The Art of Remembering

Exhibition 2 Aug 2015-2

Sometimes things take you by surprise and tell you something about yourself which had long laid hidden. That something can be a good thing; a thing that was with you all along but you had unintentionally ignored, or even chosen to ignore. Or even it was just time passing which took you away from it, further and further until it became a dot on a distant horizon, hazy and doubtful.

If you had said to me 11 months ago that I would be having an exhibition of illustrations I would have laughed. Me? Sure I haven’t drawn in years.

I used to, back then, somewhere along that hazy horizon zone of time. But I had forgotten. I had forgotten the feeling of inky hands and the organic, unpredicable relationship between paint and water. I had forgotten the gentle undulating feeling of textured watercolour paper or the way you need to carefully navigate a nib from an inkwell. I didn’t remember that I had once so enjoyed the feeling of the exact moment when the pen touches a surface with the intention to draw. Or how time can slip away; hours feeling like glimpses. Or the concentration it takes. Or the sense of having to let the image speak to you. Or what it takes to know when to stop. I had forgotten.

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Twenty years later a knowing has returned. It is a surprise to me this, a big one. Yet it is as if a familiar friend has come back with new stories to tell and images to conjure of distant lands. Or even deeper, now that I am painting, I feel fuller again, more me. It is like a chunk of myself was missing and now that it is here, things are starting to make sense again and I am understanding my programming in a new light. I am finding a certain capacity for calmness, and an exhilaration which I knew existed but I had suspected someone had locked away and permanently misplaced the key.

It wasn’t so hard to unlock after all. It just meant following an urge, showing up to a blank page and allowing my hand to remember. It has somehow been there all along. I had just been intent on forgetting.

Things can happen quickly. Time has done that funny dance, distorting what you think might be possible. So 11 months on, my first solo exhibition has been mounted. It is small but attended to with love and gratitude. Plus it serves as a whopping reminder that you never ever know what is coming. Sometimes we just need to show up to the blank page and let the remembering remember.

If you would like to see or purchase the drawings and are in the area on West Waterford head on down to Blackwater Garden Centre Cafe, outside Dungarvan- hosted by the delightful and welcoming Anne McKenna. (Huge thanks to Anne for enabling this and welcoming me and my artwork with such warmth and openness. She serve lovely tea and cakes too 🙂

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Exhibition 2 Aug 2015-1

 

Exhibition Aug 2015-3

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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