I have just returned from a two week residency at Cill Rialaig in Kerry, a village of eight cottages built from the ruins of a 1790s pre-famine village on the cliff top overlooking the Atlantic. This was an opportunity to get away from everyday life in order to focus entirely my artistic practice (although my husband Tom and friend Wendy Dison were awarded residencies at the same time). It was a chance to work in the stunning landscape, responding to it directly whilst also internalising the sensations of sea, wind, rocks, the wild rugged cliffs and beautiful sandy beaches.
Working outside presents interesting challenges; I found it physically hard work, needed to be organised in order not to leave vital tools back at the studio, alert for sudden gusts of wind capsizing the easel, even on calm days, and prepared to answer questions from interested walkers politely – even when things were going badly!
Each artist has their own cottage which is a simple living space where the work takes priority. The large floor space encouraged experimentation and one day, frustrated by an over busy mind and dominant right hand, I made a lifesize figure drawing using marks created using only my feet, mouth, arms and hair. This forms part of an exploration of the internal sensations of the body through the use of experiemental and expressive marks, and whilst apparnetly very different to my landscape work, I find the disciplines often complement and inform each other.
It was a great privilege and very productive to spend this time at Cill Rialaig. For more information about the artist residencies and the nearby Cill Rialaig arts centre, visit: https://www.facebook.com/CillRialaigArtsCentre/