30 May, 2010 at 10:06 pm (art, blue-eyed crow, life, local, work) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

What a great weekend – it was all about the water. Yesterday I floated for three hours in a friend’s pool while we talked – so unbelievably relaxing. Today I breathed salt air and listened to the sound of the surf, and this evening I’m working on this piece with colours from the waves.


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8 May, 2010 at 8:30 pm (art, books, friends, life, local) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I just finished with the flame-thrower and am waiting for the encaustic to warm up again so that I can pour yet another layer on to the piece I’m working on, while I wait I thought I’d post what Ron Black, who takes great nature photos, just sent me – pictures of our brand new pond, it’s just a baby, less than a year old.

Standing next to this pond, a small cone-shaped hill lurks in the trees to the south-west, there are acres of forest on all sides and unless a small plane flies over head you can’t see anything man-made here, even the part of the trail that is visible was made by animals. It is also the quietest part of the property.

Sometimes, standing there, I think about how much industrialization has changed the sounds we hear almost every moment of the day, even in the quiet of the night I can hear human sounds I couldn’t hear over the noise of the day – vehicles on a distant road, a train on tracks eight miles off.

I love human sounds, I live in more than one place and where I sit writing this now I can hear my old clock ticking, the neighbours to the east singing prayers, and the girls to the south happily shooting hoops. But just as looking at the ordered chaos of nature is somehow calming and energizing at the same time, the layers of sound around this pond make it hard to walk away. The soft natural sounds (when there are no tractors growling downstream) are meditative and somehow invite further listening.

As a kid I always wondered why sounds can affect the mind and emotions so much, why can music make us feel triumphant or despondent? I was reading an article about preserving areas of natural sounds, and some book reviews about silence (also this) recently, and, predictably, I thought about noise a lot when I stayed in this Buddhist monastery for a while, but this Radiolab show is my favourite exploration of sound. The range it covers in one hour is incredible, and the part where they talk about why there were angry riots when Stravinsky’s ‘Rites of Spring’ was first performed but adoration when it was performed a year later is amazing. I haven’t been able to embed the program for some reason, but here is another link, there are three parts (‘Behaves so Strangely’, ‘Sound as Touch’, and ‘Musical DNA’), they are each fantastic.

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15 kilos

3 September, 2009 at 8:28 pm (life, local, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )


No art today because I am travelling, all packed to Ryan Air’s precise requirements.  These are photographs I took during a drive with my sister the other day, all things we won’t see for a while.  The farmer who sold us honey that day insisted that we come down to pick the tomatoes with him so that we could appreciate the layout of his farm.  The tomatoes were amazing with some herbs we picked and chevre on bread.


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30 August, 2009 at 9:37 pm (art, life, local) (, , , )


The other day a group of us went picnicking by the river hidden in all that foliage.   The house with the green shutters is abandoned, but so desirable – it has a view, beyond the garden, of both the ruins of the castle and the mountains off in the distance.  The part of the castle most visible from there is the part blown up by dynamite, part of a standing skeleton.

Later, I bought a lovely sketch of the church in our neighbouring town from an artist there who has an upcoming show of paintings of local architecture.  The sketch is charming, very lively, making me think again that it’s wrong that drawings get so little respect.

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23 August, 2009 at 3:17 pm (life, local) (, , , , , , )


These are views of the town today, local products day, but I spent my food money for the next few weeks on these streets yesterday at the vide-grenier (flea market) on bits for assemblages, so I enjoy the fragrance of the food only.  The live music and dancing last night had everyone out late after our street dinner party (good company, delicious food).


This is a big part of today.  The horse and rider on the course did some amazing manoeuvres, the blond with the forelock is a total sweetie.


Besides hundreds of horses, ponies, and burros there are traditional woodworkers, blacksmiths, and a small herd of sheep to be shorn.  It’s time for me to head back out, there is a whole section of town I didn’t get to this morning with fowl, rabbits, pottery, and more food, of course.  Then tonight is a concert of Andean music.


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19 August, 2009 at 2:23 pm (life, local) (, )

window2 It is hot!  A good reason to take a break and walk along where the horses will be during the market this weekend.l'ecole2

I will not be actually buying a horse (this week anyway), but will be taking photos for a piece I am working on.  The winds have started to blow down from the hills so the temperatures should be cooler by then.

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18 August, 2009 at 2:11 am (life, local) (, )


This is the view I should have been looking out on today as I worked…but did not.  It is the fourth and last day of the village festival, even tonight people only started showing up around 11-ish when the band got going, it will taper off about 4am, thus the reduced daytime productivity.  I did notice the pétanque balls were clinking all day (it is such a satisfying sound somehow), apparently unaffected by the late nights.

I have little experience with village festivals in any country, but to me the crowd here looks far more urban than party-goers in les Etats-Unis outside of the big cities NY, LA, SF, Boston & Miami, and the range of ages on the dance floor is much wider.  The eight-year-old daughter of my neighbour began the evening at 9:30 on the bumper cars and was dancing with no sign of slowing down at midnight.

Next weekend is the vide-grenier (flea market) and horse sale, I don’t want to eat this week so that I can buy more bits for assemblages.

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local colour

15 August, 2009 at 1:54 pm (local) (, , , , , , , , )


I love the designs of old hardware, and the variety.  Here are a few favourites from the village my mom lives in.

Mme, above left, holds open the shutters, to the right is the view up the street past my mom’s  house.

Below are some local doors, many of them have multiple locks, I love the heart-shaped one.

Apologies for the quality of the photos, the camera has been seriously uncooperative lately.


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tulip rete

7 June, 2009 at 7:15 am (ancient devices, local) (, , , , , , )


Whenever I pass by I admire a beautiful astrolabe in the clock repair shop around the corner.  There are many lovely things in the window, but I’ve always been especially fond of these instruments.  The Museo di Storia della Scienza has a great collection, and the British Musem has this – a rare ‘pocket’ version found some years back.

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8 March, 2009 at 2:35 am (art, family, friends, life, local, Uncategorized) (, , , )


What an amazing number of people can pack into a house when there is a band, eh?  Especially when there are violins, a mandolin, guitar, whistles and a bodhrán (that last is essential).   One of the violinists was 12 years old, a 78-year-old sang two solos.  Of course towards the end of the evening the songs of separation and rebel tunes came out.  Athenry was summoned, and a song that started with an Irish boy losing his leg in the American civil war ended with Bush and his Iraq war.  Predictable, but perfect.

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