. When the sun comes out you’d swear we were part of the continent, it is so glorious. I sat and soaked up the rays, and stretched and breathed and mentally prepared myself for whatever, absorbing the blue, creating vitamin D and smiling at Bud every few seconds – old dogs are lovely. I read all of Olaf’s poems, more on that in a bit – it will all make sense in a moment ! – and really enjoyed them. It was quite fitting, considering the weekend that was in it, and I would highly recommend.

Deer Jane appeared with tea and porridge and sitting down next to me we noticed that once again, we were on point: dark dress with bird print, check! sky blue nail polish, check! circular beads in matte colours necklace, check! hair up, double check! Load us up and take us to Independents Day !!!

Independents Day is held in the Dublin Food Co-Op. You enter through a sky blue door (I love it) which you could easily go past…we actually did. The Co-Op is one of those places I would be frequenting if I lived in Dublin. It’s quite grungy, earthy, do it yourself, real…something I think we need more of, need to be encouraging, need to be engaging in and embracing. I would love to pop in and see it in action when it’s doing it’s every day sort of vibe, I’d say it’s a lovely meeting place and great spot to pick up a few nice bits.
It took us about 0.05 seconds to spot the two heads from Splitting Borders (f.y.i prepare yourself for some unashamed fangirling in a second) and assess the lay of the land, it’s a lovely open space with super high ceilings, and a really airy feel, light just streams in from everywhere and there was a great buzz in the place.
YAY   S.P.L.I.T.T.I.N.G.  B.O.R.D.E.R.S.  these two, firstly, stop reading this right now and head over to their site because you’ll thank me, and I’ll be happy.

Fangirl section

Good, right, ok. This was my first time meeting Sadhbh and Gary, which doesn’t feel accurate because I felt that I already knew them, through their amazing work, and being sort of in touch with them over the last few months/since the last fair (time, what is it anyway?!). I can’t remember the last time I met such lovely people. They are the loveliest people. Lovely, supremely talented, genuine, down-to-mother-earth sort of people. But of course I knew that they would be, they would have to be in order to make the kind of work that they do.
Magical, sort of peepy work, that has it’s roots in truth, but spins it all it such a darkly humorous way that you feel that the world they create is real. I want to believe that it is real. It restores my faith in humanity, makes me smile, laugh out loud, taps into some deep emotional stuff, and always looks fresh and new no matter how often I look at it. I love it, can you tell?

They treated me to coffee, (the sweethearts) which seemed to be flown in from Kenya, and we chatted and admired each others work. The day itself was, I think a massive success. There was a steady flow of people all day, musicians playing, screenings and workshops going on all the time, and loads of really interesting folk.
Something really lovely happened to me actually. This dude picked up my business post card, looked at the name, and at me and sort of quizzically asked:

Are you ShelkyBean?
I follow you on Tumblr
:que me excitingly getting to my feet, and knocking over everything:
(I was extremely clumsy Sunday and actually banged my hand on the table so hard that I thought I broke it. I didn't, but I have bruised the bone...which seems to be a running theme at the moment)

This was SO nice. It’s so nice to know that there are people out there who I don’t know personally, who see my work and like it. They like it because they like it, not because they know me and have some misplaced allegiance, liking it because they feel they have to.
So that was special.
Him and Splitting Borders – my cup runneth the hell over.

Cap comes off to all involved in organizing and running the fair. I know it must take SO much work, but I think it’s really worth it. I mean, where else could I have brought papier mache bird rings, and be taken seriously?
And, it has put the taste for it back in my mouth. I think it’s one of those worlds that you kind of need to stay in once your in it. I hope I am able to do the next one, I have some plans…

Getting back to Olaf, one of the poems I read that morning was about his daily unrequited love affairs he had with women in the caf├ęs he would be in, a different woman every time. They would drink coffee together, at a distance, he would love her from a distance, and she would leave, and no one got hurt. And it struck a real cord, but made even more sense to me this morning. I think the reason why these intense moments we have are so bittersweet is because you temporarily fall in love with the anarchy, the radicalness, the stallholders that you connect with, the one customer that gets it, the squatters that are being the change you want to see in the world (that you don’t ever actually see). And it’s a moment, a brief second in time that is so precious and magical and wonderful, that you love it. It engages that emotion that otherwise lies dormant as you carry on with your life. And the reason it is so intense and gorgeous is because it is a moment, and you know that that is all it is, because it’s not sustainable at that level for any longer. And that’s where the sadness comes in, because you go back to your life and try to keep the craic going, knowing that somewhere out there everyone else is doing the same.
And then you drive home, into the sunset, smiling and being grateful and happy and sad and fulfilled and inspired, and you drift in and out of sleep dozely aware of the beauty of all that has happened.

And then you wake to flashing ice blue lights and realize you are going past the most horrific car accident you have ever seen, which pulls into sharp focus all the events of the previous 48hours, and your whole life up until this point.
Or maybe that’s just me.

The sweet beauty of life can be over, or dramatically altered, in a split second. We are so fragile and vulnerable. It doesn’t seem fair that on top of just about surviving, we have to fight for our right to water. It seems silly and selfish to be a bit sad that Independents day is over. Like the eclipse, seeing a car accident puts everything into perspective. The message being, to live each day to the fullest (cliche I know, but true) because we just don't know what is going to happen next.

The juxtaposition of comedy and tragedy, you literally couldn’t make it up…