wrapping it up, ballinglen
I'm feeling sad and sentimental today, my last day in Ballycastle. I've become quite attached to this place where I've been living and working since the beginning of October...this beautiful county of Mayo, both subtle and dramatic in its varied landscape, and its people so welcoming and kind. Despite an eagerness to be home and the knowledge that I'll be back next year, it is still hard to leave. I took the photo below on my last walk to the Ballycastle beach this morning, a walk I've taken often since arriving, in all kinds of weather and times of day.
Even greater than all these bittersweet departing feelings, though, is a deep sense gratitude for this gift of time, space, support and opportunity. There are lots of people to acknowledge who have made this possible, including Margo Dolan and Peter Maxwell (founders of Ballinglen), Una Forde and Chrissie Tighe, who keep the place running with great warmth and efficiency, and my family for understanding so well what these residencies mean to me. There are lots of other people who have made my stay memorable, including Gretta Byrne (archaeologist at Ceide Fields), my fellow artists at Ballinglen (artists-in-residence Jim Lee, Vauney Strahan and Allyson Keehan, as well as those who live nearby, Keith Wilson and Nuala Clarke) my friend Paul Joyce who showed me around Dublin and Skerries, Mary at Mary's Cottage Kitchen who fed the workshop, all the people who came to that workshop, my friend Kate Hale Wilson who visited and provided the great excuse to get out driving, Mary at the grocery store who lent me books, Mary Lavelle-Burke who gave Kate and I a memorable tour of Achill Island, Stuart Shils who offered lots of advice before I left on what to see, people following my residency on facebook and this blog, and all the friendly people of Ballycastle who have been so kind to greet and chat and show off their dogs. Before I came to Ballinglen, I thought mainly of the work I would do and the scenic opportunities, but in leaving I find that people have been as much a part of the experience as any other aspect.
Below, the artists in my workshop, early October, on Easky beach (photo courtesy of Conway Restom of Australia.)
A week or so ago I started a to-do list for leaving, and it was the first such list I have had since the workshop week at the beginning (when I had a lot of details to attend to.) In the intervening weeks. my list was in my head, and very simple--paint, draw, make monoprints, walk, eat, check email and facebook. I called home quite a lot, to stay in touch with family. Once in awhile I went someplace, or attended to laundry or shopping. I spent a few wonderful days in Dublin, and a fun week when my friend visited driving around to various beautiful spots. Clearly this time was idyllic, and removed from most daily concerns. My work was my main focus, and I experienced growth, excitement, and new ideas. I especially loved doing small, fairly quick pieces in monoprint, chalk and mixed media. Some days they just poured out of me.
I ended up taking over two studios, since there was an empty one...here are shots from one of my last days of working, first of my waterbased/mixed media studio and then my oil painting studio.
I believe it will take some time to process my experiences here, and that will happen in the months ahead, in the studio and in conversation and perhaps in my blog posts. At the moment I am still here and savoring each remaining moment. Everything is packed and I've said most of my good-byes. Leaving in the morning for Dublin and flying home on Tuesday with a full heart and many memories.