Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Salon du Chat and other stories

I had heard about it, and indeed there was one during the famous Electric Picnic music event in Ireland, and there have been one in Limerick a few months ago, and I'd only heard GOOD things about it, so I decided I'd go in and check it out.

So glad I did. Salon du Chat is not French for Salon of the Cat - but you'd be forgiven for thinking it - but is a play on the concept of 'salon' and the English word 'chat', as in to talk to with another person in an informal manner, or indeed to talk to another person via an application on the Internet, only in a café situation, possibly with strangers, and with a 'menu' of topics you can choose from. It was on in the Cantine on Mallow Street in Limerick City as part of the Elemental Arts Festival.

And it was nice. I liked the 'random' aspect of it, as I was seated with two young women, one from Malaysia and the other from Poland, (and my goodness but their mastery of the English language could put anyone to shame,) and an Irish lad who turned out to be a software engineer. Neither of the two girls had been aware of what was going on, but they stayed and participated for an hour before heading off to get something to eat, and another guy joined our table. All the stuff we talked about, wow - Giant memories, Sharing is Caring, GIY, to name but a few, and of course the beauty of the conversations is that it could not but flow into other subjects and other topics.

Great fun. Can think of a few people who'd enjoy it. Will let them know about it in good time, they might want to go to it. Apparently the organisers want to hold a Salon du Chat five times every year ... :-D.

Culture Night is next Friday - what will I go see? Lots and lots going on ... we are spoiled for choice.

And further to the cataloguing of works and going through folders, I'm delighted to discover a whole rake of watercolour drawings I'd recorded, here are some from Sicily, once place I was very very sad to leave ... Here are a few of them. Enjoy.

Catania, Curious Germans (I think)

Couple On Holiday

Family Group, Palermo

Ice Cream for Lunch! Catania

In Cefalu

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Giant Grandmother in Limerick

In early December, the biggest Granny in the world visited Limerick city and walked around.

The 'Granny' was in fact a giant puppet created and executed by Royal De Luxe, a French company that specialises in creating acts for street theatre, overseen by company director and artist Jean-Luc Courcoult. The company has other giant puppets, including The Girl, The Dog, and apparently one known as The Spider - which I personally would find absolutely terrifying - as well as many other projects that are documented on the company's website.

But back to Limerick. Of course there were the begrudgers. The whingers who went on and on about how much it was costing (around a million Euro, according to Limerick City of Culture Director Mike Fitzpatrick), how the city centre would be disrupted for the weekend by streets being closed off to traffic, how local businesses would suffer, etc. However, given the publicity around the event, and the warnings to car owners in the city who would normally park their cars along the streets where Granny was due to go that the cars would be towed if they were there on the days in question, you'd want to be completely out of the loop not to be aware of what was going on. There was AMPLE WARNING, in a nutshell. And Park&Ride buses had been provided ....

In the days before the weekend, odd things started to appear in Limerick city. There were cars parked in odd places with huge iron safes embedded in them. A bus that would normally carry human passengers was seen cruising around, half full of potatoes. And odd giant footprints were spotted on the pavements .... all of which contributed to the general excitement of the weekend, so that by the time Granny arrived on the Friday, a nice buzz was building up.

In addition to the Royal De Luxe technicians, there was a team of local volunteers who helped make up the team of 'Lilliputians' to help 'Granny' get around. I see myself doing it, referring to this giant puppet as though she was a person - this was the genius in her execution and performance, she was so well made and operated, and the character developed in such a manner, that in the eyes of the people who saw her and followed her around the city, she DID become a 'person'. She travelled in her wheelchair for a time, and also got up to walk, waved and smiled at spectators, drank some whiskey (a couple of gallons apparently) and smoked a pipe, and - to the great amusement of the many small children among the crowd - stopped in the middle of the street to have a pee. Yes, that's right. To piss. Pass water. Urinate, if we must be direct about it. Yeah, she wasn't bothered. She was a giant, remember? And being a giant, she slept in the Sarsfield Barracks on this huge bed specially brought over for her ...

I loved the atmosphere in the city when I went to see her. The weather was amazing all weekend, and people were in great humour - the wonder of the Granny, the amusement at her antics, the vibe generally, it was amazing. The gardaí - or police force, to those of you not familiar with Irish institutions - were out and having a laugh with the rest of us, and did a marvellous job controlling the crowds - because there were crowds. Cafés and sandwich bars did a roaring trade, to the extent that many of them had to close in the middle of Sunday afternoon because they had run out of supplies. (I heard it on the radio the following Monday.) More than one person in my Facebook acquaintances was converted, and praised the initiative and Granny herself. And many, myself included, think that there is room for more street theatre in Limerick city, and like how Royal De Luxe gave us a taste of what's possible. And I believe the person who organised this event is Karl Wallace, in which case - wow. Your vision is justified, Mr Wallace.

I took a few shots myself, but I think that in order to fully appreciate Granny and the wonderful effect she had on Limerick city, I will refer you to the photographs taken by the various photographers for the page. I particularly like the shots of Granny on the bridges, with all the people milling around her.

What a great weekend.

Some of my own shots:

Granny was going down Roches Street in her wheelchair in Limerick city centre, and because even in her wheelchair she's so large, the Lilliputians had to help her along by making sure she didn't get caught up in cables. They used a pole to push up the cables as Granny was going under them.

The shots below give an idea of the scale. Granny herself is quite tall, and the equipment to make her move of her own accord is even taller. No cables along the quays!

Come back to Limerick soon, Granny. We miss you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Two more watercolour drawings

Now that I'm a bit more organised - see last post - I know what I haven't posted up here yes, so here are two more which date from my last trip to Paris a few years ago. 

Jokingly entitled 21st-Century Impressionism

St Michel, Paris

I really do have a treasure trove of work, although I have come across a few of them that I might possibly use to light the fire over the coming months. Waste not, want not, and all that. 

Digging is dangerous. I want to go make MORE. LOTS MORE. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Cataloguing my works

It started when I was going through watercolour drawings in a folder - I must have hundreds of the things at this stage. It occurred to me that it might be a useful exercise in provenancing works to link the actual drawings to blog posts I did about them, and then I realised I'd need to search them all out ... and as I had started to catalogue works a few months ago, I decided to add a column in the worksheet to include the date that the work in question was blogged.

Holy moly. And here's a whole new kind of clutter.

I discovered that I'd blogged some works 3 or even 4 times, and others not at all. Great, I'm thinking. It means I've lots of pieces I have yet to share with you all. But bummer if I've shared some a tad too many times. However, it only highlights the usefulness of cataloguing one's work. It also means I'll be taking a day to scan/photograph and upload soon again.

And did I mention that I also wanted to note the folder I have filed the digital files in on my computer on the back of the works in question? In my own shorthand, of course. That's just as much fun, and will also have to be included in the catalogue file.

It's like I really REALLY want to do this before I start uploading the next batch.

Sometimes I think it would be SO NICE to have an art elf to do all this stuff for me, phone galleries to arrange viewings/visits/exhibitions, draft and send out PR stuff, nag me to do blogs/writing, arrange to deliver/collect artworks, and basically organise me ... but then I'd miss out on the digging through the clutter than I kind of enjoy. There's certain element of expectancy and delighted surprise always: did I really make that? What was I thinking? Did I think it was fab then? (Then it just gets reburied. Am starting to seriously run out of house.)

(Of course there's the whole other 'what was I thinking?' bit too, the bit which includes 'is there any way I can rescue this thing, or would it just be easier to burn it?' followed by 'why don't I turn this upside-down and see how that works?')

On another note, greetings to visitors from Swaziland, yours was the most recent new country to visit my blog. Am fairly sure we are running out of countries at this stage. And could I remind all you lovely people that I love getting comments, and that all comments are moderated? (And that if you're hoping to post up something dodgy in another language, I have access to Google Translate and I'm not afraid to use it?) Thank you, and have a great week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Photos! Day trips and pretty places in Ireland.

Had a bad moment, password was changed and I couldn't remember what it was. The nerves! But it's all good now.

We recently had a few more day trips away from the house, as our niece from the Netherlands came over for a visit. Her opinion of Ireland: "It's very different to the Netherlands. But beautiful." They all find the roads a bit dark at night, everyplace over there has street lighting, but Ireland is very very dark.

Our first day trip was to County Clare, to see the Cliffs of Moher, the Rock Shop and to trot over to Kilfenora to meet up with some artisan chocolatiers and sample some of their new wonderful Mayan Magic Chocolate - they had a lovely white chocolate with goji berries and a lemony aftertaste, it was truly sublime and I have a bar of it in the fridge which I am saving for a special moment .... naturally while there we got several different bars, I personally quite like the caramel, and want to try some other flavours. After Kilfenora, we returned to Lisdoonvarna and then headed through the Burren via Corkscrew Hill, a fun drive, and then meandered slowly towards home via the coast road, and stopped off for a lovely dinner in Lahinch, yummy fish and chips. No need for dessert.

The second day trip was to Dingle Peninsula, and we headed over the Connor Pass - I know I've driven it before but I couldn't remember what it was like, and once I was on it I remembered why I couldn't remember it - obviously the road is so narrow and so tightly perched on the side of the mountain, that it's a bit hellish unless you're calm, relaxed and well-rested. No matter, I let the Other Half do the driving, seeing as I'd driven us there before. It was a lovely clear day so of course the views were stunning.

Dingle town and harbour from the Connor Pass

We had a little mooch around the town - I will never get over how much it has changed since I was first there in the 1980s, but it's good to see that many of the landmarks are unchanged, although sadly the Bridge Bar, known locally as the 'Droichead' appeared to be for sale, oh well. And then we found a little place where we could get a nice healthy lunch (quiche and salad) before heading out around Slea Head and the Wild Atlantic Way - apparently the PR crowd in the tourist board have spent the past year marketing the knickers off that coastal route that goes all the way down the west coast of Ireland, from Donegal to Cork, complete with big blue zig-zag line as the logo, and you have to hand it to them, they did a good job all things considered. The Other Half wanted to follow the WAW route around Slea Head, and it took us through parts of the peninsula I'd never seen before. 

Seagull admiring the view to Iveragh

Slea Head and the Blasket Islands

As you can see from the photos, the sea was quite calm, calm enough for us to spot some dolphins swimming off Dunquin, very near where the photo on the bottom was taken. 

We headed home, stopping on the way for a bite to eat in Tralee, and found a great Chinese restaurant there called the Rose Garden, located on Rock Street, and were the only people in sitting down to eat there, but apparently it's very popular with locals for takeout. The food was very tasty, I'd recommend it. (Note to self: Trip Advisor next.)

The third day trip was to Killarney and the Gap of Dunloe. Earlier in the summer the Other Half and I went out onto Valentia Island, which was stunning, and I'd hoped to get there again, but not this year. But we did go for a lovely walk down along the gap, laughing at the tourists hoping to drive it. I drove it years ago, in poor visibility and rain. Never again. It's just about wide enough to fit a good-sized wheelbarrow, so two cars trying to pass each other out is HILARIOUS. No. I am never driving down there again. But it's wonderful for walking, cycling, and if you like horses, riding. Of course you're asked if you'd like to ride in a jaunting car, basically a horse-drawn carriage. Moll's Gap is a valley created between the mountains during the last Ice Age, and has beautiful reedy lakes and lush vegetation on the valley floor, but as you go up, the trees turn to grass and eventually it gets barer until you have rock. And it's wild. We were metres away from a doe grazing with her fawn, and they were wary of us but didn't mind us taking their pictures. Later we saw another deer grazing with some ponies in a field beside the road. 

Pony and deer grazing together, not a bother

The little river between the lakes in the Gap of Dunloe

That evening we demolished pizzas in Milano in Killarney, we'd earned them! Nothing like a good walk to work up an appetite. 

The last road trip was to the south-east, to visit my Mum and meet up with some friends. Oh yes, we had a walk, this time up to the Mahon Falls, in the Comeragh Mountains in County Waterford, which as always was a bracing walk, one which I have done on Christmas Day a couple of times. It's about a mile each way from the car park to the actual waterfall, and so many people find they want to start climbing up beside the falls to the top. I've done it myself, and on a clear day you get the most marvellous views, but we didn't on this trip. The gang of us went off to have a meal nearby, and then it was time to go home, this time along the Blackwater valley to Fermoy, and on home. Needless to say we all fell into bed and slept soundly ...