Trailblaze – "We Need to Talk about Ireland" Event St. Paddy's Day 2014

Just sent this brochure to print and very excited about tuning into RTE player on Paddy's Day to watch the event live. Cover image by Brendan Canty at Feel Good Lost.


What I learnt from a Panel Discussion on Creative Entrepreneurship – Quarter @ TDC – Makeshift Ensemble at the Triskel, Cork.

Saturday afternoon Makeshift Ensemble and Theatre Development Centre (TDC) held "Quarter@TDC 1214" a day of creative events at the the Triskel Cork. It kicked off with a panel discussion on creative entrepreneurship. 

Lovely tea and cakes were laid on and a hanging installation by Pauline Gibbons definitely warmed the tone of the space. Eszter Nemethi, hostess of Makeshift Ensemble began by introducing the panel:

Colm O'Herlihy – Starter of the Mountain Dew festival Macroom (Coming to Cork this year)
Pat Kiernan – Artistic Director and founder of theatre company Corca Dorca
Emer Ní Chíobháin Sample Studios, Cork
Dave Calnan founder of the all-ages venue, The Kino
Rhona Flynn – Founder Cork Community Printshop

I was happy to feel a sense of a excitement about stuff happening in Cork. Spaces around city have become available to use. "Cork is amazing right now." (Colm). 

Question "What was the initial motivation for what you have done?" 
It seemed to be a general case of necessity after leaving college ... Colm spoke of organically starting off the Mountain Dew festival with his friends... Pat and Aoife needed a way to keep doing what they wanted to do by setting up collaborative resources ... Dave saw a lack of a venue for under-age music fans. Rhona is thinking strategically to maintain the long term sustainability of her own livelihood and practice. 

Much of the debate centred around making a living, the choices and issues around that.  The current options for practising artists are:

#1. Go on the the dole
PRO: no compromise to your work.
CON: you can't be seen to be in business or do commercial work without getting cut-off. Your long hours are not valued. 

#2. Get Funding :
PRO: an income.
CON:  you are vulnerable to changes in funding structures reactions of funding bodies and politicians to the work, you may have to change the work to maintain funding eligibility.

#3. Commercialise your work : PRO sell the work to get an income.
CON: adaptation or compromise of work.

#4. Teach / work a regular job : PRO: an income,
CON: some qualification requirements. Job scarcity. Current embargo in public sector. 

Funding is a generally accepted option but as Pat Kiernan said there is always only a certain amount and a far greater demand. 

Rhona asserted her support for funding but asked about long term sustainability – if someone is planning a family, house, school runs (a life)… how can you plan or depend on funding for that? 

Working for free – 14 to 16 hrs a day, there is no value on your time. You have to get paid. Self subsidisation is a false economy... People can't maintain that. There is a belief that the dole is an alternative arts council. A wage for artists? – Get to work!!!

How can you maintain an independent practice without compromising the work and making a living?

Option #5 – Be a creative entrepreneur :
PRO: long-term financial sustainability and producing work on your own terms.
CON: no guide book to hand, new terrain, requires diversifying your skills requires taking responsibility and risks. Hard work. 

Question: "So what is creative entrepreneurship?"

Dave Calnan's succinct response was: "Making stuff happen"

The panel agreed that we all need to move away from preconceptions of what an entrepreneur is (business suits briefcases, wheeling and dealing)…. It's more about sharing resources and setting up businesses using our artistic creative skills and ideas. Colm mentioned that this requires "diversification" of work and skills. 

Collaboration is the new way to work rather than competition of old. By building a network of mutual support we can create opportunities for each other. There is benefit of being in a group. The word "ecology" was mentioned which seemed to sum that up nicely.

The result is a cultivation of independence of your own work and empowering others to do the same. Rhona called for a responsibility for our ourselves, our futures and the sustainability of our practices.

Some advice:

Get off the dole:
Apply for the Back to work scheme and do a FÁS start your own business course. Check out the Workspace scheme from the arts council. 

Change the system
Petition politicians for legislative change. Check out the National Campaign for the Arts - the dole and artists practice.

Be clear about your aim
Rhona urged the room: paraphrasing her: "You have to be so so clear about what you want - to get things done especially through the hard times. Have a clear focus for what you want to get out of it. One of the things that stops people from taking action is that their aims are too general and not specific enough."

See the bigger picture
Create things to give back - provide things to make the things. Different kinds of audiences can have different finding streams. Question and brainstorm the potential and possibilities of your project.

I asked the crowd to define the value and worth of their work. Communicate to those outside of your knowledge circle. Widen the demand for the work by selling and persuading people on the value for them. 

Aoife from Artlink had the final word: Go beyond your own concerns and ask what you can do for others by listening to what is needed. 

Question "What stops people from doing this?" 
I didn't take notes for that … if you were there too maybe you could help fill in the rest? 

So afterwards a few of us camped at the roundy table in Gulp'd, talked art inspiration and invented ideas for schemes and dreams.

(Quarter is a tri-monthly mini arts festival by Makeshift Ensemble. The next event is on 03/05/14 @TDCcork  facebook.com/quartercork)

Leave a comment on what / how you heard this! It would be great to add further links to resources mentioned. 


The dominant story of our time: FS Michaels and Monoculture

I've often wondered what people will see of our time when they look back through the lens of history. Like how we view the madness of religious orthodoxy pre enlightenment, or the conservatism of the 1950s etc etc. I haven't really been able to get to an essence of the zeitgeist of this time, until now. This book has blown me away. It exposes the values that dominate our assumptions and world-view in vividly direct and informed language.


Irish Folk Furniture

Loving this piece directed and filmed by Tony Donoghue with a camera bought on eBay for €150. It's so sweet that I felt all glowy and warm watching it.


Lonely and The Moose: Co-creation of a limited edition CD package

Well I heard Lonely and The Moose at one of their 'Beatroot' sessions and just thought they rocked. We started chatting over–yes–roasted beatroot another day. Tessa and Liz had an idea for their dream CD which would be a precious box holding a bunch of their transatlantic letters to each other. I really liked that and thought of a plan to make a mini-box package as a limited edition run. It would be cheap and cheerful, full of photos, lyrics, memories and teasers for the long run CD. We would all make it together in a 'production frenzy' on the grounds of the stunning Glebe Gardens where Tessa cooks. I think a bonus is that it's flat-packable too: so the girls took a bunch over to the States and assembled them on the road. IKEA-packaging.
Lonely and the Moose
Glebe Gardens and Cafe

Snail trail: the track of a journey

How long did this snail (or slug, let's not presume anything here) take to travel across the step, make the ingenious loop and somehow manage to leave the building? Answers in a tweet please! @orlaghob

Binding visual research: a book art workshop in Cork Printmakers

I often wonder what to do with random bits of research and sketchbook bits when finished a set of prints. These are a couple of pamphlets I made playing with different scales and folds, and a Dosados book using a sailing map for the cover. (Part of a workshop with the book artist Andrew Kelly at Cork Printmakers)

Swell Surf School Website

The team at Swell Surf School asked me to redesign their site this year. Collaborating with them was a demonstration of how actually great surf people are; so laid back and lovely. Inch beach in East Cork is the perfect place for learners as it has no mad crazy danger zones. It's beautiful as well. Petra Stone helped with thoroughly customising the Wordpress theme. I had fun creating a surfy vibe.


"Leak" - HardbackHenid's tribute to Cornelius and John Cage

The rain doesn't end this week! "Now how can I get some different sounds from this unexpected drop intruding into my room?" It's a rainy June day and cabin fever demands a little play."Totally arty like!"

ANd this is just the rain falling on the roof; lovely!


Farewell to the Julia – Cork's lost passenger ferry

Running along the docks this morning I was caught up in the City Marathon to my own bemusement, and glanced across at the empty stretch of water where Julia used to sit. She had been a friendly presence in the port of Cork for the last couple of years. High and unmissable, you would catch glimpses of her from various parts of town. Initially she was busy between here and France and back again. But economics intervened and she was left redundant to sit indefinitely in the port until the sad day she turned round and left altogether: April 28th, 2012. Apparently she's servicing the Dutch oil rigs off the North Sea now.
Below is a riston print I did in the printmakers' on Wandesford Quay in 2010, and the next is sunset over the port and train station taken from my house only days before the departure. You can see the empty Elysium building just to her left, monument to the heydaze of the Celtic tiger, and the old R&H Hall building a little left of that again.

A City in Macro – Petra Stone

These were are all taken a few years ago by Petra Stone on her analogue camera – around Cork city.

Letters Found in the Old House

Some drawings I did of letters found from the 1950s and 1970s.


Swimming sessions - illustration as a personal certificate of achievement for incremental but satisfying improvement

My new year's resolution for 2012 was to set a small, attainable, achievable and measurable goal for myself each month. Actually, each lunar month, as thats somehow more cyclic, and I can watch the month passing in a satisfyingly graphic passage of time. Anyhow, the last month (#3) was to swim 2km. Now, I know all you swimming people think: yeah, 'thats a fair enough distance to do in one go', but I, not very comfortable in water, decided to swim it over the course of the entire month. Very humble, (but measurable!) So I sputtered and splattered my way, and improved modestly, doing 2.6 in the end.So here's my personal achievement certificate, a drawing done last night.... a layer of just line and some water-based inks. Tried drawing on the iPad this evening in the pub but can't seem to get the sense of it yet... have a great weekend now anyone reading this....


Offset 2012 - Interview with Stefan Sagmeister – and whether or not he is design's Oprah Winfrey

I'm just back from an inspiring weekend at design conference Offset, which was held at Dublin's Grand Canal Theatre. The talks are still percolating in the subconscious. Themes that were interesting for me personally seemed to be summed up in this interview. The ever-learning Stefan Sagmeister meets my first creative director Ciarán O'Gaora (zero-g). It touched on the pursuit of happiness, being a graphic designer, maintaining creative longevity, productivity and making time for personal work. Yes, thats all in there somehow. So below is what he looked like just *before* speaking to "that girl" mentioned, and just to prove that yes, I was there, you can see a terribly boring shot of everyone waiting for the interview to start... his head is behind the guy with the glasses, bun and beard, who is Ciarán.

Offset weblink


Meditation Doodles

While on retreat in Lerab Ling this summer, I took notes on meditation. Just some doodley images that came to mind during the teachings. I won't attempt to explain, as that's too much for here. Check out what meditation reallyis.com if you're interested.
Note: 'Shamatha' means 'calm-abiding'... which Sogyal Rinpoche mentioned at one point as being `a balance between spaciousness and watchful awareness'.


Tripping in Surreality – 'Art Lit Feed' on tumblr

Bouncing round the Indie Art Lit Feed and grazing on hippy tripped out universes. And then the whole tumblr rabbit-hole for that matter. These images are from there but originally: 
Chrissy Angliker (via booooooom)
Unknown (via whitemoonstone)
Follow it here @ArtLitFeed


Wild Droppings

I'm finding the winter blues can be a bit of a downer. No shots of whiskey though, but slashes of crazed colour inks cheered me up this weekend. Not particularly cool but just the tonic for the bleak greyness.

The results won't win taste awards, but the process is so much fun. Daub some water onto heavy paper in a shape you like (thank you cheap bamboo brushes). Load a syringe or dropper with your psychedelic hues and let gravity take its course. Tilt and swivel for a class of substractive colour theory. If you really get into this, you can start using alcohol inks and glues for some ferral effects.

Oh, and check out this image by Pery Burge on the new scientist site... made by firstly dropping some oil-based gold paint onto water then adding two colours of acrylic inks. Beautiful.


Dublin Contemporary 2011 – Splashy or Splishy?

Went along to this International Art Fair at the weekend. Heavy rain had finally cleared and a Sunday afternoon's ruckus of children were blotted over the first floor of Earlsfort Terrace, an abandoned university campus. The paraphrased theme is Terrible Beauty—Art, Crisis, Change: Taken from William Butler Yeats’ famous poem “Easter, 1916”... suggesting "art’s underused potential for commenting symbolically on the world’s societal, cultural and economic triumphs and ills".

Walking through, the marie-celesteness of the venue would normally be just my cup of tea, but for some reason, I found it all distracting. Maybe that's because I'm not a nostalgic Dubliner. Rather, I must be a curmudgeon and regressing to white-cube preferences. Anyhow! I kept feeling that I was in a student graduation show, because every piece had it's own dreary little room with sockets and bare-faced concrete. Some were transformed wonderfully and completely, while others weren't, it seemed to depend on something arbitrary.

Attention deficiency led to constant forgetting of the theme... so it's just as well I brought a camera, because otherwise, an unreflective impression might have been misleading.

The stuff I liked in-situ was mainly the video work because "I got it" in terms of something political-social-surreal-challenging-ish. Chen Chieh - Jen's Empire's Borders was a series of interviews with regular Taiwanese people who simply wanted to go on holiday to the States. They were required to go through humiliating interviews at the embassy to get the visa, but were rejected for no known reason. Loved Niamh O'Malley's Quarry – a projection of stoney visuals onto a black canvas... like a painting, but alive.

Alejandro Almanza Pereda – Horror Vacuii

The static spatial pieces that struck me however were the disturbing / textual / strange ones. Floating barbed wire, the terrifying hairy tit, painfully hand-rendered magazines and a giant slimey octopus...

Amanda Coogan's live piece – Spit Spit, Scrub Scrub – featuring herself and two other performers in a room dribbling onto their huge blue satin gowns – for three hours!! Really, no image could do justice to that.

Dan Perjovschi's Dublin Drawings in the Annex were probably the most communicative piece on theme for me: simple social commentary with humour. ah!

Brian Duggan's Ferriss Big Wheel model, is a replica of one in the Russia town of Pripyat which was evacuated during the Chernobyl disaster. Abandoned promises of fun and frolic... that spooky vibe.

Fernando Bryce – Comoedia, Brian Duggan – The Short Term Evacuation, Wilfred Preto, Mark Clare – Democracity

Alan Butler – Painting of a photo from a news report of a suicide at Foxconn, Shenzhen, China, 2010; painted in an oil painting factory in China

Dan Perjovschi – One of countless ditties in The Dublin Drawing

Teresa Margolles – City's Keys 

Maarten Vanden Eynde – The Earth seen from the Moon

Siobhan Gibbon – Neoplasm

Mark Cullen – Towards Superconnection, James Deutscher – Oh, na, na, what's my name? Oh, na, na, what's my name?, Dan Perjovschi – The Dublin Drawing, Installation in the medical library (Artist anyone?)

Overall, I left without that furious sinking exhaustion that happens after "Art", maybe because of the lack of text information around the place, or maybe because it was all so cosy and derelict. Hmm.

Anyone else seen it and have thoughts on this?