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   Welcome to my blog! I'll be posting thoughts about art, photos, happenings, and other things that strike me--and hopefully my readers--as interesting. And please visit my website by clicking the link to the right--thanks!

   Also please check out my second blog, The Painting Archives to see older (pre-2004) paintings for sale.


Sunday, October 19, 2014
  back in ballycastle

 
 
As I write this, it is my first night back in Ballycastle, County Mayo, where I came last year for the first time for a fellowship at Ballinglen Arts Foundation.  I have the same cottage as last year, and have spent the evening settling in, making some food, having a glass of wine by the peat fire (that I’ve remembered how to coax into life!)  A sweet, sad flute melody is playing in the background--there is no internet in the cottage, or phone, or TV. Only the radio, a program tonight of traditional Irish instrumental music.

In unpacking and making the space mine again for the next five weeks, I was amused to recognize a fossil rock on the bathroom windowsill as one I put there last year (in spite of the plea in the orientation packet not to leave fossils and rocks in the cottage, lots of the artists seem to do it!) In the cupboard, I discovered a mostly empty packet of popcorn that I bought last year at a fruit and veg stand—pleased then to find a snack I love at home but which is not part of typical Irish fare.  It seems a few other artists have enjoyed its contents in the interval since I left it there in November, 2013. These small, quirky signs of my former presence make me smile.

And so I am back in a place that is a kind of home for me.  Tomorrow I’ll set up my studio, take a walk on the beach if it isn’t pouring.  Or, in between the times when it will be pouring, which is to be expected.

For months I’ve thought about being back here, sometimes as a brief flash, other times with outright yearning.  I’ve been conjuring up memories and sensory impressions all year in my paintings and works on paper—of walking on the bog and along the coast, the rough textures of rock and lichen, the traces of ancient people on the landscape, the wild surf.  As well, I have revisited memories of life here, the peace of days focused on my work, the friendliness of the people in the village, the simplicity of having no outside demands, the walks home in the dark evening, stopping at the little grocery for dinner food, the occasional night at the pub with others from Ballinglen.

On this, my first night of this year’s stay, I’m feeling impatient to dive into these experiences again and eager for whatever will be new.  But I’m also remembering that this is a place that unfolds in subtle ways, and fully coming back will take a little time.  My deep feelings for this part of Mayo evolved over the whole six weeks I spent here in 2013--as one experience led to another, my work found direction,  insights re-enforced one another, and the people I met became better known to me.  Even the landscape and seascape, as dramatic as they are, did not fully impact me all at once—instead, each time I went out walking I took in more.

Tonight as I listen to the Irish flute, sip my wine and watch the fire, I'm thinking I want to take things slow and easy.  It’s challenging to shift out of the intense pace of life at home, where I work constantly and have many responsibilities of home and family. Here, I can simply sit and do nothing but experience the moment...rediscover the quiet inside in which my experiences here will fully resonate.
 
Thursday, October 09, 2014
  off to ireland


In a few days, I return to Ireland for my fourth stay in as many years. This year, as I did in 2013, I will be an artist in residence at Ballinglen Arts Foundation in County Mayo. Each time I return, it feels more and more like a place in which my soul is at home.

This is a quick post, as I have so much to do before I leave. But I'd like to share this blessing by the Irish writer and philosopher John O'Donohue, called For the Traveler. In it, O'Donohue speaks about the kind of travel that opens a channel between inner as outward experience, that involves intention, intuition and attention, and it brings to mind so many of my experiences in Ireland so far.

I'll be posting more soon from the other side of the big pond!



For the Traveler
Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.

When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:

How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening in conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
You needed
To illuminate
Your way.

When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.

May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.

 

       www.rebeccacrowell.com




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