A new page, SPILL SIMMER FALTER WITHER, for the coming year…
I won’t be updating this for the foreseeable future. It makes me feel slightly sad and I just don’t want to any more. I can’t stand the way everyone is suddenly so infatuated by their tiny pocket screens. I’m not trying to begin a debate upon the merits of contemporary internet use. I just don’t like it. I like things which smell turfy and flower unexpectedly in winter and squirm when you find them sleeping amongst the fluff in your pocket.
Now with the time you might have spent reading the crap on my blog, you can go forth and plant bulbs instead.
Emily Dickinson said “November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.”
It’s suddenly damn cold, my breath is fogging in the kitchen and soon the bedroom ceiling will begin to freeze and twinkle with frost in the dead of night. This month, another vis-art review in the VAN Critique section, this time of Corinna Schroeder- vFrihling’s exhibition of etchings at the Courtyard Gallery. Also, a book review in the Winter 2012 Stinging Fly of ‘Replacement’ by Tor Ulven, who is, somewhat fitting, both Norwegian and dead.
I also miss television. I wonder are we the only household on the whole island who shunned the digital switch-over…?
This month, I’ve a review out in the Visual Artist’s Ireland Newsheet’s Critique section, of an exhibition of photographs in the Sirius Arts Centre: Infra by Richard Mosse. The show was stunningly pretty, which was an even-more-stunning contradiction of its content. Mosse wil be representing the ROI at the Venice Biennale next year, which is a good choice, in my opinion. Recently I’ve been busy with the Cork International Short Story Festival which happened during the middle of last month. I’ve also been learning how to waitress, which is what happens, kids be warned, when you chase a fine art degree with a masters in creative writing…
This taxidermy duckling is all I have to say for myself. Please scroll down to read about previous months in which I’d achieved something.
This month brings a returning fascination with the cargo ships, even though most days lately I can’t see anything beyond the shore wall, such is the mist. Some people around here place model sail ships on their front facing windowsills. It’s nice, but I like the cargo ships best, the way they lumber along with all their coloured containers stacked up like toy building blocks, I like the potential of everything inside them. I made this one from lolly sticks so it’s too tiny for the front windowsill. The dog would only squash it in a frenzy of fly-chasing.
This month I have a review of With The Animals by Noelle Revaz up on HTMLGiant, the link is below. Please do also look out for Issue 22 of Southword Journal, which is published by the Munster Literature Centre and in which I will have a review of a debut collection of short stories entitled Sort Sort of Beauty and written by Jamie O’ Connell.
So it’s summer, that season in which the rain has a slightly softer quality and it’s still bright at 9pm and you can’t quite remember why exactly. The sea won’t be gifting me much for the next couple of months so here’s a last hurray for the buoys.
In the May/June Issue of the Visual Artist’s Ireland Newsheet I have a round-up piece about the East Cork arts scene. The research threw up some interesting stuff, but most of what’s happening east of the city revolves around the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh, a space with a programme well worth watching.
In the April/May Issue of The Short Review I have a review of Things We didn’t See Coming by Steven Amsterdam. It was altogether too skittery a narrative for my liking and I think I wrote the first broadly negative review that this book has recieved so far. The link is below with the links.
These are photographs of a painting I did of the cover of The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am, which is the debut novel of Norwegian writer, Kjersti A. Skomsvold. The photo in the middle appears alongside my review of the book for HTMLGiant, a shortcut to which can be found under ‘links’ below.
This is Elephant Clack Clack, which is somewhat explained on the projects page. Also this month, my beloved car broke down and has been towed for scrap, so I’m not getting out very much at the moment, hence lots of reading, hence lots of new things on the reading page.
Bear the crush bravely, little Festy,
you lived long and served my sister and I most nobly.
This is what last week looked like – a pocketful of exceptionally small shells, presumably those of prematurely aborted crustaceans, and autumn-leaf coloured winkles – gathered from the west coast, for difference. The sand was so much cleaner there and the cockles were all weathered in strangely formulaic patterns.
Today there are new micro-reviews on the ‘reading’ page, an unpublished letter on a subject I promised to blog about last month under ‘projects’ and a goby fish unusual for its still being alive with the ‘creatures.’
Easily the most exciting thing I have to add today is a link to the American literature magazine, HTMLGiant, where I have an informal review published online. Please do stop by http://www.htmlgiant.com and have a thorough read of all the other pieces there far greater than mine, which is of an, um, bird book, brought to us by the good people at Sherkin Island Marine Station. It feels an unlikely thing to have out in the world, but no more unlikely than cows who get granted a shed-upgrade cometh springtime.
This is what last year looked like – a sequence of small building blocks coloured into patchy shades of bright and dim.
It’s been the best part of six months since I’ve added anything to this site, so I’ve a lot of filling-in to do. I’d like to write something of my experience of ‘depression’ this year, but it will take me a while to get my thoughts together, to say what I mean and not what I feel I ought to. I’d like to write something because, in the closing months of last year, I heard a handful of women speaking on such a subject in the Irish media. On the one hand, I believe that anything which attempts to penetrate the wall of silence surrounding mental ill-health is a good thing, especially in this country. On the other hand, I found myself in disagreement with too many of their received wisdom’s, most particularly with the repeated suggestion that a cocktail of brain-altering medication is the only way through.
The past six months was lost in the business of life, mostly. I find myself more strapped for cash than I’ve probably ever been before and this, somewhat unexpectedly, takes considerable time out of each day. Instead of flicking a switch for heat, there is the gathering of fuel and puffing at embers. Instead of the ding of a microwave for food, there is the digging of vegetables and catching of fish. Instead of the purchasing of gifts for Christmas, there’s been a month’s worth of painstaking handicraft. The things I have made have been made for reasons significantly less glamorous than art. Nevertheless, in days to come I hope to add to the ‘sculpture’ and ‘project’ pages, with pictures and words still awaiting their processes.
The things I have written have been far too few and unfinished. Nevertheless I have branched somewhat into the world of book reviewing – follow the link at the end of this page for the December and January issues of UK-based online journal The Short Review to read a piece I wrote on J.D. Salinger’s Nine Stories and Chattering: Stories by Louise Stern. And I hope I’ll have three or four new reviews to come in 2012 of some small, odd, illustrated and gimmick-driven short-story collections piled up on my desk at present.
Plus there’s new stuff under ‘reading’ and a trove of dead things which the high winter seas spat up under ‘creatures.’
A review I wrote of a novel by experimental author extraordinaire Blake Butler entitled There Is No Year has been published in the summer 2011 issue of The Stinging Fly. I hated, but nevertheless am glad, to have read it.
Having recently moved again – and this time far out of the way of easy access to such things – I haven’t had much chance to use the Internet. This is certainly something unusual for me and I am surprised to have found it only a little oppressive and for the most part, strangely liberating. Instead of obsessively googling medical conditions and constantly checking my emails in anticipation of the offer that’s going to change my life, I have been busying myself with matters of the physical world instead. Most of these have been horribly humdrum – cleaning and driving and visiting the bank, the parcelling of a life’s worth of accumulated objects and then its un-parcelling and redistribution across new floors and walls and furnishings. But there’s been thrilling bits too – there’s been the steady flourishing of a potted garden, the adoption of a one-eyed rescue dog. And there have been almost daily adventures to the craggy beaches of the southern coastline to discover trails untrodden, and to collect drift-junk spat onto the rocks from the ocean for the car boot and the backyard – shards of broken buoy, weathered tricycle wheels, wounded plastic action men.
I grew up close enough to the sea to know that I loved it, but far enough to aspire toward it in adulthood. Now, at last, the tide falls and rises to lap a low wall across the road right outside my windows. I always thought of the sea as a calm and constant thing, but now that I watch it night and day I realise how unfixed and restless it is – sparkling turquoise one day and white horses the next, seagulls and herons and guillemots and jumping fish, row boats and trawlers and schooners, cargo ships and cruise liners going about their slow and steady business in the harbour.
The only real kind of work for the outside world I’ve finished lately is a review of a book called There Is No Year by author extraordinaire, Blake Butler, and all going to plan this will appear in the Summer Issue of the Stinging Fly. On the ‘reading’ page I’ve added a little on other books I’ve been carrying around with me lately and on the ‘projects’ page I will add some pictures, as soon as I have anything worth looking at, of an arty thing I’ve been doing based on a homemade set of the Chinese board game ‘Mahjong’ that has been in my family some decades.
This morning I added some links to the full texts of art writings – most recently a review for Circa on a show in the NCAD gallery by an artist called Ciara McMahon. See ‘Online Art Writings’ below. The show was not very art-like but it taught me a hell of a lot about the multifarious horrors involved in the process of organ donation. Then, just yesterday and under tragic circumstances, I met a bunch of old school friends I had not seen in many years, and found out that one of them so happens to work in the field of organ donation. She goes to work in the mornings in expectation of cadavers. I find that so supremely strange, something I had never thought about. There were three last week, she said, That’s considered a busy one.
This month, I moved again. I never move terribly far, but nevertheless, I move quite often. At first, I like the newness of moving, I like the possibility. But I know even now that soon the routes I walk and the view from my writing table and the configuration of all my old things will grow stale and familiar, and so, I suppose, I will have to move again.
I’ve two articles in the current Jan/Feb issue of the Visual Artist’s Newsheet – one is about a conference that took place in the Crawford Gallery in Cork last September – on ‘the crossover between visual art and writing’- which, unfortunately, makes it sound one hell of a lot more interesting than it actually was. The other is about a big art-music-symposium project -‘Terminal Convention’- that is set to take place in the decommissioned terminal of Cork airport in March. That one really is exciting – if it lives up to potential – please do keep an eye out for it.
My world is really very small and snowy at the moment, but I like it. Sometimes solitary cows walk past. I don’t know where they are going, but I’m strangely certain they are not lost.
I was one of a number of finalists in the Aesthetica Creative Works Competition this year. My name and the title of my story, The Connemara Pony, is mentioned in the 2011 annual, but it’s just a mention, so please don’t rush out and buy it in expectation of a story. Also, I apologise to any one I might have offended by being openly skeptical about this particular achievement.
Follow the following link to the wonderful online home of Paper Visual Art Journal. There you will find an article I wrote that recently went live. It’s one of a few things that has signalled a modest return to art writing of late. Thanks to the nice people who have been in touch to compliment me on this one, I really didn’t think anybody actually read art critisism. http://papervisualart.com/?p=3794#more-3794
Ooops, didn’t make it to below event, much to my own disappointment. Was horribly iced-in, which sounds like a crumby excuse, but I live in the back-of-beyonds outside a village with a comedic name and my car is a barely roadworthy ’89 Fiesta with rust ’round the windows and no doorhandles on one side.
Please do check out http://someblindalleys.com/index.php/reading-series/ for more on this event, happening next week somewhere where I don’t know where it is exactly! Anyway, I’ll be reading a short short short story after Kevin Barry and with a group of other winning entries. The story is another of what I would describe as an ‘experimental’ one…
I have a proper story in the Winter 2010/11 Issue of The Stinging Fly. This is big news for me – published fiction – very exciting! The story is called Still Turning Slowly and it’s set in the failing petshop of a provincial town. For more about this issue, go to http://www.stingingfly.org
See the projects page for some images of a catalogue to which I contributed an ‘experimental’ story, I suppose you’d say. The catalogue was edited and really very nicely put together by Emma Dwyer and Imelda Bernard, printed on the occasion of the exhibition Preface that ran in Pallas Contemporary Projects from July 28th-August 1st. It’s a book in a box!
I’m not being very productive at the moment, which is distressing. Today I made this sculpture out of dead bumbles. Which was, um, not exactly helpful.
And I’ve moved home, yet again, and can now officially count myself as a member of the so-called ‘boomerang generation.’ But it’s lonely as hell because my little old dog is so deaf now that she never comes when I shout her. So moving home was not exactly helpful either.
And I’m so generally disenchanted with screen-based activities that I can’t even make myself get to jimmying these blogs about so they all work in proper chronology. But, what the hell, nobody ever looks at it anyway.
My most treasured possessions are a sawdust-filled bear and a mummified rat. A subtle homage to Fischli & Weiss, I like to imagine, but really just an eccentric coincidence.
There is nothing in the world quite like a virgin noticeboard. This is the second page of a work of ‘creative non-fiction’ I’ve recently enough finished. See the creatures page for more details. Yes, indeed, I am still getting artistic mileage out of my roadkill portfolio, but I’m a pupil of the J.G. Ballard school of thought..
Be faithful to your obsessions. Identify them and be faithful to them,
let them guide you like a sleepwalker.
Somebody in my house drums aimlessly on their furniture. It seeps through the floorboards and leaches my soul. And at work, at least once every shift somebody asks me where the toilet is.
But it’s summertime at last and I live in a city with a leprechaun museum and I’m drawing balloon-wielding donkies for my sister, so it’s okay. It’s okay.
I live in a flat so small that I can wake up at night and listen to my fridge hum. There are eight seperate flats in my house and we all share the same front door. This morning, when I left, there was a pretty calmness about the empty street, a fresh flush of blossom on the cherry tree… and a dead rat on the doorstep. But I didn’t mummify it, I swear. Ronny was purchased by my sister and arrived in a Quaker Oats box stuffed with newspaper. Shit I love that rat.
I apologise for not updating this blog very much of late. I’m pretty tied up with the Masters, and that means I’ve got lots of words, but not enough pictures! See the projects page and also please keep up to speed with the Leave Us Some Unreality blogsite (under links), which is for the anthology of short fiction and poetry which should, all going to plan, be in bookshops by May 12th…
It’s almost a year and a half since I posted more than a picture and a date here. Now I regret any offence caused to tiny screens and the people who excessive utilise them. I realise there is no sense in condemning the medium through which I am voicing my condemnation.
Still there‘s no point in deleting it. There are lots of things on this site that I’m not very proud of any more, that I no longer feel represented by. But I’m not interested in constructing a perfect version of myself for the purposes of the Internet. This site is a space for the things I used to do and the things I used to think about them, as well as newer things and revisions, points upon which I have changed my mind.
Now here’s a painted beach stone, the latest thing to distract me from writing.