Friday, June 21, 2013


Alliums on Matt's table

In a week that contained parts resembling a bad TV drama (absolutely nothing to do with my sister's first week in Ireland), I have reached Friday craving simplicity.

Apparently, I cannot even call myself an aspiring minimalist (I prefer the term Voluntary Simplicity anyway), as I show no signs of turning my house into an empty white box, but I accumulate far less stuff than the average person. However, things still have a habit of building up in volume eventually, and I spent several hours in cathartic mode - getting rid of shoes that are not compatible with my knee problem, doing paperwork, sorting through the pile of cuttings that I tend to chuck into a drawer rather than filing straightaway.

Part of me thinks I have no need to hold on to bits from magazines and newspapers, but going through them last night was inspiring, and I see the creative necessity for notebooks and folders filled with these snippets that I deemed worth revisiting. The randomness of this collection sparks connections and associations that help get me unstuck when it comes to art-making.

So I try to resist the frequent urge to throw them all out and delete all my bookmarks and my e-mail archives and give away all my paintings and drawings until everything is just pleasingly calm, empty space, because I can see how that is dangerously close to an anorexic mindset (the desire to take up as little space as possible and ultimately to disappear).

My sister and brother-in-law are waiting for the containers with all their stuff, and the whole operation makes me think how much easier it would be to own so little that moving would not be weighed down by one's possessions, but then again I am hardly planning a nomadic lifestyle, and I like being surrounded by books, art, clothes and objects that remind me of the people in my life, and as long as I stay on top of clutter and the cuttings are filed rather than jumbled together in a drawer, I feel comfortable. Outer order does contribute to inner calm, at least for anxious people like myself.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

This week


|  The programmes for this year's Colours Fringe Festival (I seem to be using a lot of turquoise and seagreen these days, as my sister pointed out). My work-related To-Do list is getting shorter, and I can feel myself slowly transitioning into summer holiday mode.

|  Still enjoying the remains of flowers I received a few weeks ago, which now populate various smaller vases. 

|  Judith Kerr turned 90 this week. There is something special about her books and her illustrations. I have fond memories of Mog the cat, who existed in real life, and cannot wait to get Creatures, the new book. Click here for a slideshow and here for a video of Kerr reading from and talking about her work.

|  Wearing my Noa Noa balloon pants (they look better with wedges, but around the house it's mostly flip flops/ barefoot). The sun makes an appearance every few days, then it's back to wind and rain. The latter was what greeted my sister and brother-in-law's arrival, but so far they remain in high spirits. And it looks like it's a sunny day today, so it might yet turn into a weekend for the beach, like last week.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Galway Bay Folk Tales

Rab received copies of his book Galway Bay Folk Tales (published by The History Press Ireland, illustrated by me) this week, and it is so lovely to have something tangible and beautifully produced at the end of a project. Of course this is mainly Rab's work - for every simple black-and-white picture I drew (one or two per chapter) he laboured over hundreds and hundreds of words, bringing the myths and legends to life with his unique storyteller voice. And the History Press did a fantastic job of putting it all together, with everything that entails. 

 The gorgeous cover illustration is by Katherine Soutar.


Saturday, June 1, 2013


 Tiny... tall.

Pink and yellow on paper...

...and in the garden.

The hawthorn is spectacular from a distance, but beautiful in detail, too.

"A few years ago Hockney was so frustrated at having to leave home before the hawthorn came into flower that his annual diary was re-arranged so that he could guarantee to be there for what he describes as 'action week', that moment when nature explodes from winter monochrome into spring colour." (The Guardian, 24 May 2013)

I was reminded of David Hockney's endeavour to capture 'action week' today, because the hawthorn seems to have erupted everywhere overnight, and more and more colours sprinkle the greys of the Burren.

There are fresh flowers on my table, a new soap in the shower, and the tulips in the Burren Perfumery's herb garden happened to be the colours I was using for a background I painted.

The water we drink is infused with mint, and I dream of having a lemon balm bush like the one in my mom's garden and making tea from it. Apparently it is easy to grow here, too.

All these scents and colours are an antidote to a rather stressful few weeks. I may have a seemingly endless To Do list and a woefully empty fridge, but I do make time to stop and smell the roses tulips.