Boy with terrier. (Ceramic)

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Day 96.

The cocked head of a Jack Russell has a hilarious almost bewitching affect on me. To the extent that I’ve entered it into google to see if perhaps others are similarly entranced. To my surprise and further amusement the yield returned to me by request was multitudinous.

The tilt of the head the angle and the way the ears sit up it just gets to me. I freaking love it!

We had a few Jack Russells growing up. I have magical memories of them all. One as a tiny pup tucked inside my dad’s jacket on the bike out in Skerries. They agreed with us Jack Russells. They understood the family ways and rolled right in giving as good as they got.

Podge was a stalwart. A bright spark too. Hearing the reports about a serial killer in Milwaukee on the news signalled it was time for his evening stroll. He’d start wagging and looking up excitedly for  his lead as he did when we called walkies to him and who were we to refuse.

Most of all I loved the experience of coming home from school each day, getting off the number thirty at the entrance to Baymount Park and seeing him fly out the gate darting  rapidly dart down to meet me his back leg out a fetching idiosyncrasy that only added to the delightful welcome.

Mutti und Kind (Ceramic)

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Day 76.

My mother and and chick penguin in glazed ceramic.

The inspiration for this piece came from a photograph which I then made a drawing of. I was struck by the tenderness of the relationship between the pair. Making the drawing first helped me to get a sense of what I wanted to evoke in sculpting the birds.

The formation lended itself well to working in clay as the simple forms are free standing due to their being larger at the base and so also hollowed out easily. The glazing was experimental as I had really no idea what the colours I was using would turn out like. I was most surprised and pleased at how well the finished fired colours worked.

The chick with his head back under the mother’s beak is so touching. The innocence and trust of the young and the stoic determination of the mature adult female to protect and nurture her chick is absolute.

My chick is larger than I intended. He is more adolescent in size but he is a baby.

We’re not lonely (pencil and felt pen)

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Day 37.

Besides lounging about on the Malagueta beach I spent a fair few hours of my time in Malaga at the wonderful Centre for Contemporary Art.  It is a truly marvellous facility hosting an excellent permanent collection of work. I particularly liked many of the photographic installations. And get this people, it is free to visit.

I also got to see a terrific visiting exhibition by renowned Russian performance artist Maria Abramovich. Largely autobiographical in subject matter the show featured challenging material a series of violent images of the artist inflicting pain on herself were that were taken from an earlier performance work. in contrast to these I recall lying on a massage type bed that had a large crystal below it  wearing  headphones as part of a sensory deprivation installation. It was a surprisingly calming and experience.

The space is very attractive. A large rectangular space subdivided  loosely into sections creating a natural flow to the visitors experience. The vast white bunker provides a perfect backdrop to an eclectic collection of mid to late twentieth century featuring both spanish and INternational artists.  A vast range of stimulating works ranging from the Kitsch to the political. Very experiential collection featuring large scale sculptures, musical installations and video works that provoke both mind and body.

The drawing I have included today was done in the lovely cafe on a sunday afternoon. There was a poster featuring the scene and I was much charmed and moved by it. It struck me as incredibly peaceful and spoke to me of the purity and innocence of animals.

The exquisite egoless creatures living out their lives guilelessly and in perfect simplicity. It describes how harmonious nature is.

There is a sense of intimacy and togetherness in the image. Alone in the stillness of the night. To me the atmosphere of silence and the water reflect  a sacred quality to the act of coupling. It is a touching depiction of nature and it makes me smile.

Blue Cat (Ceramic)

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Day 29.

This fella is an example of the traditional craft of hand built ceramics.

The body is a simple pot made using the coil technique. A very basic method for making pots or bowls in clay by hand. First I cut out a disc for the base. Next I  rolled out numerous coils of clay in roughly the same length getting  larger towards the bottom and shorter at the neck to create the shape. The coils are stacked roughly one above the other and secured together by cross hatching both sides of the join and using  slip, a mixture of wet clay as a seal.

When all the coils had been added and sealed I smoothed the surface to hide the coils and made the decorative swirls also using the coil technique. I texturised the body with tiny holes before adding the decorative swirls. Cross hatching was again used to apply them to the body.

The head involved careful measuring to ensure it fit securely inside the neck opening. I built it by modelling a ball shape first and then moulded it into into a cat face all the while making sure that the neck would fit comfortably inside the opening at the top. I drew on the features and cut out the eyes when the clay was semi hardened. This is similar to making a pumpkin for halloween. Cat features were then added; puffy cheeks, heart- shaped nose and some lines drawn on for whiskers.

The body and head were fired in the kiln and then fired again once glazed.

I choose a distinctive blue and I think he wears it so well.

Dovetail (Pastel)

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Day 22.

Henri Rousseau the French painter painted wild jungle scenes and tropical environments despite never having visited such places. He studied animals in zoos and from books and then created these incredibly strange and delightful tableaus. His vision was unique and his determination and passion to his art is legendary.

For years he was mocked an ridiculed. His style was deemed childish ridiculous and was completely at odds with his contemporaries.

I admire the boldness of his incredibly imaginative childlike at at times mystical paintings. He evokes moods beautifully. The scenes he painted transcend the familiar world. He transports the viewer far away with his dreamlike scenarios.

My imagination is host to a  carnival of animals too. It is through painting and drawing that I discovered how great an affinity I have with living creatures. It brings me peace and I find I somehow get inside the skin of an animal when I draw, paint or sculpt one. I empathise and connect with my fellow earth inhabitants by doing so and it grounds me.

This pastel is full of harmony between bird an beast. The harmonious colours also add to the sense of unhurried ease in this garden of plenty. There is a thoughtfulness to the image it lies I think in the fact that the dove is turned away and in the elephant’s poise. The relationship is not a trivial one.

It is a curious business examining ones past efforts.