Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Booking in Advance

A quick question for you ....

If you see a show you fancy advertised at the local theatre or cinema, do you book in advance?   Or do you just leave it til the last minute in case something changes?   Perhaps you like to just turn up at the door?

Recently I've noticed a change in people's booking habits - perhaps it's all the uncertainty over Brexit here that is making people less sure of where they'll be or what they'll do (for example, the housing market has taken a big hit and that's what's being blamed) ....

But several theatres and small venues I've spoken to or been in contact with have been getting in to a real panic if there are no pre-sales 2 weeks before an event, and they are then cancelling the upcoming show.   One theatre booker told me she cancelled 5 shows in the Autumn alone because of that.  

Normally in music, in small venues at least, venues wouldn't start to panic until a few days before the event and push up their advertising for a last minute sale and then keep fingers crossed right up to the last day.  But obviously theatres are a different animal.

I would always be a very last minute buyer - probably to see how I"m feeling on the night - and maybe it's because we plan so much of our lives way way into the future that I leave our leisure events until the last minute.    But I'm going to try to make more of an effort from here on in.  

If you do like to go to see shows, try and book a wee bit earlier to give them some confidence.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Artist's Date - the F.E. McWilliams Gallery

Woman in Blast bronze sculpture by F.E.McWilliams

Morning pages have long been part of my routine - it's a habit I picked up from Julia Cameron when I first did her book The Artist's Way 20 years (or more) ago.  Write 3 pages (or 750 words or for 20 minutes) long hand every morning as a way of getting subconscious ideas down on paper and ridding your mind of the unconscious critic that resides there for all of us.   I love this practice - it's a meditation sometimes, other times a rant, often just a planning exercise or even a way of recording and processing life and slowing it down a wee bit.

Recently I've been dipping in to the book again, re-reading it and doing some of the exercises.  One of the other regular practices she advocates is the Artist's Date - a solitary playdate with your artist each week as an idea gathering, well-filling exercise and it's something I had real problems with when first doing the Artist's Way, not the outings so much as the alone time - difficult when you live with your work colleague!.

Anyway Tom had a large recording session in the house over last weekend and as we have such a tiny house the musicians ended up being spread through most of the rooms for sound separation.   So I took myself off for the day and ended up at an art gallery nearby followed by a nosey through the charity shops in the town.

I've passed signs for the F.E.McWilliams Gallery on the road from Newry to Belfast many times - it's been there for years, so I thought it about time to go and have a look.

Frederick McWilliams was one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th century, a contemporary and friend of Henry Moore and a follower of the style of Rodin.  His work is amazing and this gallery is a permanent space dedicated to his work and curated by the local art council - it also houses temporary exhibitions - the one just finishing today was Crossing Lines.

Here's a little video of a look around the garden and an interview with him when he returned to Banbridge in his later life.

There was a lot to look at in this exhibition which is being run simultaneously in galleries both north and south of the border.  The garden, cafe and craft shop are all fabulous and I will definitely go back for another look.  

In the Crossing Lines exhibition one guy did on site paintings both north and south which really looked like scribbles to me, but I really liked his description of border, in these turbulent days - Liminal Space he called it.  

This Bee Dress by Alice Maher in 1994 really shocked and disturbed me - made entirely of bees (which she said were all dead beforehand)

Bee Dress by Alice Maher
There's a speakers corner in the space which includes lots of posters and drawings both from adults and children - in fact they regularly run toddlers art sessions.  

Out in the garden there are some beautiful huge pieces - how on earth do you sculpt in bronze?   Fabulous.   

Regretably I didn't take more photos but there's a lot more on their Facebook page which is their only online presence sad to say.  

As Artist's Dates go I found it a very enjoyable and thought provoking afternoon (and the coffee was good) 

Friday, 1 February 2019

St Brigid's Day

In keeping with the traditions of Brigid's Eve, after dinner last night a crowd of us went out to hang pieces of cloth on a bush to be blessed by the fairies - an old tradition called Bratog Bhride (Brigid's Cloak).   Then in the morning you take your piece back and keep it in the house to bring you good luck, or some people believe it is a cure for headaches because it has been blessed by Brigid, the goddess of fertility and creativity. (In these parts, in Co. Monaghan, you're supposed to hang the cloth on a fairy tree, and there is a fairy fort here, but the snow, and an extra couple of glasses of wine meant we only got as far as the bush outside the door!)

We're back at Tyrone Guthrie House in Annaghmakerrig, an artist's retreat - I wrote about it here on a previous visit.   And I'll come back to it at the end of this stay.  We're both still trying to recover from that awful bug so we're not being as productive as we'd like, but nonetheless the ideas are starting to come.

For me a highlight of being here is the evening meal which everyone shares.   Around the table last night there was a ghost writer, a novelist, a poet, a theatre director and a drama writer working together on a new production, a composer of film music, a gallery owner/manager, another theatre director, a writer preparing performance pieces, a young actress working on pieces of video crossed with live performance, a traditional musician, a woman writing about cows and ourselves two, there to work on songs.   After dinner we had a round table concert of songs, poems, drama monologues, and stories, from the hilarious to the serious - the mixture of creatives of different disciplines is so nourishing.

If you'd like to read more about Brigid I wrote about her here and at the link for Bratog Bride above.

Bright blessings of the season to you and yours.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Searching for direction

Are there days when you just don't know which direction you should be going? 

 ... wandering around, back and forth, looking for pointers

And then suddenly you see the way forward - a clear direction

Nothing stopping you now

Friday, 25 January 2019

January Photo Scavenger Hunt

I'm joining in today with Hawthorn for the monthly photo scavenge hunt - a photo for a word.  It's been quite a few months since I played and today I'm having a relaxing day to clear a lingering cold  so a good chance to look over the past year's photos and find some images to fit.


During the summer we spent two glorious weeks holiday in France. 
Visiting a small town with a chateau I spotted this on the path to the entrance .... just in case you weren't sure where you were going!


One of my prized possessions - a plate from Belleek Pottery, made by my father for my christening and painted by C. Arnold.  I just love the spider details in it.  


I've finished quite a few knitting projects in the past year but this one I'm particularly proud of and actually knitted it twice for presents.   It's a technique called brioche knitting - that means it's double sided - and the pattern is from Nancy Merchant's book Leafy Brioche.  


At the old graveyard in Ballyshannon - I could have used this for metallic as well.   Again, it was the patterns that took my eye.


In the same town as the chateau I spotted these modern plant frames - aren't the shapes great?  Ignore the fact that it's covered in pigeon poo!  

My own choice

Ropes on the Carlingford Lough Ferry - I just loved the texture

So that's it from me for this month - I hope you'll take a look at some of the other people who post great photos from around the world in this challenge.   The link is here.  

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Misty mornings and songs through the night

It's a soft mizzly morning here - everything is silent and calm and there's water dripping off branches.    There's something magical for me in this sort of a day.

There's been songs running through my head all night keeping me awake so I resorted to getting up around 1 o'clock and finishing a sock before having another attempt at sleep.   We finished the singing group practice on Tuesday with Leonard Cohen's Dance Me To The End of Love and while the subject of this song is very dark, the melody is so beautiful and uplifting that it stays with me for days and my singers sing it with so much joy.

Here's a singing workshop in Sydney singing it.  Go on.   I dare you not to sing along.   I'll put the lyrics at the bottom of the page here.  (Everytime I watch this, I promise myself a ukulele for my next birthday).

I'm just heading to the pub for a meeting (it's a tough life I know lol) - a roaring fire and a cappuccino will get rid of the last of the grogginess.  Have a lovely Thursday.

OK, ready?  Here's the words... (not sure if this is exactly what they're singing in the video)

Dance Me to the End of Love

Ly ly, ly ….
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I'm gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Oh, let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Ly ly. …..

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We're both of us beneath our love, we're both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Ly, ly …..

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love

Ly, ly …. Twice

Monday, 21 January 2019


The patterns in nature fascinate me

Walking on the beach at Greencastle I spotted these little trees ... they made me smile

And this last one looked like a couple of shadow ladies getting ready to run into the water