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Who Wouldn't Want to be an Artist?

9/22/14

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Who Wouldn’t Want to be an Artist?

Isn’t it a grand life standing at an easel all day painting away without a care in the world with your beret, gown , brushes and palette . Then someone comes along and takes your paintings, sells them for lorry loads of cash, then brings you back the cash less a small percentage taken as commission. Even better still the buyers flock to your studio, don’t disturb you and leave piles of cash on the table. Great work if you can get it. I’m joking of course but it’s amazing the number of people who have this romantic notion or some variation on the theme.

It is a great life standing at an easel all day except for the times when you have to change the bed linen, do the washing, do the hoovering, sweeping, mopping, polishing, cooking, shopping, ironing, grass cutting, hedge cutting, leak fixing,exercising, eating, phoning, texting, Facebooking, Tweeting, meeting and all the other things normal people do plus all the things artists really do like writing statements, completing endless application forms for Arts Council funding, making submissions to galleries and Art Centres, visiting galleries, buying materials, researching, recording reference material and finished work etc. etc. In the months leading up to a solo exhibition the pressure intensifies. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. It really is a great career and very rewarding. How rewarding? That’s a whole other debate but I’ll leave you with one short story of how rewarding it can be.

This year I had the honour of exhibiting at the Royal Academy’s Summer exhibition in London. They have a very democratic hanging system with Academicians and ordinary artists like me sharing the same space. One of the rooms ‘The Small Weston Room’ is generally reserved for small paintings usually hung in a salon style ( very close together).
Very few of the paintings in this room are by Academicians as they tend to exhibit large for this show. On this occasion there was a small painting by Tracey Emin just to the right of mine. Mine was for sale at £450. Tracey’s was for sale at £66,000. Mine sold but Tracey’s didn’t. But before you all say Ahhhhh poor Tracey save it for a minute. In the very next room Tracey had three prints for sale in limited editions of 100. At the end of the exhibition she had sold about 70 of each print for a giveaway £375 each. That adds up to nearly £80,000. Nice one Tracey.

Who wouldn’t want to be an artist?  

 


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World Parks Day - Part 2

9/16/14

The Polo Grounds, Phoenix Park
Blog - 16th September 2014

World Parks Day Festival - Part 2

Massive turn out for the Festival on Sunday and big crowds in the park generally. Drive up the main road of the park from Parkgate Street any Sunday and find cars parked bumper to bumper both sides half way to the Phoenix monument. Last Sunday it was like this all the way to the monument. The Visitor Centre car park was even full by noon.

I’ve often wondered how many people use this fantastic resource every weekend. Apart from the usual crowds at the Zoo, the Visitor Centre, Farmleigh House, the Papal Cross, the People’s Gardens and the regular walkers, joggers and picnickers, last Sunday had the added attractions of a polo match, a vintage car rally, a football tournament organised by SARI and of course the World Parks Day Festival.

Crowds thronged the road from the monument to the Mountjoy roundabout for the Festival from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. I’m not good at estimating numbers but it was like Jones’s Road on an All Ireland final day. Chockers we’d call it in Dublin - country people would probably say it was wedged ‘Sure ye couldn’t draw a leg’. The festival was organised by the OPW who always put on a great show. Centre stage as usual was the children’s disco. Even One Direction got an airing - who’d have thought!
There was a spectacular trapeze act - swinging from the trees - left Tarzan in the hapenny place. The glamour was provided by a trio of good lookin young wans (can’t remember the name of the group) singing swing. Chatanooga Choo Choo, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boys ... that type of thing. A bit like the Andrews Sisters - not that I’d remember them but my grandfather used to tell me about them.
Then there was the face painting, the hat making and a selection of craft stalls and food vendors. I was selling my prints of the Phoenix Park and Dublin scenes and business was very good on the day. My first customer at 2 p.m.bought 5 framed prints. What surprised me was that I had never sold any of these particular five prints before - you just never know what appeals to people.

Many thanks to Terry Butler, Irene Barry and all the OPW crew. Looking forward to the next one already.

 


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World Parks Day - Sunday 14th September.

9/12/14

Tea Rooms at the Phoenix Park
This coming Sunday 14th September is World parks Day. To celebrate the event the OPW have organised a free festival from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Chesterfield Avenue (the main road through the Phoenix Park) in the section between the Phoenix Monument and Mountjoy roundabout. Similar to the Midsummer Festival held here earlier this year there will be lots of attractions - theatrical performances, comedy acts, punch and judy, children's disco, craft stalls etc. Yours truly will be there selling my Phoenix Park prints.

This section of the road will be closed to traffic but you may be able to find parking in the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre (entrance beside the Phoenix Monument).

This is a brilliant initiative by the OPW - it's not often you get a chance to entertain the kids for a whole afternoon at no cost and the entertainers are top class. So if you're looking for a great day out this Sunday come along and bring the kids. 

 


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What's So Special About Marlay Park?

9/9/14

Marlay House and Demesne
What’s so special about Marlay Park?

Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, County Dublin is one of the largest suburban parks in Dublin.
It covers approx. 300 acres and is about 2.5 miles around the boundary path. On the East and North sides it is bordered by Grange Road and by College Road and the M50 to the South. The West side borders the Three Rock Hockey/Rugby club and the Grange Golf club.

Marlay House itself was once owned by David La Touche, first Governor of the Bank of Ireland, in the 1760’s. He named the house after his wife, Elizabeth Marlay. The house was donated to the County Council in the 1970’s.

The courtyard next to the house is surrounded by old buildings converted for use as craft workshops and studios. There’s a sculptor specialising in bronze, a harp maker, a guitar maker and restorer and a gift shop. The bookbinder who occupied one of the spaces died earlier this year and this workshop now remains unoccupied. There is a question mark over the future plans for these buildings. Plans have been mooted for the construction of purpose built craft studios elsewhere in the grounds and the re-development of the courtyard buildings. There’s a farmer’s market in the courtyard every Saturday 10 - 4 with a craft market along the approach to the courtyard from the main car park. On Sundays 11-4 the market in the courtyard is a mix of craft and food stalls.

There are two large car parks, one on the North side and one on the South side. An overflow car park on the North side completed just two years ago is still inadequate to cope with the the number of visitors. So what’s the big attraction?

The big thing I have noticed during this recession is the number of people taking advantage of public resources like this one. It fits with the healthier lifestyle and there’s so many things here to amuse children.

For walkers and joggers there’s a network of pathways and woodland walks and every Saturday morning at 9.30 there is an organised 5K run over a set route which attracts hundreds of participants - old and young, serious runners and fun runners. The Wicklow Way also starts here in the North car park and zig-zags through the Dublin and Wicklow mountains ending at Clonegal, County Carlow.

There are Gaelic pitches, soccer pitches, tennis courts and a cricket ground. A par 3 golf course (closed for construction of a new club house and coffee shop) will re-open again shortly. There are 2 playgrounds, a duck pond and a dog exercise area. A miniature railway runs on a monorail at the West side of the park every Saturday.

The former head gardener’s house, now a coffee shop, adjoins the Regency style walled garden which is beautifully kept with peacocks strutting around, an aviary and an orangery which occasionally acts as an art gallery. Next to the coffee shop is a children’s climbing wall.

Marlay House is open to visitors on selected weekends during the Summer and hosts a Craft Fair in November each year.

A woodland walk follows the Little Dargle river which runs through the park. This walk has a Japenese Bridge and a couple of waterfalls but the highlight is the fairy tree. For some reason the Council have not signposted this little gem. This is no ordinary fairy tree - it’s more a work of art. It’s only half a tree about 15 feet high - the top half probably blown down in a storm- but someone has taken the trouble to build turrets and lookout towers on top and carved out windows and doorways with ornate doors and window shutters. The whole thing is very Gothic - Tim Burton would love it. Usually when I hear fairy tree I think of a bush with all sorts of rubbish and rags tied to it - just an eyesore. Perhaps this is why the Council have kept it secret but the word is spreading. Every week at least one person asks me where to find it.

Wooly Ward’s Pet Farm sets up at the back of the house on Saturdays during the Summer.

For one weekend in August every year there are free open-air movies with children’s movies in the afternoon and adult movies in the evenings. Correction: ...respectable adult movies. This year the rain came down in sheets on both days but a few hundred brave souls still sat out in their rain gear and suffered on. The things people do for a free movie!

In June/July there are a series of concerts in the park which are extremely disruptive to traders and the public alike. It’s hard enough to get some decent weather to work in but it becomes impossible during this period. The stage area and arena is a wide open space at the back of Marlay House which has to be boarded off for the duration. Capacity at the concerts is about 30,000. The problem is outside the boarded off area with marquees and portakabins popping up all over the place and with traffic diverted or restricted. The overflow car park and half the main car park is closed to the public. I’ve seen the queues along Grange Road - most people just don���t have the patience - and by the end of June most don’t even bother. The only people coming to the park are those living within walking distance and not many of these bother either with all of the restrictions in place. I’m all for concerts in Marlay Park - it’s a great venue - but this is extreme. This year we had Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, The Pixies, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and the Longitude Festival featuring Kings of Lean and Kodaline amongst others.

Anyway, rant over, things are beginning to settle down again. This is a particularly good time to visit the park with the leaves changing colour. This Sunday 14th September the National Organic Food Fair takes place in and around the house and always attracts big crowds.

The next big event is at Halloween with a spooky fancy dress woodland walk. I haven’t been to one but by all accounts this is well organised by the Council and is one of the highlights of the year in the park. The event is free but admission is by ticket only to control numbers. Last year there were people lining up all day right around the house for tickets on the weekend before the event. Unfortunately it was cancelled due to a serious storm that weekend.

I’m sure there are things I’ve left out but pay a visit sometime and see for yourself - and while you’re there drop by Blue Sky Art and say hello.  

 


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If you loves yer metals like I loves me metals

9/2/14

Pearse Museum, Rathfarnham, County Dublin
Last week was Heritage week - the week when you can visit any heritage site for free and

 get educated at the same time.

 

This year we managed to get to a few really interesting places - those places that were always

on the list but you only ever really make the effort in Heritage week.

 

A tour of Arbour Hill cemetery on Sunday 24th was a revelation. I’d been to Easter commemorations

there but never knew the whole story before.

 

Got a one day visa to cross the Liffey on Monday and headed out to the martello in Howth 

for  talk on the martellos of Dublin. That was interesting enough but the real highlight was 

the Hurdy Gurdy Radio Museum which is housed in the tower - nostalgia heaven. If you’re

interested in radios or the history of radio, wireless or otherwise, this is a real gem and well 

worth a visit. The staff there are real characters and eat, drink and sleep this stuff.

 

Tuesday was good and bad. We took a trip out to the Pearse Museum at St. Endas,

Rathfarnham (pictured here) for a talk by Liz Gilleece about her book on the siege of
the Four Courts and the beginnings of the Civil War. She was absolutely brilliant.
We came out to find the car had been boken into and Ellen’s briefcase had been stolen.
The briefcase would have been worth a lot more than was in it.
To cut a long story short, the following day I was out in Tallaght having the glass
replaced when I got a call from Rathfarnham Garda station to say the briefcase had
been handed in so I picked it up on the way back - how lucky is that? 

Nothing in the briefcase ad been touched. Hats off to the boys in blue and the good citizen 

who handed it in.

 

On Thursday night we did a walking tour of historic Dun Laoghaire with Michael O’Flaherty. 

I was teacher’s pet for the night and got to carry his old photographs - thought I knew

Dun laoghaire well but discovered I know nothing.
 

Left the big smoke behind on Sunday and went to the Battle of the Boyne site at Oldbridge,

just outside Drogheda. Great place to visit and very well run. Will definitely call here again

- probably on the next occasion that Lord Henry invites us for tea in Slane Castle which is

only a few miles up the road.

 

Anyway, back to the title of this blog. On Wednesday we were to do a tour of the ‘metals’

- the pathway alongside the railway line that was built to ferry granite from Dalkey Quarry

to Dun Laoghaire when the harbour was being built. We chickened out when the rain came.

Maybe next year. 

 


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