Another Spring, Another Blog Post

I have just noticed that it always seems to be the same time of year that I write my one blog post, it looks like I plan it that way, but I promise you I haven't. Like everything, I sort of hate it, or at least the idea of doing it, right before I begin, but then once I'm into it I quite enjoy it, and to be fair I don't write nearly enough. Perhaps you know this feeling? It must be that in the Spring, I get a burst of energy that lifts me just above the level of can't-bother-my-arse-ness that seems to plague me the rest of the year. In fact if you look closely you'll notice I didn't do one at all last year.

Anyway... writing is good, and I do love it really, and it's just as well because I am scheduled to return to university this year. I've been working closely with a group based locally called ArtsBase, who provide arts psychotherapy services in the area to people with a whole range of needs from depression to autism, to addiction, or folks who are just a bit lost, and the results are always beneficial and life enhancing for these people using the service. As I've got to know more about the process of how art can be such a positive force for change in the microcosm of any individual's life, and with some gentle encouragement from the ArtsBase team, I decided to apply for a masters in Art Psychotherapy and low and behold they offered me a place! So looking forward to that, already I am beginning to feel my relationship with art deepening and strengthening, as I begin my journey.

It seems this period is one for massive(ish) life changes, as last year was the year I moved out of Saltburn-by-the-sea, where I had spent the previous sixteen years. OK, so the change hasn't been that earth shattering, as I've only moved about 4 miles away, and my studio is still in Saltburn, but the geography of this area is very different, as is the social vibe. My new home is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, right on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. It's inland, so the thing I miss most I suppose is living next to the sea, getting on the beach practically every morning, and while I live in a village of 100 houses, it can still feel pretty isolated up here. Having said that, I love it. My neighbours are just the right kind of crazy, I have the woods literally touching my back garden, gorgeous views from each window, and fantastic walks in every direction. Here have a look:

These are all summer photos needless to say, taken last year. But I can't wait to get back to those sunny months, which really are idyllic when you live "in the sticks".

I submitted two drawings to a thing called the Jerwood Drawing Prize last year, it's sort of the premier award for people who draw in this country. Although actually winning the prize is a loftier ambition than I possess, there is an exhibition showcasing the promising entries. Unfortunately I didn't get selected for this either, which was a bit disappointing because I actually felt that these pieces were among the best I've done.

Wild Boar

Corvids II

Anyway, the good news is that these are back in my studio, and available for you to buy, should you feel so inclined!

I'll apply again this year, not to be discouraged, and an old tutor of mine once told me that they often keep the same selectors on the panels for these things, so it's best to keep applying year on year so they get to know your face and develop a bit of a relationship with your work.

I did have a good start to 2018 in the studio, managing to get a good few paintings made, here is some of the work in progress, keep an eye on the gallery page to see the finished articles.

I also found myself back in the Inspired By gallery at Danby Moors Centre for a superb exhibition based on a Nocturnal Moors theme, which allowed me to experiment with light and landscape a bit more than I have up to now. The show had a ton of top talent painters in, including Peter Hicks, Joe Cornish and Len Tabner! It actually finishes this weekend the last day to view it is the 15th April (sorry for the short notice!) but if you can get up there it is well worth a visit.

I decided to make a St. Bridget's Cross on St. Bridget's day this year for the crack. It's really lovely just to sit and make things, especially using the natural materials like the rushes, which I had collected from the nearby pond. I never see them any more, even at home in Ireland, but I remember a time when every kitchen you drank tea in had one over the stove or fireplace. I'm sure I can remember my brother making one in school and bringing it home, when I was only about five or six years old. It was traditionally an offering to St. Bridget, or to some pagan gods in the days before Christianity, to ask for favourable weather in the coming agricultural year, and a good harvest come autumn. I also read that it is believed that if you had harsh weather on St. Bridget's day then you were in for a nice early start to spring, and good conditions for the rest of the year, and the opposite if the day was mild. Well, it was absolutely beautiful, and sure enough who should visit us for the next 6 weeks only storm Emma! There may be some wisdom in these old beliefs.

All the best to ye!

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