Meditation in a Time of Civil War

An invite by Hamilton Gallery, Co. Sligo, Ireland to participate in a group exhibition, responding to the poem by W.B Yeats, ‘Meditations in a Time of Civil War’.

The exhibition will open the virtually if not publicly on Yeats Day, June 13th 2021

Written over seven sections it is replete with powerful and compelling imagery and insights on a tumultuous period for Ireland as the country was going through its formative and often violent birth. This poem was actually written by Yeats in 1921. Although the Civil War in Ireland occurred in 1922 the Anglo-Irish war which frames the backdrop to this poem, was commonly termed and considered a civil war within Ireland at the time it was taking place.

‘Under the Light of the Moon’

I drew inspiration from the first verse of section VII (I see Phantoms of Hatred and of the Heart’s Fullness and of the Coming Emptiness). In my painting there is a slight play on the colours of the Irish flag as a nod to the significance of the tri-colour around the time of the Civil War. I titled the work after the line in the poem ‘Under the Light of the Moon’

‘Under the Light of the Moon’

Video filmed and edited by Derval Freeman
Music written and performed by Derval Freeman

Meditations in Time of Civil War by W B Yeats


I Ancestral Houses
SURELY among a rich man’s flowering lawns,
Amid the rustle of his planted hills,
Life overflows without ambitious pains;
And rains down life until the basin spills,
And mounts more dizzy high the more it rains
As though to choose whatever shape it wills
And never stoop to a mechanical
Or servile shape, at others’ beck and call.


Mere dreams, mere dreams! Yet Homer had not Sung
Had he not found it certain beyond dreams
That out of life’s own self-delight had sprung
The abounding glittering jet; though now it seems
As if some marvellous empty sea-shell flung
Out of the obscure dark of the rich streams,
And not a fountain, were the symbol which
Shadows the inherited glory of the rich.


Some violent bitter man, some powerful man
Called architect and artist in, that they,
Bitter and violent men, might rear in stone
The sweetness that all longed for night and day,
The gentleness none there had ever known;
But when the master’s buried mice can play.
And maybe the great-grandson of that house,
For all its bronze and marble, ‘s but a mouse.


O what if gardens where the peacock strays
With delicate feet upon old terraces,
Or else all Juno from an urn displays
Before the indifferent garden deities;
O what if levelled lawns and gravelled ways
Where slippered Contemplation finds his ease
And Childhood a delight for every sense,
But take our greatness with our violence?


What if the glory of escutcheoned doors,
And buildings that a haughtier age designed,
The pacing to and fro on polished floors
Amid great chambers and long galleries, lined
With famous portraits of our ancestors;
What if those things the greatest of mankind
Consider most to magnify, or to bless,
But take our greatness with our bitterness?

II My House
An ancient bridge, and a more ancient tower,
A farmhouse that is sheltered by its wall,
An acre of stony ground,
Where the symbolic rose can break in flower,
Old ragged elms, old thorns innumerable,
The sound of the rain or sound
Of every wind that blows;
The stilted water-hen
Crossing stream again
Scared by the splashing of a dozen cows;


A winding stair, a chamber arched with stone,
A grey stone fireplace with an open hearth,
A candle and written page.
Il Penseroso’s Platonist toiled on
In some like chamber, shadowing forth
How the daemonic rage
Imagined everything.
Benighted travellers
From markets and from fairs
Have seen his midnight candle glimmering.


Two men have founded here. A man-at-arms
Gathered a score of horse and spent his days
In this tumultuous spot,
Where through long wars and sudden night alarms
His dwindling score and he seemed castaways
Forgetting and forgot;
And I, that after me
My bodily heirs may find,
To exalt a lonely mind,
Befitting emblems of adversity.


III My Table
Two heavy trestles, and a board
Where Sato’s gift, a changeless sword,
By pen and paper lies,
That it may moralise
My days out of their aimlessness.
A bit of an embroidered dress
Covers its wooden sheath.
Chaucer had not drawn breath
When it was forged. In Sato’s house,
Curved like new moon, moon-luminous
It lay five hundred years.
Yet if no change appears
No moon; only an aching heart
Conceives a changeless work of art.
Our learned men have urged
That when and where ’twas forged
A marvellous accomplishment,
In painting or in pottery, went
From father unto son
And through the centuries ran And seemed unchanging like the sword.
Soul’s beauty being most adored,
Men and their business took
The soul’s unchanging look;
For the most rich inheritor,
Knowing that none could pass Heaven’s door,
That loved inferior art,
Had such an aching heart
That he, although a country’s talk
For silken clothes and stately walk.
Had waking wits; it seemed
Juno’s peacock screamed.


IV My Descendants
Having inherited a vigorous mind
From my old fathers, I must nourish dreams
And leave a woman and a man behind
As vigorous of mind, and yet it seems
Life scarce can cast a fragrance on the wind,
Scarce spread a glory to the morning beams,
But the torn petals strew the garden plot;
And there’s but common greenness after that.


And what if my descendants lose the flower
Through natural declension of the soul,
Through too much business with the passing hour,
Through too much play, or marriage with a fool?
May this laborious stair and this stark tower
Become a roofless ruin that the owl
May build in the cracked masonry and cry
Her desolation to the desolate sky.


The primum Mobile that fashioned us
Has made the very owls in circles move;
And I, that count myself most prosperous,
Seeing that love and friendship are enough,
For an old neighbour’s friendship chose the house
And decked and altered it for a girl’s love,
And know whatever flourish and decline
These stones remain their monument and mine.


V The Road at My Door
An affable Irregular,
A heavily-built Falstaffian man,
Comes cracking jokes of civil war
As though to die by gunshot were
The finest play under the sun.


A brown Lieutenant and his men,
Half dressed in national uniform,
Stand at my door, and I complain
Of the foul weather, hail and rain,
A pear-tree broken by the storm.

I count those feathered balls of soot
The moor-hen guides upon the stream.
To silence the envy in my thought;
And turn towards my chamber, caught
In the cold snows of a dream.


VI The Stare’s Nest by My Window
The bees build in the crevices
Of loosening masonry, and there
The mother birds bring grubs and flies.
My wall is loosening; honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.


We are closed in, and the key is turned
On our uncertainty; somewhere
A man is killed, or a house burned,
Yet no clear fact to be discerned:
Come build in the empty house of the stare.


A barricade of stone or of wood;
Some fourteen days of civil war;
Last night they trundled down the road
That dead young soldier in his blood:
Come build in the empty house of the stare.


We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart’s grown brutal from the fare;
More Substance in our enmities
Than in our love; O honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.


VII I see Phantoms of Hatred and of the Heart’s Fullness and of the Coming Emptiness
I climb to the tower-top and lean upon broken stone,
A mist that is like blown snow is sweeping over all,
Valley, river, and elms, under the light of a moon
That seems unlike itself, that seems unchangeable,
A glittering sword out of the east. A puff of wind
And those white glimmering fragments of the mist sweep by.
Frenzies bewilder, reveries perturb the mind;
Monstrous familiar images swim to the mind’s eye.


‘Vengeance upon the murderers,’ the cry goes up,
‘Vengeance for Jacques Molay.’ In cloud-pale rags, or in lace,
The rage-driven, rage-tormented, and rage-hungry troop,
Trooper belabouring trooper, biting at arm or at face,
Plunges towards nothing, arms and fingers spreading wide
For the embrace of nothing; and I, my wits astray
Because of all that senseless tumult, all but cried
For vengeance on the murderers of Jacques Molay.


Their legs long, delicate and slender, aquamarine their eyes,
Magical unicorns bear ladies on their backs.
The ladies close their musing eyes. No prophecies,
Remembered out of Babylonian almanacs, Have closed the ladies’ eyes, their minds are but a pool
Where even longing drowns under its own excess;
Nothing but stillness can remain when hearts are full
Of their own sweetness, bodies of their loveliness.


The cloud-pale unicorns, the eyes of aquamarine,
The quivering half-closed eyelids, the rags of cloud or of lace,
Or eyes that rage has brightened, arms it has made lean,
Give place to an indifferent multitude, give place
To brazen hawks. Nor self-delighting reverie,
Nor hate of what’s to come, nor pity for what’s gone,
Nothing but grip of claw, and the eye’s complacency,
The innumerable clanging wings that have put out the moon.


I turn away and shut the door, and on the stair
Wonder how many times I could have proved my worth
In something that all others understand or share;
But O! ambitious heart, had such a proof drawn forth
A company of friends, a conscience set at ease,
It had but made us pine the more. The abstract joy,
The half-read wisdom of daemonic images,
Suffice the ageing man as once the growing boy

Artist Interview

Here is an in depth interview about my art that I did recently with Ruan Shields recently.

Moonset

I was watching the moonset during the week as I ventured up the road where I live, here at the foot of the Sugar Loaf. I often get these bursts of energy to head outside in the middle of the night to watch the night skies. These moments are a magical experience and I am glad I decided to take my camera as a last minuet decision. The moon shun so bright that night and its light blanked out a lot of the stars but that didn’t bother me as it was the moonset I was after this time. My astro photography is not just about capturing the stars alone, but they are more like night skyscapes and I like to get creative with them depending on the surroundings. I did some long exposures with different angles while the shutter was still open and this captured the moon light trails in the movement of the camera. I love playing with colour afterwards when editing the photos. There is so much you can do and it is hard not to get carried away.

The Humidity of and August Starty Night

I started this painting at the beginning of July 2020 with a few scribbles on this canvas and then went blank on it for weeks. Then one night in August I went all colour expressive with it, it ended up here.

A closer look at this painting I finished last August 2020. I made a musical sound scape to accompany my art videos early on during COVID and I am experimenting with more of this kind of creativity. I hope you enjoy.

The Humidity of an August Starry Night,
Oil & Cold Wax on Canvas,
30cm x 60cm x 4cm

The Humidity of an August Starry Night

Imagine Solo Show

Join me Monday at 2pm for my online solo exhibition with Imagine artists group at Hambly and Hambly at Dunbar House. All new works and all available through Ciara on 00 44 7808 010327.
🌺🦋🌺
https://facebook.com/NorthernIrishArts/

Alpha Centauri

My first painting for 2021

I am thrilled to be awarded for the winning painting at Enlighten call at Hambly & Hambly, a great start to the new year.

‘Alpha Centauri’, Acrylics, Oils and COld Wax on Canvas, 50cm x 70cm

I was drawn to the beautiful bright colours of the work of Adrienne Finnerty’s sculptural relief piece titled ‘Show the world you light, your bright, the wild exuberant me’. I loved the organic sense of explosiveness of bright colours. My painting is in response to that and to it’s title too.

‘Show the world you light, your bright, the wild exuberant me’, by Adrienne Finnerty

I was inspired by the abstract expressiveness of the work and so I wanted to be more loose and organic in response and less refined than I normally am. So much so that I found it hard to ‘stop’ and to stop over thinking the work!

I began it before Christmas and I was unsure if I’d find what direction to go, but over the few weeks it came through somehow.

Without explaining too much about the painting, I would rather it spoke for itself and for it to interpret however it may. Being my first painting of the year, I guess the only hope I would have in the viewer’s reaction is that it brings a sense of warmth, brightness and great optimism for 2021. It could even be the beginning of a slightly different direction for work.

Some detail of my painting below

The Great Conjunction

Where Jupiter and Saturn will meet from our perspective looking out into space. Another cosmic event that will somehow find its way into my painting at some point. I went out yesterday evening to try capture their closeness as best I could with my camera. Some of the photos are showing the other view of the skies behind me and I could not miss staying around to capture some of it.

Jupiter and Saturn Closing in.

How beautiful our universe.

Like the speed of light,

it takes time to see,

to adjust,

to learn and to be free.

Time may not be as short as you imagine..

Here are some of the photos I got and I decided to throw in Orion and another view from a previous time.

Standing on this rock, I can see the sea

I was hiking up Scarr mountain one day and on the way I walked through a landscape full of massive big boulders which were spread all around the landscape as if they had fallen like pebbles from the hand of a giant. At the moment when that thought came into my head I suddenly felt very small.

I climbed up onto some to see the view and nearer to the top of the summit they got bigger and bigger along the way. I could see for miles all round and then seeing the sea beyond I realised how close I was to the sea but yet so far away from it too. I felt a strange kind of parallel that relates to the wonders and concept of time. There is so much time and then there is none at all.

These are some of the questions and thoughts that come to my mind when out appreciating nature and taking in all that I can from it. Among many other things, it is moments like this drive me to paint and to reason out thoughts through my own creativity.

Here is a painting that was inspired by my hike that day titled ‘Standing on this rock, I can see the sea’, painted in oils mixed with cold wax.

‘Standing of this rock, I can see the sea’
‘Standing on this rock, I can see the sea’, 50cm x 50cm x 4cm

There are a lot of circular elements in nature and the universe that inform my art like these boulders, such as the tree rings of years on tree stumps, the coriolis force in the nature of the weather systems, the solar system, planets, and the cycle of time itself..

In Constant Flux

I am in constant flux,

nature is in constant flux,

the universe is in constant flux.

Art is in constant flux.

Just like the quote on my painting page, “There is no must in art because art is free”, a quote by Wassily Kandinsky, I try to live and make art by that. It is often hard to be free in making art though, but when it happens it is a wonderful thing.

I probably shouldn’t say this but often when I finish a painting or near finishing one, I often don’t like the finished piece. I leave the studio feeling defeated and my anxieties start up. Then when I go back to it after some time, for some reason I see it like it is brand new and unfamiliar and I begin to love it. I don’t know why this happens..

I get drawn in as my eyes travel across the canvas following the shapes that lead me into the next and the colours that shouldn’t of worked, but somehow do. Everything makes sense all at once. This is very grounding to me as an artist and there is a parallel..

I look at the universe and the great cosmos for grounding in the world sometimes as I carry all my childhood wonders in the background of my mind through to adulthood. Colour is all that is needed..

Colour is in constant flux,

because light and dark are in constant flux.

‘Satellite Walker’, Oil and Cold Wax on Canvas, 30cm x 60cm x 4cm

Just my thoughts for today..

Beyond the Bleak

In response to poem ‘Celtic Warrior’ by Maria Noonan McDermott.

Once again I had a blast responding to this week’s Enlighten piece. This time it was the words in the poem, ‘Celtic Warrior’ by Maria Noonan McDermott and . My inspiration was from her words in specific here below.

‘..a landscape ever changing, filled with promise. Light filaments of gold…over the bleak lines of the horizon..’

I really empathised with those words and it’s what I am thriving to bring to my paintings all the time especially in the past few months. A landscape ever changing, a world that follows, the cinders that burn within, bring light and colour to my every day. Without light, there is no colour.. and that colour lies beyond the bleak, where we rise undefeated above the shadows.. 

‘Beyond the Bleak’ and detail of the work.

I am all about light and colour this past year with everything happening in the world of lock downs and for one, I am missing family especially my son who is living in Berlin. To keep my head above water and to keep positive, it is in my art where I find real solace and the spark that keeps the flame burning within. By creating an environment of bright pure ‘candy colour’, I look forward to being in my studio every day.

‘Beyond the Bleak’, Oil on Canvas, 40cm x 30cm

A Brief Fix

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a night sky of stars and today I planned to head out and try capture them seen as it was a beautifully clear day today, despite the rising winds. As I made a dash for it earlier tonight when they came out, a mist started and I saw the clouds were coming over the sky. I got up to Sugar Loaf very fast because it is only 5mins up the road from me by car. When I got out of the car the door almost blew off the hinges. I was determined to capture something though, even if it meant the shortest stargaze and photo captures ever.

I had to hold down my tripod as the wind almost took both it and myself up and away. It felt like I was in a scene from The Wizard of Oz where Dorthy’s house took off into the tornado’s funnel.

Anyhow, here are some captures to keep me going and the plough, and big peachy Mars can be seen and I think Orion showed up too. Until next time, I hope you enjoy them!

Urban Trail 2005-2007

Finally I get to update my site with an old series of work I did back between 2005 to 2007.

Bricks and Mortar, Oil on Canvas, 47cm x 35cm

A series titled ‘Urban Trail’ 2007 that I never got to photograph properly at the time. I have so many more but the old computer I had at the time broke down basically and I lost all the original photo files. I salvaged some of them here from an old article back in 2009 that I scanned in. I wish I kept some of the original paintings now. Its interesting how parts of older styles can sneak its way into current work. In all my series of work how ever different they may seem/or not, there is a strong connection between them all.

Reflect on O’Connell Street, Oil and mixed media on Board, 47cm c 35cm

More here on my painting section about this series Urban Trail

Blue Moon 20

From a few nights ago, our first blue moon since 1974, (the year I was born). I felt compelled to paint a painting and wonder about how things were for my birth mother back then when I was a tiny newborn.

Blue Moon 20, Oil on Canvas, 40cm x 40cm x 4cm

I found this unfinished piece of writing a few months ago that I wrote back in 2008. It was something that just came to me when I was in the studio working on a personal series of work at the time titled Chromosome 9. I added to it recently and My Ghost might put a bit of the words into perspective.. its still a work in progress though..

In Progress

Lake

Enlighten, a collaboration of artists in response to the poem, ‘What Peace Feels Like’ by Fidel Hogan Walsh

What Peace Feels Like by Fidel Hogan Walsh

My response to the poem was with a delicateness and empathy to the words written. The tranquil setting of soft mist rising from the lake and taking time out to just breathe and absorb the moment resonated with me. My sense and vision is that of overwhelment in the surroundings of nature as time stands still for just a moment letting go of troubles and fears, something I experience often when out walking in the mountains and forests.

Lake, Oil on Canvas, 60cm x 60cm

We are living in dark times right now but the words in the poem and empathy I feel for them, brings a lot of light into my heart. I hope to bring a sensation of light, peace and optimism with this painting, through the play of colour, light and dark tones in a balanced composition.

I hope you enjoy it.

My Comet

My NEOWISE, my diary, all of me..

Here is an experience ‘in your environment’ of my latest painting, ‘Diary of NEOWISE’

(I hope)

Diary of NEOWISE

‘Diary of NEOWISE’, Oil on Canvas, 120cm x 100cm 4cm

This is a new painting I just finished yesterday. I may have mentioned in a past post somewhere here on my blog or on my social media that I like to title work around cosmic events at a given time. I think that is where my previous painting ‘The solar Wind of Comet SAWN’ came from. Although they are not specifically about the events per se, sometimes I they can inform a work every now and again.

Detail Close

From the studio

From the studio

I began this new painting back in July 2020 and I titled it ‘Diary of NEOWISE’ for the obvious reason was that comet NEOWISE began soaring our atmosphere around then and I felt inspired to start a new painting around it. The comet was one of the brightest in the Northern Hemisphere since Comet Hale-Bopp 1997 and it had two tails. The first a blue-turquoise and a second, a red separation which developed in July. So my colours stem from that and as the painting built up, I began to play with more and more colour.

From the studio

From the studio

Here are 2 short videos I made of the work in the early stages of making.

Studio time lapse session

My Ghost

My ghost.. a photographic expression from a few years ago of my exploration into my existence and therefore my son’s. This is a very personal thing to me.. finding my own mother when I was 19 and pregnant with my son.. finding my own mother was just a need at the time..
I found her and to my shock, she was severely visually impaired and in a wheelchair..
For the short moments we spoke on the phone, I tried to get to know her but she seemed to cry silently most of the time.. that was hard to experience on many levels..
but I could hear somehow.. I was 19..
I smiled on the phone in some strange unfamiliar empathy..
I knew her sadness though..somehow I just did..
what is a mother?
A protector..

Debris

My recent painting, titled ‘Debris’

Oil on Canvas, 30cm x 40cm x 4cm

Debris

Detail close ups of painting