Time has always run away with me, eluding me, tripping me up, ticking away. I’m someone who works best when there is a deadline to meet, never give me too much time or I will over think things. In regards to how I make, the main part of the time involved is the thought process, this is what I put the most time into. People only see the finished piece not the endless sketches and scribbled notes, not the experimental samples or countless mistakes before the end result.
Time is often a major inspiration for my work. My nostalgic heart is drawn to the neglected and forgotten: old weathered things, peeling paint on barn doors, rusting red roofs, a new tree sprouting through an abandoned chimney stack – all abandoned by man but remembered by the elements, affected constantly by the passing of time and the changing seasons.
I will always hanker for times gone by and those loved ones swept away along time’s tide. Perhaps this is why the tradition of marking time is so important to me, hanging out the white cloth on the bush for Brigid on the eve of special day, throwing the mayflower on the roof for protection and blessings, painting and rolling the eggs on Easter Sunday, getting the darkest haired to carry in the coal at the stroke of new year, hanging holly in the barn to guard the animals…. Countless traditions to commemorate those gone are more important than prayers for the dead. Continuance is like a meditation and a homage to love.
Time for me is precious when your life is a juggling act of balancing a crazy busy family schedule and trying to get some creativity shoved in there somewhere too. Life is so fast paced, so instant. The phone beeps and you feel the need to reply to the text, the message, the DM, the whatsapp, the email… straight away, no matter what the time! We are constantly plugged in, reachable on demand. Sometimes its necessary to stop, gather, switch off, detach from the throws of it all. Appreciate simplicity in the tiny stuff, the elemental importance, the simple things.
‘Time well spent…’
Recently a friend offered me her cottage by the sea in Clougher Head for mid-term break. It was a super busy time with an exhibition less than a week away and unfinished work looming over me. I was so stressed and felt I couldn’t go. But I did, just myself and the two youngest and it was the best decision ever. A total detachment for a few days was the perfect remedy. The bracing sea breeze blew away the stresses and cleared my mind. We got lost in the simple things, the rock pools, beach combing for sea glass, driftwood, the crys of the gulls and cormorants and the delights of fish and chips from the dock. The colours and textures of the rusty fishing ships, weathered boats, netting and lobster pots, the greedy squabbling gulls, the slap in the face of the sudden fleeting hail storm were all an explosion upon the senses, revitalising and inspiring. Coming back to the warm, calm cottage was like a mother’s hug, securing, protecting, reassuring. What an escape!
‘Mountain time is me time…’
Switching off for me is a natural longing. My body will tell me it’s time to unplug my mind will ping pong so much it becomes impossible to make the simplest decisions and I know its time to hit the hills. A simple walk in the footsteps of my ancestors through the fields outside my door, along the same mountain tracks as those long gone before me is the best restoration for the soul. This brings me respite and inspiration in equal measure. No fancy spa days, the mountain is my ‘me time’. She puts the song back into my heart and life in my soul. Sliabh Gullion cures all ills, she reminds me that I am a woman of South Armagh, like her I am borne of granite and I will endure.