Monday, 29 September 2014

Travelling to the Otherworld

Colm and painting
Yesterday we visited Colm and his family to deliver the painting and our journey took us through Autumn countryside, past harvested fields watched over by crows, through a landscape of valleys
and blue green mountains.

Listening to Colm's music I am often transported away from my mundane world to to a timeless place alive with ancient magic and it was this journey that I hoped to capture in my painting, along with the rich Irish musical tradition relating to the Otherworld.
The oral folklore of Ireland contains many tales of musical gifts and tunes given to mortal fiddle players by the Sí, the fairy folk.
Examples include Michael and Jim Coleman of Sligo, John Mhóisaí Mac Fhionnlaoich,
Junior Crehan of Clare and Néillidh Boyle who was 'taken' and learned to play fairy music through
his contact with the Otherworld.

Occasionally the instrument itself is enchanted and elsewhere songs convey hidden lore relating to the good folk.
This contact between people and the Sí often occurs at special places such as a Fairy Fort, a mound which contains an entrance to the Otherworld,

Detail of Fairy Fort from Colm's painting

or near a Lone Bush, usually a whitethorn, which is understood to be a meeting place for the Sí.

Detail of Lone Bush from Colm's painting

Supernatural animals also abound in folklore especially the hare which was thought to travel between the worlds and was believed to be the Cailleach herself in animal form.
Appropriately for this time of year there are many harvest customs which relate to the Irish hare
and in the north of the island the last sheaf  to be cut was often named the "hare".

Detail of Hare from Colm's painting

And as Colm explains on his CD:

"The phrase "The Hare's Corner" comes from the ancient Irish Custom of at harvest time leaving a corner of a field uncut as a refuge for the Hare to escape to.
I first heard my father Liam, mention the phrase in a conversation we had about the famous writer
and Irish language activist Máirtín Ó Cadhain (O'Kyne).
Ó Cadhain identified the 'Gaeltachtaí' or 'Irish speaking regions' as being like the Hare's Corner of
the Island of Ireland- that had but a temporary reprieve from the reaper's blade.
I was captivated by the metaphor of the "Hare's Corner"...
It represents for me the wild and mysterious source of the many rivers of music and imagination.
The music here on this record are the strange gifts I returned with from my many walks in the long grass!"

Further information can be found in this wonderful book which includes two CD's -

"The Otherworld - Music & Song from Irish Tradition." Edited by Ríonach uí Ógáin and
Tom Sherlock found here and or here

Another piece of Colm's magic from The Hare's Corner

and his website

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

New painting: Colm Mac Con Iomaire

I have completed my new painting of our friend, the musician and fiddle player Colm Mac Con Iomaire.
The painting is a portrait showing how his music weaves together images, stories and mood.

Below I have included Colm's wonderful piece 'Aishling Eimear' so that you can  experience his music.

Please click on pictures to enlarge.

The finished painting: The Fiddle Player.
Art cards & prints are available to order - without wording. 

Before the 'magic' is added

Please listen and watch the video of  Colm's  'Aishling Eimear' - 'Emer's Dream':

 'Emer's Dream' is on Colm's CD The Hare’s Corner - Cúinne an Ghiorria which you can find on iTunes here
For more about Colm and his music please visit his website here

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Taking a break at the village show

I have been engrossed in a new painting, which I'll post up when it's complete, but I left the studio to take 
a break as the sun was shining. 
Over the weekend the summer temperatures returned and we enjoyed one of the pleasures of rural Irish life - a visit to our annual village show.
As usual it was a wonderful mix of art, animals, baking and harvested produce and a great time was had by all.

Two of the show's founders enjoy the craic
Leaving the village we drove across the Slieve Bloom mountains to walk and enjoy the view, in the far distance we glimpsed the Hill of Tara, Croghan Hill and the Hill of Uisneach.

I'll see you soon with the new painting!