It occurs to me that I may be the only person on the planet who is seriously interested in what I am about to impart – the sad fact is that my life has been more or less taken over with the gallery renovation since it began earlier this summer. The exciting news is that we are making progress! The walls are now plastered and almost ready to paint, just a few more days for drying. The old carpet has been removed and I believe that the new flooring is going down as I type. At last we can get a feel for what this room will look like. Well, I’m getting a feel for it in any case 😉 Continue reading
The Lavelle Gallery is delighted to open The Gallery Shop. This is a brand new venture that slots seamlessly into the existing gallery space, offering our customers a new and interesting selection of design led stationery and gift items. So far we have had a hugely positive response from our visitors and from our local customers. 99% of the products retail under €20.00 and this is no accident because as well as providing another dimension to the gallery, we want these items to be affordable to all. Continue reading →
Hugh O’Donnell at work – July 2014
We’ve had an exciting and busy few months at the Lavelle Art Gallery this Summer. Our lovely old building on Main Street Clifden has been getting a makeover and it’s well underway. Work began in July with the inimitable work ethic of Mr Hugh O’Donnell who repainted the whole building in glorious Indian Palace yellow in just over a day. The gallery has been painted this colour since the early 1980’s and it just wouldn’t be right to choose any other, in fact bright yellow is a part of our identity that we are proud to preserve. Continue reading →
I took a walk around Clifden castle at the week end with my family.
John D’Arcy (1785 -1839 ) founder of Clifden, built the castle for himself and his family while the town was being constructed. It dates from about 1818 and remained in the D’Arcy family until shortly after John died. Due to financial difficulties, it then went up for sale and became the source of a series of disputes that have lasted over a century. Today it is owned by several families which sadly means that it is not likely to be restored any time in the near future.
We walked to the castle via the Beach road, right to the end and then along the cliff until the castle came into view across the fields. An awkward approach on foot, it is nonetheless a dramatic one as you first see the building ( now a ruin ) as a kind of grey specter surrounded by fields and facing out towards the open Atlantic. The area is completely unspoiled and there is a wildness to these fields, a timelessness about them. There are cattle and some beautiful white Connemara ponies on the land so the ground is well trodden and lumpy underfoot. It is easy to imagine the castle in another time as it is such a commanding building on the very edges of this place. I decided to take my photos in black and white which I felt suited the atmosphere.
The colour one below gives a good impression of it’s situation. All the other photos are my own.
Clifden castle from the front
Here are some more photos, taken from the eastern side. I took these through the gnarled branches of the old trees. Something about these reminds me of Wuthering Heights, the ominous house in the wild moors.
More drama on the approaching path where some sheep wool has snagged in the barbed wire.
I took several photos of the Connemara ponies but unfortunately most of them blurred. This is the best of the lot – I think the sharp movement of the animal suggests wildness again and drama.
Cover image – ‘November Pool’ by Deborah Watkins
These landscapes were worked together. They are all done on 5″ x 7″ heavyweight acrylic paper. The one above is based on a view of the Twelve Bens mountain range from the Roundstone Bog Road. I’ve kept the mountains sketchy and light to make them recede a little and I’ve used lots of thick paint and ink in the foreground to describe the grasses and this large pool. I didn’t take photographs during the process – they were worked quickly and sometimes I find that stopping to take images interrupts the session too much.
I’ve called this one below ‘November Red’ – the colour of the bog has been exaggerated but the contrast between the paleness of the grasses and the peat itself is there.
‘November Red’ by Deborah Watkins
This next painting was also worked quickly – I’ve used large brushes for the foreground and smaller ones to describe the hills behind. It’s evening so the colours are all quite dark. I’ve attempted to heighten the drama with this dark cloud shape that mirrors the swirling lines of the bog.
‘November Evening’ by Deborah Watkins
A little too much colour for November? Perhaps, but is is all fading now and quickly so maybe I’m just taking stock..
Cover image Wildflowers by Caroline Conneely
( Caroline is a first year student in Clifden Community School and she was presented with a prize for this photograph by Clifden Library this September )
I recently attended a meeting in Clifden Library about ‘Biodiversity’ in our town which was co-ordinated by Clifden Tidy Towns and local environmentalist Marie Louise Heffernan. Marie Louise and I have been friends for many years so I wanted to offer my support and learn a little more about this thing called Biodiversity. So what is it you may well ask? As it turns out, it is a topic that is more than a little close to my heart because in the simplest of terms Biodiversity means our natural world and how we fit into it. I would have known it as ‘Nature Studies’ when I was in school and I remember it as a subject that was given a lot of importance.
Bog Cotton by Deborah Watkins
Sandra Shattock from the Tidy Towns began the meeting by introducing Brendan O’Malley who spoke about Biodiversity from his point of view, as a farmer working in the area. Brendan talked about recognising the importance of the natural world around us, whether it is a field or a seashore or a roadside. He spoke about the variety of wild plants and grasses on our doorstep that might be overlooked as weeds but which thrive when allowed to do so, without human interference. He also spoke about finding a balance between making a living from the land and respecting it, perhaps returning to an older kind of husbandry which is kinder to nature.
Gowlaun Lake, Clifden by Deborah Watkins
Marie Louise followed with an outline of a proposed schedule of events which will contribute to the production of a Biodiversity Plan for Clifden. The idea is that people will start to engage each other on the subject and question what can be done in our town to best preserve and maintain the natural world. In this way, the process will become an interactive one where all ideas are welcomed and considered. You can get involved by joining some of the many activities over the next few weeks. There’s something for everyone and the events are spread over mornings and evenings with talks on garden bird identification, mammal tracking and even a bat walk! You can find out more information on Marie Louise’s website at www.aster.ie
Yes! We’ve had our second dry day in a row. In a row! Great cause for celebration and excitement after the last few weeks of non stop rain. Our poor hens have been trudging around in the swamp that used to be our garden looking very bedraggled and forlorn. I can detect a spring in their step to day which is catching..
Yesterday I left the breakfast dishes in the sink I was so keen to get outside and enjoy the sun. I went to visit a friend in Moyard, a small townland nearby and I stopped on the Bog road ( above ) to take some pictures en route. It’s near the spot where I took the blurry rain shots in a recent post, just a little further along the road. Here’s some more photos – just look at that blue sky below!
I remember taking some pictures not far from here last January and the sky was a similar bright blue colour. It’s striking when you see it reflected in the water pools as you can see in these next images.
I love the blackness of these turf stacks in the next shots, I suppose due to the fact that they are sodden with water.
Just look at this next one, it’s more like black iron or lava than turf..
Here’s the clip from RTE’s ‘Nationwide’ programme that aired last month. It features my work and my studio and also the Lavelle Art Gallery here in Clifden where myself and my husband Gavin make our living.
The picture below is the view from my top window where beyond the back garden, the gorse and the telegraph poles you can see Buttermilk hill. (You can also see the new hen run – almost finished, the girls playhouse – I leave the bunting out all Winter because it adds some cheer and Jellybean our ginger cat!
Here’s a better view of the hill (below) from Clifden’s National School. I’ve looked at it from this vantage point many times in the last eight years.. it always makes me think of a sleeping giant, the curves and hollows of a turned away face, it’s nose the highest point.
In all the time I’ve lived here, I’ve never climbed to the top of the Buttermilk so I made it a project this week and I brought my camera with me. This next photo is taken about half way up. I had to watch my footing as the ground was thick with tufty grasses, gorse and heather.
Such a great view already. This northern side of town has shrunk and seems to nestle cosily in the hills and mountains beyond. There’s colour among the russet grasses too and when I look closely, I spot some purple flowers and a brilliant red leafed plant.
At last the ‘nose’ of the hill was within reach..
When I got to the top, a plain of land was unveiled ahead and the lakes that provide our house with water.
The view along the Wesport Road and beyond was wonderful – St. Catherine’s nursing home with its long narrow avenue to the left and the Spire of St.Joseph’s church off to the right. I could pick out my own house and the bright green GAA pitch beyond it. The mountains looked magnificent, their peaks covered in mist and I had the feeling that they were closer at this vantage point even though this is a relatively small hill.
One last picture looking further north – more clouds in this one and the curling line of Streamstown bay in the far distance.
I was tempted to keep walking but my time was limited so I made a promise to myself to return in the near future.
I booked a holiday earlier this year when the Autumn seemed like a very long time away. It’s been a long and full Summer and now that the month of October is almost here, I’m ready for a break and a change of scene! I won’t be posting while I’m away so you’ll hear from me again, revived and refreshed on Monday October 8th.
I’ll leave you with a song from The Dubliners who played here last week for the Clifden Arts festival. This one’s a favourite of mine and I think the perfect blend of writing and melody, with words by Patrick Kavanagh and music from the traditional song ‘The Dawning of the Day‘. As the story goes, the song was born when Luke Kelly of the Dubliners met Kavanagh in a pub in Dublin and it was agreed that Raglan Road should be sung as a ballad.
On Raglan Road
On Raglan Road on an Autumn day I met her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare that I might one day rue;
I saw the danger, yet I walked along the enchanted way,
And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.
On Grafton Street in November we tripped lightly along the ledge
Of the deep ravine where can be seen the worth of passion’s
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts and I not making hay –
O I loved too much and by such, by such, is happiness thrown
I gave her gifts of the mind, I gave her the secret sign that’s known
To the artists who have known the true gods of sound and stone
And words and tint. I did not stint for I gave her poems to say
With her own name there and her own dark hair like clouds over
fields of May.
On a quiet street where old ghosts meet I see her walking now
Away from me so hurriedly my reason must allow
That I had wooed not as I should a creature made of clay –
When the angel woos the clay he’d lose his wings at the dawn of
Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967)
Cover image taken from a thrifty mrs.