Sunday, December 21, 2014

Where's Noel?

Last Friday I went to see An Evening with Noel Fielding in the Olympia, up in Dublin. For the record, it was pure magic, totally wonderful and completely inspiring, and I haven't stopped talking about it since. Food for the soul. Lovely, deep brilliance that will sustain me for another while :)

There was lots of lovely merchandise, and if I had bottomless pockets I would have picked up more than just the program. It's a stunning book, and has pride of place at the moment, nested into a display of cat paraphernalia, owls, a box of vintage magic poster post cards and all my most favorite things...

At the back of the program is a page of little characters from the show. Sweet little outlines in the style of paper dolls, almost, asking for you to colour, cut out and create, in the hopes of winning a Brian Ferry kite. Well, if I was a bit more hard core, I might have ripped that page straight out of the book and began filling in with crayons. But it's too precious, so I opted for the next best thing. 

I've taken the liberty of adding in Fantasy Man, my own polar bear and tiger and bringing everyone into my world. I wanted to finish it for the solstice (today) and while everything was still fresh in my mind from the show. I even put Noel into the shirt he wore on the night, to anchor it in reality.

I'm looking forward to seeing what other people come up with, but it would be nice to win the kite. That would be so cool.



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Something New

Recently I have come across some time lapse videos of artists creating their work. Time lapse videos are so interesting because they capture the process of creating so clearly. So yesterday, with YouTube as my guide, I embarked on making my very own time lapse. 

I used quick time to take a screen recording (which may explain why the video is slightly blurry...or maybe I speeded it up too much?) which was exciting in itself. Recording in real time, decisions being made...I have edited all of the 'looking' in the beginning out because this really was just a learning exercise. Once I landed on the screen shot of Karla Crome from Misfits I knew that I was onto something. 

I have been playing around with a drawing for some time, and wanted to use her in it - she has a lovely, mournful face sometimes..My drawings are built up over time. They are usually made up of LOADS of layers, sometimes folders of layers on top of folders of layers. But each element ie. bodies, faces, hands, arms, background, animals etc, are all done on separate layers and basically independent of each other. In this way, they are built up, and completely editable. This gives me enormous freedom to play and mess and make mistakes without worrying about 'losing it' or ruining the finished piece.

I definitely plan on using this quick sketch in the future, and will make other time lapse videos of it's progress from quick sketch to finished piece.
I hope you enjoy and don't get too dizzy!

Sunday, October 26, 2014


I guess it is appropriate coming up to Halloween that I should see a ghost. I don't mean a translucent specter...those actually don't frighten me at all. It very much is the ghosts of those people still walking amongst us that I am referring to. The ones you have forgotten...buried...that pop out from around corners when you least expect it. 

The past is in the past. We forgive and forget. And I forget very well. I am highly skilled in forgetting. I should have a certificate. So it genuinely throws me for a moment when a ghost pops up, unexpectedly, out of the blue, when I am usually in quite a vulnerable position. 

I promise I am not dwelling, I am digesting and hopefully being helpful because I'm sure many people can relate to this sort of situation. 

Society has put in to place a lovely set dialogue for such an occurrence. If one is inclined to enter into conversation with ghosts. It goes something like this:
(try to compose your face in a surprised but not shocked sort of way, an open smile with bright eyes usually does the trick. Use closed sentences that already have the answer you are looking for weaved into them)

"Oh, it's nice to see you! It's been awhile. You're looking well. You must be down for the weekend, at least the weather is not too bad - wasn't the summer fab. Everything alright, yeah? Well this has been nice - I'm running late you see, can't stop. Good to see you, take care. Good Bye."

Of course it is a terribly vacant way to conduct yourself. Small talk is great for many things. It is a human service we can all provide. But ghosts are different. You can put small talk on them if your are really really in a corner somewhere with no escape. 
Otherwise, remember that they are ghosts for a very specific reason. Be polite and civil, but don't enter into deep and meaningful dialogues with them, or you may find yourself repeating your own past over and over again. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Post Wind Casualty

The transition between summer and winter in Ireland is always something to be marveled at. I mean, at the best of times, we don't really have set seasons here. You can get all of them in a day - and by all I mean 27, because let's face it, there definitely isn't just 4. 
Autumn can be gentle - dreamy mornings of fog and dew lined spider webs. Or it can be violent - gale force winds howling while multicolored leaves do a jig across the lawn.

YOU must be grounded to embrace Irish wind - it really is a force of nature. Turning on and off quite suddenly at times.
And with it, comes the casualties. This is some lovely (but way too tall) willow at the back of my studio. When it is windy, and sunny, the willow dances and casts the most marvelous shadows and dappled light. But for such a spindly, bendable tree, it doesn't fare well in the wind. Two weeks ago, there was another large branch on the far side broken by the wind. But, while it looks slightly desperate, it doesn't seem to bother the willow one bit - it just sends out new shoots, coppices, and gets on with it. 
When I was having my tea this morning, far too early, it was still dark out, in the pale light just creeping in, I saw the MOST spectacular elegant wonderful Mr. Heron being blown about in flight. He just about managed to steer himself in a tight circle to land, quite gracefully, in our pond. I haven't seen one for too long, so I was ecstatic, as you can well imagine. 

I think life - like the wind - is an unpredictable creature. Sometimes it can blow us off course, and we land somewhere we hadn't intended. It can flatten us, we are on the ground, not able to get back up. 
But we are SO able. Nature shows us that. And we are a part of nature (no matter how much technology comes in to our lives, we are not machines, not yet anyway).
We can grow and send out new shoots. We can lift ourselves back up in different ways. Take another route. Try something different. Look at it from a different angle. If you are rooted, you can still grow, even when you fall. 
And who's to say that where you land isn't just as lovely as where you thought you were going? It's a detour, but you don't have to stay there forever. 

Make the most of everything. Even the 'bad' things. 

Friday, September 19, 2014


I have been making necklaces all week. The table is set, and I have been adding bits and pieces as the days have gone on. I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying it, as so much of my other work is digital and intricate...this feels very real and natural. Natural in the process of making, should I say?

The Hama Beads are so finicky, but the effect is quite striking. I must get some different colours, like grey and shades of blue.
The cluster necklaces have been a complete joy! I've been collecting and gifted beads for years, saved broken necklaces and picked things up along the way. It feels quite exciting to be now using these treasures to create something totally different and new. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

14 Days

Recently I collaborated with a very talented writer and musician. Over 14 days, I did quick 30min sketches, emailed them to him, and he responded with a poem. We decided to leave them 'as is' without further tweaking or edits - o.k that's a lie, we did a tiny minimal amount of editing, otherwise I would have been tempted to finish the really sketchy ones. Overall I think the result is rather interesting because it shows how I work - pulling collages together first in order to work out my ideas, then the sketchy draft and lastly the finished, polished piece. 
I really enjoyed this project as it allowed me to quickly work out some things that had been floating around in my head and loosely scribbled in notebooks. The time limit and the thought that my collaborator was waiting for my drawings added a nice pressure. There are still 4 more that need their accompanying written piece, but they will be updated when that happens. I hope you find the finished result interesting :)

We must get to the slopes, past 
The choppy waves, I have a wish
In my bones to arrive, it does not
Matter if I'm asleep or awake.

A howling gale is splashing the waters 
And wrinkles grip my skin like ropes, 
The mast of my sail is still strong and 
My compass gives right direction and scope.

After a cold evening playing outside
Toes licked at the fireplace,
And the eyes and face have felt
The rising chimney stacks
Bricked across suburban 
Heights unbothered 
In the sun.

Biscuit crumbs on
The carpet,
I'm not allowed,
But I want to,
The gate is pretty
Hard and it holds
The velvet lake of lips,
Sculpted and

The grass seed is still hard,
Too heavy for the wind and
Quiet as monks in a canoe,

Dragonflies move closer
To the time when they will
Be spread out on a tablecloth,
Or drying on a clothes horse

By a fire, upended 
And cast aside.

It is not found here,
It is in the valleys and the fields
Under the clouds that rain down
And the leaves that fall.
It is in the train that passes by 
mucking the sleet, burning the coals,
Under street lamps upon coastal
Promenades smashed by winds
And in the hedges sheltering the birds.
It is in the trickle running down the bark 
And on the spade standing at the shed,
Quietly waiting without a word,
Asking for no more.

Rock has two or three colors, depending
On the season. The north facing wall has 
Marks and lichens, put there in cold fronts.

October birch is pale faced as a baby in 
A pram spinning a rattle of doves and fishes,

Waiting to leave and be set 
Alight with the bulrushes.

In dreams,
Change shape,
They want to be like us, make
Love, but when
They awake they revert
Back to their own ways.
Uploading data and
Adding numbers,
Repeating function.
It would be nice to touch
Skin, or in the right moment be frank.

Shelves of rain on the meadow
As if they were
Ghosts in the wild

Twinkling in swathy complexions
Moving southwards
Over the bog,

Horseman's boot upon the peat
And a martyr 
For the cause,

For a moment, taking
A leap
Of Suicide.

Never a fear in play, springing
Around in silhouettes, jumping at
Flies and annoying horses

Only when I lie down
Do you come and smell me,
Fast and innocent

Patter paw on dirty floor

Came to see you and say hello.
I just wanted to go there and see
What happens. It's good to get 
Away. I'll know when I get there!
Last time on the train I fell asleep
In one town and woke up in another.
Do you still go to the woods every
Morning after breakfast and pick
Flowers. I like that. I should make 
More time for my own morning 
Strolls. My Mother is asking for you,
'Are you's two stilling palling around
With each other'. I wish She wouldn't
Ask anymore, but mother's are like 
That, so its alright. Anyway, I am your
Pal! I'll call next week.

Take care.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


September feels very much like the start of a new year for me. I don't know if that's left over programming from being a student for most of my life, or if it's being super in tune with the seasons...but it's a nice feeling. A fresh start. The whitethorn is busy blushing away outside. Most things are beginning to take on a little golden glow, while the flowers are on their last stretch...some late bloomers and second flushes stand out like neon against everything else.
I am busy writing and making lists. The last month has been so busy, formative, enlightening, wonderful and inspiring. I have *too many* pet projects at the moment. But it's brilliant. I don't think I've ever had so many ideas and little side projects going at the same time, so it feels great!

One thing I'm working on at the moment is a self portrait, something I haven't even thought of doing since...maybe 2nd year of college? This is a tiny clip of it. My plan is for it to be quite massive, incorporating quite a few ideas that have been swimming around in my head for some time. Drawing myself has been a learning experience for sure. It was very tempting when I started to alter my shape and size, for purely vain reasons. But I was very strict with myself. A self portrait is a self portrait...if your going to start editing yourself it loses all meaning. There's enough fantastical things going on without me cutting down my dress size. Besides...aren't we supposed to be living in a more accepting, bikini body, feminist etc society?

The number 5 seems to hold a significance in my life that I am only now beginning to explore and understand. It has been 5 years since my last proper visit to Kylemore (where I went to school for 5th and 6th year). Most of my relationships last in and around 5 years unless they are particularly strong or deep. When I clocked this I delved a little further. Numerology looks at the shape of the number as well as other factors. And 5 is the most dynamic and energetic of all the single digit numbers. It is also in constant need of change. Which would explain this 5 year phenomena that appears to govern my life. It is something that deeply interests me and I would like to look at in more detail and drag in to my work :)

I spent 3 lovely days with a really amazing friend recently. The energy and inspiration from that magical time has food for my soul.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dublin Zine Fair

So the annual Dublin Zine Fair took place last weekend (I know, it's taken a whole week to digest! (well actually other things have happened in the mean time, but more on that later)). My dear friend was kind enough to bring my box of tricks up with her, as I couldn't actually make it myself, unfortunately. But alas, they were well received, and the weekend by all accounts, was a wonderful success. 

Here I am, looking slightly deranged in the lead up to the weekend. I wouldn't normally be one to document myself in such a way, but the photo does have a purpose, see here.

This year, my contribution was a zine made up of some details from my most recent drawings. On the backs of each page is a personal reflection. It felt very natural to create such a thing, combining my love for drawing and writing in a very truthful and raw way. 

Thanks Jane for being such a legend and holding down the fort! It looks lovely x

And thank you to all who went home with a bit of ShelkyBean. To know that you connected with the work in such a way that you couldn't leave it behind means the world to me. That what it's all about.

Also, well done to the girls of BabyBeef for facilitating and co-ordinating such a wonderful event. Fingers Crosses I'll be at the next one!

In relation to the double parenthesis at the start of this entry, something rather magic happened during the week which has to be made into a zine. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, June 30, 2014


I'm tickled pink my drawing She Said Goodbye to the Circus will be shown as part of the GAZE International LGBT Film Festival in The Front Lounge Bar, in Dublin.
It's a real honor to be part of it and I can't wait to see where she goes up and what pieces will be around her. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Things to do

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a hobby as: 
An activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.

Recently, I realized that I don't actually have any hobbies. Everything that I do has a purpose. I know that reading is probably one thing, but it is rarely done in a relaxed manner...usually I eat up a chapter of something or other when I'm having a tea break, or over breakfast. I wouldn't call gardening a hobby because I see it more of a necessity in my life. I think it's an important element to my lifestyle...not really something I don for the fun of it (although I do enjoy it immensely).

So yesterday I surprised myself by doing something purely for the fun of it. I have a large collection of internet tutorials and inspirational images gathered over the years. I always mean to sit down and do one of them. So yesterday I actually did... mostly because I was up at the crack of dawn and had done literally everything else I could think of. 

Vases are a thing I don't have a heap of, and pots for that matter, but that's for another day! I do however have a handful of old glass bottles and jars, dug up over the last few years from our veg patch...they didn't really recycle 70 years ago. So, with tutorial firmly planted in my head, I set myself up outside and began wrapping...!

All you need is PVA and some wool or thread or string (or tissue paper etc). It's so easy and methodical, I could have sat doing it all day. The electric green one is a stringy wool made of lime green and a grey/purple which looks bizarre, but very cool (I think). The large bottle is a wool that is dyed like that, with all the colours changing. It's really nice to crochet with too. 
I know, they are a bit made, but I really REALLY enjoyed making them and can see the potential in them as well. 

Also, my hydrangea is beginning to bloom for the first time in...4 years (?) Check that blue out. I can hardly wait for the globes of prussian blue to appear! They will be here and in the house and in my hair and in my car...JOY

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Happiness is...

The sunlight being so strong it can pass through the tiny gaps in my sun hat, creating this amazing pattern

 Being so warm outside, my indoor plants can come out for awhile...

This face, being in my face...

 Electric orange and sky blue...

Inside, outside, inside...

Going to Achill, dressed up to the 9's...

A mountain inside a cloud...

The sun still setting at 11:20

And now, after several amazing days of sun and heat, the rain has come. I don't know if you know, but the smell of rain after a dry spell like that is called is such an indescribable smell, but so delicate and beautiful. 
It's so important to make the most of all things, the sun, the warmth, the rain. It is all so needed and wonderful. Now the plants are getting a drink. It's magic really.

Friday, June 20, 2014

It's time to make...

Elderflower Cordial!

The most lovely thing to do this time of year, is to capture that magic sun and bottle it. Stored correctly, you can drink up the sunshine throughout winter. With Midsummer fast approaching, make the most of the long days and short nights. Go on, get out there and forage!
Ever wanted to make your own? There's still time and it couldn't be easier:

20 bunches of flowers
2.5 pints of boiling water
3.5 lbs sugar
2tsp citric acid (you can get this in the chemist)

Put everything into a large bowl or saucepan (something you won't miss for a few days) and pour over the water. Stir and cover, leave this for five days somewhere it won't be disturbed. Strain into sterilized, sealable bottles, or make into ice cubes to store in the freezer.
Mix with sparkling water for Champagne!

Elderflower, or Boo trees, are literally everywhere. They can be found along hedgerows, growing next to old ruins of buildings, and in most rural fields. Be sure you know what your looking for before you go out. And if you've left it too long and are picking Elderberries instead, make sure to cook them before you eat them or a nasty case of food poisoning awaits me, I know.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Flowers for Gwyn

We adopted you from the MSPCA when I was in my Junior Cert year. You had been wandering around the foot of Croagh Patrick for a little while, pulling on the heartstrings of tourists and people living in the area for meals. A Black Fairy Dog. No one knew where you had come from...did your original owner die and not provide for you...what was your original name? We don't know, but you were a bit of a mystery. A quiet, polite Labrador, even at dinner time. You spent the first few days as sentinel, lying at the front door, or the side door, taking it all in and standing guard. You and Reilly instantly got on. In fact, you were perfect from the very first day, no adopted doggie teething problems. And Eoghain named you Gwyn. 

Of course, being a lovely Lab, you were drawn to water like a dog shaped magnet. No matter how invisible it was, you would find in. In every shape and form. Daily dips in the river - rain, hail, snow or blow, but especially in the summer to cool off. Dew drops where an accessory you wore with pride, and I will miss kissing them off your snout. Black as night, you were truly radiant in snow. And it was always adorable see you snuffling for something buried underneath.

You could disappear within the landscape, which is why I really think you were actually a fairy dog, and reappear somewhere I didn't expect. You were solid, and grounded and steady. Which in turn grounded us around you. And placid. So gentle. So easy going. 

Yin and Yang, you and Reilly. No two dogs could be more opposite in energy and looks, but having said that, you complemented each other so well, and spent so much time together just hanging out. And when the cats came, you welcomed them like a mother bear. Providing a nook for them to sleep in and a friendly face. You were an amazing watch dog, first to sound the alarm, and only ever for good reason. You were very discerning that way. And other ways picking only the ripe blackberries off the briars to eat.
Reilly misses you desperately.

Gwyn-dy, you loved belly rubs, and I'm pretty sure if you could have them 24/7, that still wouldn't satisfy. You also did funny doggie yoga, like this hip opening pose, and could stay like this for up to 3mins...I timed you. Upside down vampire doggie smile also made me crack up. You were incredibly funny in your own quiet how you would steal spuds as we would dig them, and then pretend that you hadn't just been caught red handed. You also did this clever thing of distracting Reilly during dinner by sounding the 'fake' alarm, so you could rob his food - very sneaky but so clever we couldn't be cross with you.

Gwyn, you were always first to announce our arrival, and always there to greet us with a smile when we got home. You loved everyone unconditionally (which must be written into the Labrador code of ethics somewhere) even people afraid of dogs loved you. Walks with you were ambling and steady, taking in every little detail, appreciating life in all its forms. You seemed to get younger as you got older (a lessen to us all) and stayed a true lady till the bitter end.
Gwyn, my heart, our hearts are broken. You have been such a huge part of our lives, such an inspiration, a care giver, friend, companion, protector, beautiful soul and gentle loving creature. We will always love you and wish you blessings on your way.
Thank you for coming into our lives, lovely girl xxx

Flowers for Gwyn