Creative Islanders: Emmet Condon

Emmet Condon

The Creative Islanders is an new interview series showcasing some of Ireland’s brightest creative talent and enterprise. It is about people who are stepping into their dreams, purpose and possibilities and embracing their one wild life. 

The interviews give a rare ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse into creative practice, motivations and mindsets- shining a light on what makes people tick, and how, collectively Ireland is alive with creative possibility.

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Next up is Emmet Condon– DJ, Founder of Homebeats, Another Love Story and Fading Light festival organiser, avid tea drinker, surfer and dog lover.

Having jumped ship on a career path in physiotherapy, for the last number of years Emmet has been popping up in people’s homes and quirky spaces, bringing beats to unlikely venues. He has also collaborated to bring Another Love Story boutique festival to life, initiated the Fading Light Festival in West Kerry and most recently had a dream come true when he hosted his own stage Tree Haus at Body & Soul Festival.  But beyond the music, it is the way Emmet operates which has been part of the appeal and growth of his ventures- with an open heart, a collaborative spirit and a sense of adventure, bringing community together in meaningful, musical ways. He can certainly get a crowd dancing too.

Now over to Emmet…

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What makes you tick? What motivates you?

In terms of motivation, to be honest, a sense of lost time. It took me a long time to find the courage to go after what was in my heart, so I’m still keenly aware of making up for a lot of time spent not persuing the right thing.

What makes me tick? Attention to detail and commitment to a small but perfect vision. That, and the want to present music and spaces in a way that opens them up to the audience and the artists. Following on from that the incredible buzz of seeing it all come together and people being happy.

Last week’s adventure on our Tree Haus stage at Body & Soul Festival was perhaps the ultimate experience of this so far – Avril Stanley & co’s dedication to making Ballinlough a wonderland sets the bar high for anyone producing something there, especially for the first time. I can honestly say that the Homebeat team that worked on every facet of it put their hearts and souls into it. To see the stage in full flight at the woods at 3am in the morning was something that might never leave me. There are many difficult parts to being involved in the events industry, but the ability to truly create magic with friends in a place like that is just an incredible buzz- and that’s the feeling that you keep looking for and that keeps driving you to do it the right way.

What does the creative process teach you?

I think mostly it has thought me the hard won value of patience. When I was younger I was sure that people created art without any effort; that great artists, no matter the medium, simply exhaled a piece of art in one perfect, concise breath. Learning that everyone has and needs exactly that – a process, was a very profound thing for me.

What keeps you in Ireland?

I’m really glad to say, so many things. First and foremost the incredible bunch of creative people I’m blessed to know here, and especially so in Dublin. It’s a community that seems to be growing closer and denser over the past number of years and the genuine inspirational innovation and support amongst that group is something that would take years to encounter and foster somewhere larger and less connected like London or New York or even the hallowed ground of Berlin.

Secondly, I suppose it’s the feeling of growing something with Homebeat. It took me a long time to find my way in terms of a career, and though I would be hard pressed to legitimise the adventures I’m having at the moment as a “career”, I’m certainly invested in it enough to feel like it’s the vehicle for my dreams here and I suppose a lot of work has gone into even getting it to this lowly level. I would hate to leave that behind right now.

Beyond those two things, obviously friends and family, but also the incredible little island that we live on itself. Dublin town, my adopted home, is nestled twixt mountains and sea, and if one manages to escape the heady attractions of incredible music, art, pubs and clubs of a Friday night, not to mention the incredible burgeoning coffee and food culture every day of the week here, you can be walking next to a giant red lighthouse, or flying down a mountain bike trail in under a half hour from your kitchen. And that only begins to explain the wonder of getting up even a little bit earlier on that Saturday morning, jumping in a van and finding yourself surfing in Sligo, Clare or Kerry by mid-morning, amongst friends in uncrowded waves, and in the most beautiful setting possible.

Festivals, music, Guinness, our natural humility- I could go on and on. I travelled for a long time to find the day that I decided this was undoubtably the place for me on this planet, and I’ve never looked back since.

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Photo: Chequerboard at Fading Light (Ruthless Imagery)

How do you get unstuck? Any secret tools?

I don’t know if I feel I get necessarily stuck, more fatigued from having a few projects on the go all at once. If you are working in the field that you are most interested in, it’s hard not to be inspired. Certainly I’m someone who feels like he’s completely making it up as he goes along so talking to peers helps a lot in terms of advice and reassurance. But if genuinely stuck for want of headspace, it’s time to pack the van, head west and jump in the sea for a few days.

What do you do just for the love of it?

I’d say DJ but there’s definitely an element of ambition in that, so purely for the love of it –  surf, snowboard, read the sports pages, golf, drink tea, make it my business to talk to most dogs I meet on the street.

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Where do you find inspiration? Any hidden gems?

Most certainly in what’s happening here at the moment. I truly believe we are living through a golden age of Irish music and culture, not only this, but my generation has been paradoxically empowered by the recession I think – the drop in commercial rent prices during the recession meant places like The Fumbally Café, and our beloved Mabos sprung up. These spaces are real hubs of incubation and inspiration – at the end of the day it’s all about the realisation that people and their interactions is what make it all happen – and most of all it’s people who are true to their voice and their passion (stand up Donal Dineen & co.) who inspire me continuously.

But outside of people:  good design – be it a pair of runners or a café, nature, and a gazillion websites / instagram accounts / blogs / magazines. I actually find Instagram a really handy source of visual inspiration.

Great music obviously is something that brings me to a different place, though that might be more emotional inspiration rather than a creative one (usually it makes me feel creatively stupid!!)

How do you get through tough times? What sustains you?

Sitting myself down and breaking things into small bits. Lists. Lots of lists. Once I do that I feel like I’m in control of the situation and the panic tends to subside a little. This and tea. Gallons of tea (this is probably the substance that sustains me also). I’ve learned the hard way that I’m not someone who can leave their troubles behind readily, so I’ve got to face them and break them down or I end up driving around the country trying to run away from them but not being able to escape!

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Photo: Ruthless Imagery at Another Love Story

What key lessons have your learned about doing business or being a creative practitioner along the way? What have you learned from your ‘failures’?

Trust your own artistic vision – it’s the only thing you have that makes you stand out.

Trust if you do it well, more work will follow, if not immediately, then soon after.

Always over deliver and follow through to the very end – the extra attention to detail is what people remember.

Say yes often, say no sometimes.

Always go!

In terms of failures, often (as in most things in life) you already know in your heart if it’s not going to work.

Do you have a morning routine? Or other creative habits or rituals?

Wake, tea, check mails / facebook for anything new that has been announced or popped up. MORE TEA. Generally I need a space to be pretty tidy to think, so there’s a lot of straightening magazine / notebook edges involved.

What books have inspired you? Or what websites do you turn to?

One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Crossings – Michel Kew (the best travel book I have ever read)

Grapes of Wrath – John Stienbeck

Vernon God Little – DBC Pierre.

Websites – Monsters Children | Resident Advisor (brilliant podcast series on djs and promoters) | Soundcould

What advice do you wish you had received as you were stepping onto your own creative path?

As I said earlier, that I had realised very few get it 100% right immediately, and that the confidence you get from the very simple act of just trying is huge.

And what advice would you give to your future self?
Try to stay patient. If you do it right, trust that the work will come. Always be grateful! Trust yourself!

 

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Emmet’s links: 

Homebeats

Another Love Story (in collaboration with Happenings)

Fading Light

Thank you Emmet- see you on a dance floor soon! 


A Culture of Ships

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I am interested in ships. Not tall ships necessarily- although some of my best journeys have been on floating vessels- but entrepreneurship, leadership and at the root of it all, friendship and fellowship. If I was to coin a word right now and add it too the fleet, it would also be creativeship (the discipline of creative being). The ship here is important for many reasons, namely because it connotes a culture of this particular thing and not a rarified merit or accolade. Let me elaborate…

Over the next number of years we will witness a radical change in social contexts and labour markets. This will be the era of the freelancer and the creative. This will be the era of rapid automation of what was previously done by manual labour and the subsequent rise of niche markets, specialists skills and a whole new breed of worker. Gone are the days of permanent and pensionable. Instead we are seeing a rise in hybrid work and life, blended careers across sectors and continents, and people seeking flexibility over predictability. As a consequence will need a whole advanced set of skills to go with it, with creativity, innovation and solution mindsets placed centrally. Plus we will need a new system and ground rules for collaboration and engagement. This indeed will be business as unusual.

This too is an era of unstable economic and social tides. We only have to look at the (mis)fortunes of Greece today to see how systems which were once thought to sustain us are in fact destabilising us. There is universal systemic mistrust across politics and power structures, traditional institutions and the very fabric of society which once we lay our trust upon. It feels like shaky ground.

And so to navigate this change, economically on the one hand and socially on the other, we need also to be an era of rapid prototyping, experimentation, innovation, risk taking, openness, and collaboration. We need to be able to forecast, plan, design and execute new social initiatives and political agendas with a maturity which I believe can only come when we excavate our inner landscape and call on our collective compassion, solidarity and trust. We need to essentially learn to raise our conscience and then evolve and design our operating principles based on a new order of values.

Wishful thinking? Idealistic? Maybe- but wasn’t it ideals which built democracy in the first place, and wasn’t it ideals which got us to the moon, and back.

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As it has been said many times over, where there is crisis there is also opportunity. I believe that the opportunity resides deep within in each of us, if we frame the questions right.

At this stage, you may be wondering, where on earth do the ships come into all of this?

Well right here.

You see, we need to broaden the questions and the scope of our inquiries. Currently we don’t ask enough questions about how to cultivate a culture of the right kind of ‘ships’. What if instead of asking how we educate people for the current system, we really asked, how can we build a culture of entrepreneurship, of leadership, and equally of friendship and fellowship, so that we can equip ourselves with the essential skills we need as a collective to navigate these altering tides and not just survive, but thrive in the future- economically and socially. What would our education systems look like then? And our political system? And our economies? And our future?

I don’t know the answers to these questions but I do know that how we frame the initial question is critical.

Leadership and entrepreneurship have been heralded as the merits of a few. But this need not be the case. With the right training, and embedded within a culture of these traits, we each can express our own leadership and evolve our own innovative means to solve problems- we are fundamentally creative beings, and our creative intelligence is like our life raft.

We have our hearts to help us too, for with each of us there is the capacity for universal friendship and fellowship (as this is the stuff of hearts). Fear can mask it, and mistrust, but I believe the capacity to unearth and rediscover our essential nature is within each of us. Sometimes it just means we have to slow down, listen and really see each other, and ourselves, for the beauty that we are.

It is not easy, it requires dedication and deep inner work as well as outer work. But it is possible. We can thrive, if only we have the right mindset and the will to make it so.

So yes, it is idealistic, and could even be called naive. But what other choice do we have? I would rather set sail on that ship, trusting many others will jump on board too, in friendship, and in hope.


Creative Islanders: Superfolk

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The Creative Islanders is an new interview series showcasing some of Ireland’s brightest creative talent and enterprise. It is about people who are stepping into their dreams, purpose and possibilities and embracing their one wild life. 

The interviews give a rare ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse into creative practice, motivations and mindsets- shining a light on what makes people tick, and how, collectively Ireland is alive with creative possibility.

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Next up in the series is Superfolk founded by partners in life and business Jo Anne Bulter and Gearóid Muldowney. Based in Westport, in the wild west of Ireland, Superfolk design and craft exquisite homewares. Inspired by the outdoors and with respect to the raw and rugged landscape and materials which surround them, both Jo Anne and Gearóid’s work exude craftsmanship with comes with much patience, practice and a deeply rooted passion for elegance and beauty. I greatly admire their decision to move out west, working to create a business in tune with the landscape while generating employment and opportunities for the region.

Jo Anne also inspired me recently to take up lino cutting again, and gave me some very useful tips and hints (thank you!) I also love popping into their Instagram feed to have a visual dose of the west… they take some stunning images.

Now over to some words from Jo Anne & Gearóid..

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Photo Credit:Henrietta Williams

What makes you tick? What motivates you?

Jo Anne: I love to understand the relationships and connections between things and am curious about simple things in nature, animals, our weather and our environment. In designing I always want to try to understand the core or the essence of a material, a process or a problem. I want to always be proud of the work that we do and I love sharing that with others. Some people connect in a very emotional way to the sensibility of what we make and really get it and that’s very rewarding. We want to build a business where we will be creating employment in the west of Ireland.

Gearoid: I like to identify problems and rectifying them. I enjoy fixing things. But at some point its best to start afresh and thats why I design new things. Being able to understand your built/designed/made environment helps orientate a person. Being able to tell a story through our products is normal; materials have a history, objects are created in a context, keeping that context part of the product is an integral part of what we do.

What keeps you in Ireland?

Jo Anne: Our families – My father passed away in 2006 and Gearoid’s father died in 2012. The sense of sadness and loss is profound, but, bereavement also brought a deepening appreciation for our family, our friends and the feeling of ‘at home’ we have with living in the west of Ireland.

Gearoid: I love Ireland. My upbringing and my education has given me a wonderful appreciation for this island. My parents and my primary school teachers introduced me to the rich cultural heritage that is ours to discover. Ireland’s geography, natural history and culture fascinates me. With Superfolk, we are trying our best to use all of these elements to our advantage. We don’t want to leave.

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What do you do just for the love of it?

Jo Anne: I love learning about what I am seeing around me and anything that involves fresh air and being outside – walking, hiking, climbing, kayking, snorkelling, camping. I love trying to identify wild flowers and plants. I want to understand how a single plant can tell the story of its habitat – the relationship between the climate, topography and geology of a place. I want to know not just the name of everything that grows in the wild but why it chooses to grow where and when it grows – the wider inter-connected story of habitat. And I love watching Homeland. And Vikings.

Gearoid: I like being outside. I use fly fishing as a legitimate excuse to roam the countryside, study maps jump fences and talk to strangers. Fly fishing gives me the license to stand in rivers in silence, whilst water rushes all around you. I can stand motionless in a ditch listening for a plop of a trouts lip as it sips in flies trapped in the water surface film. I like the silence of big open spaces. Hiking in the hills of Mayo energises me. We have a large dog, ‘Woody’, a Wiemaraner and he demands plenty of exercise, so he’s another excuse to be in forests and hills and beaches.

What does the creative process teach you?

Jo Anne: Good work will not be forced. We might push really long and hard trying to make something work and eventually have to admit defeat. Good work is more instinctive, more fluid and truer to ourselves. When we are slogging at something it can be hard to stop and accept that what is more easy, free and simple is the better work. The slog is an important part of the creative process but its not the work. I think this is described best in the phrase ‘the simplicity on the other side of complexity’.

Gearoid. How to be honest. Well made things are honest. There are no tricks, if you want to make something that will last, and function well there are no short cuts. Use good materials and do them justice.

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How do you get unstuck? Any secret tools?

Jo Anne: Turn it upside down. In my foundation art course my tutor Robin Jones would tell us to frequently turn the page of a drawing upside down to make us look at the drawing with fresh eyes. So I try to find similar ways to keep fresh eyes and perspective on whatever I am working on. Turn the page upside down, take a step back, take a break, go for a walk. Learn to change your position relative to your work and learn to see with fresh eyes.

Gearoid: I don’t get stuck much these days. When I was younger I might have been more precious about my  ideas and less willing to give up on something that wasn’t working. I’ve gotten better at scrapping something that isn’t working, ideas are two a penny.

Where do you find inspiration? Any hidden gems?

Jo Anne: We are designers but it is really important to us that we are always looking outside of ‘design’. When Gearoid and I travel to new places we always look out for the folk museum, the natural history museum, the odd strange decorative arts museum.  I really love any outdoor folk museums even really touristy ones. I love ‘Den Gamle By’, the outdoor folk life museum in Arhus in Denmark.

Gearoid: Humans have been designing and problem solving for thousands of years. Its only in the last few hundred years that we have begun to document some of these results. My interest in vernacualr life tools is endless. I love folk museums especially if they have an outdoor element and archaeology, you cant beat digging in the ground and speculating.

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How do you get through tough times? What sustains you?

Jo Anne: The memory of that first feeling of Spring in the air – at any time of year. And anything William Wegman ever made. Walking and listening to podcasts.

Gearoid: I used to smoke, rolling tobacco and I really enjoyed the peaceful time it gave. It allowed me time to meditate on things. It turns out smoking kills you, so I walk the dog now or go fishing.

What key lessons have your learned about doing business or being a creative practitioner along the way?

Jo Anne: Don’t take criticism personally. Listen and understand criticism as subjective insight.

Gearoid: Play the long game. Make good work. Don’t rush things. Give yourself time to do a good job. Be nice to people and don’t waste time on negative thoughts.

What have you learned from your ‘failures’?

Jo Anne: Never be afraid to cut your losses. Don’t keep going with something that in your gut doesn’t feel right because you are too afraid of losing what you have already invested.

Gearoid: Not to give up. Move on quickly and regroup. Moving forward and not dwelling in the past is important. Keep moving forward.

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Do you have a morning routine?

Jo Anne: Roughly along the lines of …Feed the dog, go for a walk, come back have porridge and coffee and have a short meeting about what work is needed to be done that day.

Gearoid: Porridge. Clean and tidy, start work as soon as possible. Morning is the best time to have clear thoughts and energy.

Or other creative habits or rituals?

Jo Anne: Walking meetings – when we are figuring something out together rather than a sit-down brainstorm we take walking meetings where we walk and talk through our ideas. For some reason when we are more active, walking, you can be more insightful and make big decisions more confidently.

Gearoid: I like to have a place for everything so I’m constantly trying to put my life in order or de clutter my life. It is a struggle, the world wants me to have so much stuff.

What books have inspired you? Or what websites do you turn to? 

Jo Anne: The Wild Flowers of Ireland by Carsten Krieger and Declan Doogue – It tells the story of wildflowers and wild plant life from the point of view of habitat – I love to think about the inter-relationship of factors that create an amenable habitat for plantlife– in a funny way it is really quite relevant to home-wares designing. Also ‘The Way That I Went’ by the naturalist Robert Lloyd Preager. When I’m drawing I listen to podcasts like ‘On Being’ and podcasts about slow food movement and plant life on ‘Heritage Radio Network’.

Gearoid: I have referred to the SAS survival handbook since I was a child. Its a guide to doing everything a human needs to do to stay alive, it has nothing superfluous of luxurious in it its a stripped back guide to living. Its not a bad place to begin if you are designing lifestyle or homeware goods.

What advice do you wish you had received as you were stepping onto your own creative path?

Jo Anne: Trust your gut. Don’t wait to be perfect (because there’s no such thing)

Gearoid: Be brave.

 

 

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Find out more over on their website Superfolk 

Follow them on Instagram here. 

Thank you so much Superfolk. You are, indeed, super folk. Clare x 


Press Play

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It is mid-summer here in the northern hemisphere. Dublin has been a delight with lingering summer evenings and awash with blooming roses and fresh colour. It is one of my favourite times of the year, as the light invites us out to play.

The Power of Play

Play, I have come to remember, is an integral part of learning and leadership, yet is all to often dismissed as ‘silly’, ‘a waste of time’, ‘unfocused’, ‘misguided’ or ‘unprofessional’. But play is where we make connections, get our brains and bodies moving in new ways, engage our imaginations, nurture the senses, allow our inner child to be given an airing, and invite in fun and laughter. Play is a rich field, ripe for learning.

When times are busy, play is often the thing which we push back on first (or at least I do!). ‘I’m too busy now’, ‘Just a few more hours at the computer…’ But have you ever noticed how much more enriched your thinking and learning is after you take a break, and even more so, after you play?

I say ‘I have come to remember‘ intentionally. No child needs to be convinced about the power of play. I wonder now instead, how did we forget? To ‘re-member’ is to recall the experience back into our bones- to literally reconnect it to our members. Our bodies never really forget. 

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Living with an 11 month old dog has taught me a lot about play. Little Finn insists on it. When I have been sitting for too long and ignoring her, she literally drops toys at my feet. Play is a non-negotiable for how she engages with the world and is an integral part of how she expresses her being. I am not sure what is happening in her doggie brain when she is at play, but I have a sense of what is happening in mine- an enlivening and an enrichment of the intimacy in which I engage with the present moment, which in turn shifts my neurology. When I return to my work after some time playing, I am more focused, re-invigorated and generally more productive.

But play is not just important for the fun or the productivity, but also because of its ability to connect disparate things. 

Over the years I have been fortunate to work with and interview hundreds of creative and social entrepreneurs- people who are stepping up to make a difference in the world- from social activists, to artists, to medics, to designers, to writers, to sustainable farmers – all people who have a vision and are working to actualise their leadership in their own unique ways.

I asked myself, ‘What behaviours do all these people have in common and can these be learned over time?’

In examining their traits I started to see a pattern emerging- a set of learned skills and practices that can be reinforced and augmented. These are what I call the 12 Paradigms of Creative Leadership and together they not only help people launch new ventures and develop creative processes, but vitally help to sustain them. These paradigms include presence, purpose, perameters, pattern recognition, power, perspective and centrally, play**

Play is like the weave through it all; a way to deeply connect us to our imagination, intuition and inner insights. Importantly, it also acts like our very own personal labororatory, giving us permission to experiment, fail, try again, test new ground and alter our moves. Common to all the creative and social entrepreneurs I have met, it is through play that some of their best innovations and ideas happened, often unplanned or previously unassociated. It was when playing that their ‘a-ha moments’ landed.  Play was the prism for insight.

Play as a Gateway…

As a photographer, many of my favourite images have been taken because of play. When I travel I carry a  colourful hand puppet with me. Often when waiting in queues or travelling on buses, and when there are children around, the hand puppet will pop out and together with the kids, we start to play. That hand puppet has led to the most amazing encounters with children, their parents, and their communities- crossing cultural and language barriers and immediately breaking down any tension or fear. Through it I learned to count to ten in Hindi, Bengali, Swahili, Xhosa and Malayalam and taught many children how to count to ten in English, Irish and Mandarin!  I have been invited into people’s homes as a result of that puppet, which in turn led to conversations and many opportunties as a photographer which I would not have had otherwise. Play has been a gateway and a saviour.

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Having play as one of our central paradigms can re-orientate our priorities , quickly shift perspective and lighten the load when we need it the most. Play can revitalise and re-energise, sparking new connections and generating insights. Play can open doorways and opportunities. Play can be just for the fun of it too. But maybe we need to remember to do it more often, insistent dog or no dog at our side.

So, as the summer lingers and the light cheers us on, let these words be that familiar knock on the  front door when you were a child, uttering some welcome words: Are you coming out to play?

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** Come October 5th I will be launching a new online course, See Deeper, Act Bolder, in which I will be faciliating learning through the 12 Paradigms of Creative Leadership. Each week we will cover one or more of the paradigms, engaging creatively with each theme. Our cameras, journals, paint brushes, and blank pages will be used as learning tools, taking us on a journey into our own inner vision and possibilities, so that we can each see deeper and act bolder.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

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Creative Islanders: Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh

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The Creative Islanders is an new interview series showcasing some of Ireland’s brightest creative talent and enterprise. It is about people who are stepping into their dreams, purpose and possibilities and embracing their one wild life.

The interviews give a rare ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse into creative practice, motivations and mindsets- shining a light on what makes people tick, and how, collectively Ireland is alive with creative possibility.

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First up is Caoimhín Ó’Raghallaigh– a masterful musician and I am very happy to say, a very dear friend and someone who I draw consistant inspiration from. Caoimhín makes his music on a 10 string fiddle called the hardanger d’amore, exploring the region where traditional music begins to disintegrate. He is a member of The Gloaming and This is How we Fly, touring internationally to some of the most beautiful stages in the world, including The Sydney Opera House, the Royal Albert Hall and the Lincoln Centre.

Over to the wonderful words and insights from Caoimhín…

What makes you tick? What motivates you?

Creating something new makes my brain light up like the fireworks on New Year’s Eve – every time I make something new, something that didn’t exist before that moment, however humble it might be, I actually feel my brain rewarding me, telling me “Yes! This is it! This is the right stuff! Yes! Yes!”. Making new things makes me insanely happy, like a little kid.

What keeps you in Ireland?

It’s my home, it’s where I’m from, and on account of that it’s where I feel I belong, it’s where I understand people the best, it’s where I find the richest level of communication with others by dint of our shared background, culture and history.

What does the creative process teach you?

That we’re built to evolve, and that any effort to create new information by us, in any field, is hugely appreciated and rewarded by our deep selves, the part that is invested in the million year outlook for humanity. Access to that point at which information comes into existence is possible for anyone. Stepping off a cliff into the unknown darkness is immensely productive and rewarding.

How do you get unstuck? Any secret tools?

Mostly I wait, and trust that there’s no reason to panic. Two secret tools: one, a blank sheet, or two, a deadline! I’ve found that if you force yourself to make a mark on a blank sheet, be it ink on paper or sound on time, that something WILL come out. The hardest thing is actually taking out that blank sheet, making the time for it when it’s the last thing in the world you feel like doing.

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What do you do just for the love of it?

Hurling in the park, walking in the mountains, hanging out with friends and family.

Where do you find inspiration? Any hidden gems?

Visual art often enriches me, and will sink deep into the marrow of my bones and inform some fundamental change in what I want to create. Space and texture are two things that I love to learn about in this way. In creating, I try to embrace a lack of control. The unknown and uncontrolled gives rise to far more interesting results than anything I could come up with myself.

How do you get through tough times? What sustains you?

I feel pretty fortunate to be able to keep the light at the end of the tunnel in sight, extraordinarily lucky that no matter how dark the day, I retain the knowledge that what goes down must come up. The philosophy, too, that things that happen to us aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’: there’s no knowing what a specific happening will lead to in the future, what horror or joy was missed on account of its occurence.

What key lessons have your learned about being a creative practitioner along the way? What have you learned from your ‘failures’?

Trust yourself and your feelings. Be brave. Focus on the positives and put your energy into those, rather than fretting about the negatives: prune off the rotten branches – you are doing nobody a favour by persevering with something that you know is fundamentally doomed. Find balance. You are the only person who can prioritise other things in life: family, friends, your own wellbeing.

Do you have a morning routine? Or other creative habits or rituals?

I tend to write in big clumps, I’ll go away for a week or a month or longer, and write a whole load of material, rather than a regular daily approach, and then figure out a routine for that particular spell of time. On days where I have a performance, I’ll generally try to keep it as empty as possible, and do my best to ensure my head is clear and worry-free when performance time comes. A little nap right before the concert, or a nice lazy bath in the middle of the day, for instance. I’ll try to find a great place for coffee in the morning, and a wonderful place to eat a few hours before the gig. The aim is to have a totally calm and clear mind when I walk out and begin to play.

What advice do you wish you had received as you were stepping onto your own creative path?

Believe in yourself and don’t take any shit from anybody, don’t let anyone walk all over you. What you have is worthwhile, special and beautiful, go out there, shine, feed love and passion and enthusiasm into what you do. Trust that such things will be returned a hundred-fold to you, and be glad and happy: you are immensely fortunate and ridiculously lucky. You lead a charmed existence that you are obliged to delight in to the absolute limit of your being.

What books have inspired you?

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, all of Samuel Beckett’s work, Wabi-Sabi by Leonard Koren, Andy Goldsworthy’s books, those by Oliver Sacks.

And what advice would you give to your future self?

Be curious, learn, be open. Be kind. Take a holiday!

…………………………………………………………

Thank you so much Caoimhín- so grateful for your music, you insights, your humour and your friendship!  xx 

Find our more about Caoimhín on his website here,

Some of his collaborations include: The Gloaming. This is How We Fly. Dan Truman- listen in below for a performance.

Photo Credits: Con Kelleher

 

Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh & Dan Trueman -:-:- Laghdú from IrishMusic on Vimeo.


On Flipping Fear

First up, thank you all for the thumbs up, support, and shout outs about my new ventures- so very much appreciated. I can only do this work with the cheerleading support of others who help to spread the word- so again THANK YOU. My beautiful friend Sas sent me some flowers too- it was a big surprise and greeted with much glee.

Launching anything is a complex and interesting process- especially products, services or art that is so close to your heart. In the creative world our hearts and values are so often exposed that it can feel tender and oh so very vulnerable, so much so that it can stop us in our tracks out of fear of criticism, ridicule, rejection or failure.

I am coming to realise more and more that those fears are a natural part of the process- to deny them is to deny the very nature of what it takes to create. However, it is how we navigate them that makes all the difference.

Fear can be fuel too.

Yesterday, all those fears and vulnerabilities were there for me, louder that I had originally anticipated. The negative ‘what if’s’ started to be voiced. ‘What if people don’t ‘get it’, ‘what if the website crashes’, ‘what if it won’t work out for me’.. and so on (blah blah!)

But if we give into those voices, nothing gets done and the creative process itself is denied its full expression and the opportunity to run its true course.

So what to do? How do we find space between the critical voices to find room to push onwards with an open heart?

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For me, it is about returning to my practices, to ground and settle into the deeper knowing, the one beyond the critical voices and the crippling fear factor.

Firstly, I set the space. I light a candle, remove clutter, and carve enough clean room around me to lay a yoga mat. Sometimes I use intention cards- yesterday Elena Brower’s Art of Attention cards came in handy, as too some beautiful and wise words from John O’Donohue.

Then a yoga session, calling in my highest intention, the spirit in which I created the work and a sense of generosity. This is the grounding and the place to, always, come home to myself. Yesterday, wide-legged postures (with firm bases), and supportive seated poses were what was called for, so that I could imprint this sense of stability and grounding into my body to carry me through the day. I was imagining a flowering tree (it was Bloom’s day after all), with its roots firmly and widely planted, a strong robust trunk/spine which together created enough of an internal infrastructure to enable the optimal flowering and blossoming. Nature metaphors work wonders in yoga practice!

Next- a short meditation to quieten the critic and invite in again the bigger picture, and the mystery of it all. Yesterday, I needed about 10 minutes- enough to still the fizzy energy and bring it back to centre.

And then, what I call the flip practice. This one is essentially is about flipping over the critic voice in my brain and entertaining the opposite motion/ emotion. So, in my case yesterday, ‘What if people do get it, what if the website runs smoothly, what if it works brilliantly for me…’ With the opposite motion installed in our cognitive brains, fuel is given to our creative fires, fear is put in its proper place, and we can press go.

And so we had lift off.

Once again, thank you all for your support and encouragement. We are in this together.

Now to keep this ship a sailing….(and what fun it is to be blogging again!)

Thank you.

Clare xx

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Have you signed up to my mailing list?

I have designed a free Vision Guide: A 5 Step Toolkit to Clarify your Dream Future which includes a 10 minute audio meditation. Alongside that are free creative planners to help us integrate our creative goals and manifest our deepest desires into our days. Sign up here and you will be emailed a link to access them.


And we have lift off…

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Hello hello, and welcome.

With deep gratitude, and with abundant excitement I now officially launch this new website, my new Etsy shop, and the launch of my new venture, Zen Hen.

It has been an evolution.

First off, I start with Thanks– huge, deep and abundant.

 

No creation happens in isolation. To Catherine Pearson who crafted the brand and so beautifully engineered the site. Thank you. Catherine designed my previous website and so she was my first port of call. She brings quirk, style, refinement and patience. Would I recommend her? Always.

To Orlagh O’Brien, who so professionally and carefully designed the Seasonal Planners and resources- thank you. As a designer Orlagh does not just make things look nice but designs with the user in mind – first asking how things will be understood, and then leading with her design flair. Would I recommend her? Absolutely.

To Claire Wilson for her portraiture of me. Claire has a stunning talent that her camera lovingly and skillfully navigates, which I have been admiring for years. I am usually the one taking the photos, so it was a very new experience for me to step to the other side. I knew I would be in safe hands with Claire. Would I recommend her? It goes without saying…

And to my circle of friends, who have been cheerleading and offering unending support- thank you. Friendship really is key. And I include doggie friendship too- a thanks and rub to my little canine companion, Finn.

This all feels like a new home, a new iteration, and a new beginning. I can’t tell you how good it feels, with a healthy hint of nerves in the mix too.

I first started blogging in 2006. That led to a trip around the globe, which I blogged my way through, which led to a book, which led to a photography business and blog, which led to my previous website, One Wild Life, which led to many many doors opening. It has been a wonderful journey. But it was time not only for a fresh coat of paint, but a new house, from which I can build new dreams and cast my net further. So after much contemplation, letting go, letting come, this site has evolved. Here there will be writing, workshops, retreats, learning, creating, friendship, fun, support, adventure and change.

My door is open. Come in, explore, sit a while, read, relax, question. You are most welcome.

Be sure to sign up to my mailing list to get your FREE Vision Guide and Creative Planners, including an audio meditation and creative planners. When you sign up you will also get monthly updates with offerings, happenings and further resources.

Other things to check out:

Come Friday I will be also be launching a new interview series here, called ‘Creative Islanders’, profilling a behind the scenes look into some of the best creative brains and talent on this island. Be sure to tune in.

Zen Hen is now also live- this is my new offering which brings yoga, craft and beautiful celebrations to boutique venues around Ireland. Zen Hen has a website all of its own. Be sure to have a wander.

Yes, it has been an exciting few months as I have been busy preparing all of this behind the scenes. It is even more exciting now that it is out there in the world!

Welcome aboard, happy reading & discovering,

Beannacht, Blessings

Clare xx


Childhood Inclinations.

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What did you enjoy when you were younger?

And are you doing it now?

The chance that our natural inclinations or leanings were evident at a young age is high. Did you love to sing or dance? Did you love to play sport? Or do jigsaws? Were you passionate about bird-watching, or whales, or baking? What made you tick as a kid? And is that in your life now?

For me, when I was little, I can remember four main things- writing, drawing, making crafty things, and dogs. I was so passionate about dogs in fact that I wanted to be one. Alas not all dreams can come true! Art, however, I knew even back then was intrinsic to being. I would draw just for the sake of it, make things just for the love of it, without any expectation of the outcome. The point was the making; the doing.

Somewhere along the way I forgot all that.

The turning point had come with having to do my Leaving Certificate (final school exams). I had studied art all the way through school with the guidance of a brilliant art teacher (thank you Sidella O’Brien) and I really loved it. However, when exams loomed suddenly the enjoyment was substituted with ‘I need to get lots of points for this to get into college’, and something flipped. Once I sat my final exams my drawing days came to a sudden halt- it is there my portfolio ended as my focus shifted to college, and more exams. Academia seemed to push away the core my creative expression and as the academic system took a bigger hold on my life, I had less and less time for sketching and playing with clay figures -just for the love of it.

Unbeknownst to me I was pushing back a vital part of myself.

That is, until last year when something else happened which shifted it all again, beautifully so.

You see, I’d had a health scare. Awaiting test results and sitting in the unknown of it all,the vitality which I had pushed away however came suddenly and surprisingly running towards me, calling me back to this forgotten part myself. A deep urge arose, inviting me to my pen and paper, to draw again, just for the love of it.

I was skeptical at first and initially pushed it away. But the urge was strong, so I started to listen. As I did something else started happening too- a sense of calm arose, and much less fear. Time almost stands still when I’m drawing. Hours and hours can go by without me really noticing- I get absorbed. And so it was that I was fully distracted from thinking about test results. Boom. There it was again, that feeling from childhood, which had been with me all along but which I had chosen not to notice. But when I needed it the most it came, as a gift, like a familiar friend- the simple act of drawing.

I’m lucky. That scare turned out to be just that, a scare- thankfully.

But in the jolt was a big lesson for me- to tune deeply into what nourishes and vitalises my creative spirit, just for the sake of it.

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And so it is that these little creatures have started to visit. To me they are welcome guests, each bringing me healing, hope and giving my inner child a home again. I am happy also that a little doggie by the name of Finn is in my life now too, a steady companion to the creative process- in a waggy tail kind of way. She is a dream come true too.

What did you love to do as a child? And are you still doing it?

 

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yes I said yes I will yes

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Today I took to the polls, for today a big Tá was in order. That was a yes to equality, a yes to diversity and a yes freedom of speech and expression. Mostly it is a yes to love, in whatever guise it comes in. For love is love. Love does not have a gender. Love does not have a moral conscience. Love is the gravitational force that keeps this all together. And when I say ‘all’, I mean all of us.

Today, thousands of Irish citizens have taken to the booths and a wave of emigrants have come back to the island, #hometovote. It is an emotional day, which thousands more have fought for and even given their lives for. Oscar Wilde has been on my mind today. I vote too to honour him. His legacy set a train in motion. Today it feels like a new threshold will be passed. Whatever happens when the results come in tomorrow, there has been a shift in consciousness. Equality has been redefined.

Cycling through the streets of Dublin over the last few days, meeting Yes canvasser after Yes canvasser, seeing people of all hues and colours wearing Yes stickers has made my heart burst open and a few tears be shed. We literally are reconstituting the world.

My heart is moved by all I cannot save:

so much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those

who age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power,

reconstitute the world.” – Adrienne Rich.

And through the ordinariness of our lives, and through the power generated through our collective power, here we are, reconstituting.

yes I said yes I will yes.”


One Wild Life: The Evolution

Hello and welcome.

It is so exciting to be here. For those of you who have been following my missives and musings for a while, you will know that I have been writing and blogging under the website and banner of One Wild Life. It was a great online home for a while, but I had been sensing an evolution brewing. What you see here has emerged from those 7 years of blogging and a lot of amazing experiences and connections. So it is farewell to this view, and a welcoming of the new…

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I decided not to carry over my previous blog. It was time for a fresh start, and a chance to let go of the past and allow the future to emerge. Starting with a blank slate has been wonderfully enlivening and I am so excited to get going on this new iteration of my work.

For those who have been following along all these years, I so appreciate your support and I hope we can journey together over the coming years. And for those new here, you are so very welcome. Have a look around and be sure to sign up to my newsletter for updates, happenings and free resources.

Onwards.