Many years ago when I was a recently qualified architect I signed up for ‘The ‘I’ in Writing’, an evening course offered by Trinity College Dublin and open to anyone who wished to attend. The reading list ranged across prose, poetry, short stories and novels. The first piece of writing up for discussion was a classic novel I had always disliked so I went along reluctantly after a long day at work. Within minutes I was glued to my seat in total awe as Eavan Boland, having made us all feel welcome, verbally dismantled the book. It was like witnessing a tsunami blowing away stuffy air and cobwebs, replacing them with fresh ideas, and all done with clarity and style.
I loved that course, attended by such a wide range of people, conducted by a different lecturer each week and held in one of the theatres of the Arts Block. I never had the courage to voice an opinion, but I never missed a single moment after that first evening.
In these strange times of Covid induced quietness it seems nature is ever more present. It is a beautiful evening, perfect to see Venus at her brightest tonight and the new crescent moon.
Eavan Boland passed away today. May she rest in peace.
THE STORY BEHIND THE PAINTING;
Since 2019 I have been developing the concept of representing on canvas the atmosphere created by musicians, storytellers, poets, dancers and singers. I contacted Muireann Ni Dhuigneain as I was particularly interested in finding some sacred harp music, and following that conversation she commissioned me to create a painting- leaving the brief wide open.
The painting evolved, a group of musicians emerged, seated around a table shaped like a fiddle. From the outset the musicians, even the instruments were not the focal point, rather the notes merging and blending.
Once I had the group in place I had the idea of inviting Muireann, a musician herself, to help me bring the painting to life.
M U I R E A N N ' S T E S T I M O N I A L
What a wonderful opportunity to work with an artist of the calibre of Sheena Meagher on the ‘Gold Ring’ Commission. Knowing that I had no previous skill or practical experience of the physical art of painting, Sheena encouraged me to take a very active part in the project from start to finish. She gently probed my thought process behind the commission, explored on several levels, what the picture meant to me and quietly encouraged me to represent this by physically putting paint on the canvas.
I spent a most enriching and empowering day in her studio where on a one to one basis, she guided me to understand the colour palette, encouraged me to practice on a smaller painting, as she gently oversaw my initial tentative and feeble efforts become more confident and recognisable. By the afternoon, in her view, I was ready to work with her on the actual painting of the ‘Gold Ring’ commission. This process engaged us for a further two sessions in the studio which resulted in a deeper and more profound painting.
Personally, the impact was immense as physically and emotionally I felt a deeper and more profound connection with the painting than I ever thought possible. While a recording of Willie Clancy, the renowned uileann piper quietly played this beautiful tune on a mobile phone in the background, it suddenly came to life on canvas, as it weaved its way through the fingers and instruments of the four musicians depicted in the painting, to create an amazing sound rising into the atmosphere. Now, each time I look at the painting, I clearly hear the tune, in all its glorious seven parts and my spirit is uplifted with joy and admiration.
I am happy to recommend Sheena Meagher and her unique, thoughtful, experiential process for a very personal, inclusive, profound and practical experience of completing a commission.
‘Ní neart go cur le chéile’. Míle buíochas.
Muireann Ní Dhuigneáin
I was lucky to see Tchaikovsky ‘s Swan Lake twice in the past 6 months, once at Glor, Ennis with the Ballet Ireland, and in Bord Gais Energy Theatre with the Moscow City Ballet. I was blown away by the performances, the music, the story.
Work in progress of the White Scenes, depicting the Swans in the reeds held held captive by the evil Sorcerer Von Rothbart. The lake was formed by the tears of their parents' weeping.
‘There are some poems that feel like guarantees of your work to yourself.’
For me there are some periods that feel like guarantees of your work to yourself. The times I spend at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig are some. The investment I made going to Djerassi Artists Residence in California was another.
I feel this is one of those times. This time of 'not quite lockdown' and covid 19.
Staying true, being honest, especially to yourself, and allow the heart and the creative self to blossom.