Charcoal for mystery and depth, Knowth Ireland

IMG_1784Interior of Knowth passage grave co. Meath Ireland.
Basin Stone now found at the Newgrange visitor centre.

Again, I found this in a drafts folder so I am publishing it now. My earlier posts were about using inspiration and creating volume with charcoal. One of the most inspirational times in my life have been discovering the ancient archaeology of Ireland. I have heard it said that once the neolithic gets into your blood it never leaves. There is something about visitng these sites that is so moving. I guess it is a reverence for the work of the ancestors now preserved in stone. Obviously there is a ceremonial usage to these sites and I have always been intrigued by veneration. The dead were as much apart of life in 3000bc as were the living. Large amounts of time were invested in creating these sites to honour the dead. It was a huge commitment of labour and it often took a full generation to complete a space. Knowth had two entrances oriented to the dawn and sunset of the Equinox. The basin stones held burnt bones . They were ancient crucibles for those gone to the Sky.
To create and emphasize the carved out nature of the shape I curved the charcoal lines toward the centre.
The smudgy black and white lends mystery to the picture. It is pitch dark in these subterranean places so you can imagine the fire light of the torches on the walls . Now much of the passage makes room only for crawling until the inner chamber is reached. The inner spaces of Knowth are not open to the public but there is still much to see outside. There are standing stones, small stone circles, and the impressive site of the huge green mound can never be forgotten.

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Dance for Joy

My studio window with fired clay dancers overlooking the river

These dancers are portraits of real people. In the eighties I went to New York and was asked by a friend who is a professional dancer to come to her classes to observe. She had been a principal dancer for the Martha Graham Dance Company and was teaching at the famous Alvin Ailey’s and Julliard Dance at Lincoln center. She later founded the Jeanne Ruddy Dance Company. So I came sketchbook in hand and sat crosslegged on the floor and tried to catch the movement of the young dancers. I was used to static life drawing classes where the model holds a pose. These dancers were reaching , dipping, leaping , turning . The Graham technique employs much floor work so they were also rolling, balling up, and releasing. Arms and legs and hair went flying, swirling , whipping around. Into this I pushed my pencil and tried to stabilize one movement. I admire the Martha Graham body of work and the technique. The use of myth , the drama of passion, love, betrayal, lost in spirals and trapped in nets trying to survive the human condition on the stage is riveting. One of my favorites is “Rite of Spring”. It is tribal, virginal, sacrificial, and ends in celebration. So my small dancers leaping in a circle are frozen in their own rite of Spring.

Flowing to Source

IMG_1723Going with the flow is a popular phrase. Water is the most humble element but also the most powerful when pushed. Water seeks the lowest point. In its seeking it forms beautiful waterfalls and creates many sounds from soft gurgles to roaring cascades. This is my view every morning as the Glore River runs on its way pass the Mill and up to the Moy river and then to the Atlantic. I like to put bits of flowers of the season into its flow as a way of comunicating with the water to let it know what is happening on the banks. For centuries people have sent prayers on water .   I guess we know that the flow will take those words to a place of non-judgment and future storage in some low place on the ocean floor.

mer woman in her home on the ocean floor

mer woman in her home on the ocean floor

ocean floor