Tá tír na nÓg ar cúl an tí. Tír álainn, trína chéile
The land of eternity is in your back garden, beautiful lands they are, all woven into each other
from the irish poem Ar cúl an tí by Séan O' Ríordáin
I am an Eco- Contemplative Artist, Teacher, and Guide. I live and work in Asheville North Carolina with my husband and children. My studio is in the heart of the River Arts District in beautiful Asheville and I welcome visitors. My work is an invitation to remember, connect, love and praise life with Earth, our home. It is equally a commemoration for all we have lost.
My work is inextricably linked to the natural world and our part in it. It has evolved over the years such that it feels second nature for me to create. My own art practice is a contemplative one, where I bring into the studio or out on the paths and woods of the mountains, a considered approach. Each painting for me is an emerging of many parts becoming. I am a part, my hand, my initial inspiration, my presence and state of mind as well as the environment around me, the grounds I am standing on, the pigments in my paints, the very air I breath shaping together to bring something that never was, into being. Making Art is a meaningful expression of aliveness, a deep noticing of life, its power and creative forces within us and around us.
As an Eco Contemplative teacher and guide, I bring others into that experiencing, bringing an enlivened connection to their creative selves allowing confidence to go out to the edges of what is known, whether its a canvas, piece of watercolor paper, an Appalachian treeline or a field in Ireland. It is often there on the edge of something that something beautiful is waiting for you.
Leaving my homeland of Ireland and coming to America in 2013 brought me a keen awareness of the dislocation one can feel from the Earth beneath our feet. It was in wondering about how to acquaint myself with this new landscape that I recognized the immense value of making Art with, and in Nature and how this endeavor itself established a sense of interrelatedness and belonging. I had for years previous to this drawn the conclusion that Art making in some form was imperative to our living a fully human life. Art takes you into your heart. It has always been with us as long as we have lifted a piece of charcoal to a cave wall and perhaps long before that, an impulse to extend our creative force out of ourselves. My life and career is a practice in exploring art and life's interconnectedness.
I grew up on a farm in the fields of Clare in the West of Ireland. It was a wild start and one I understand now to have been a great privilege. I watched the world a while at grass level, playing in meadows of full spring turning to summer. Learning to ride ponies young, we took our freedom seriously and rambled far, adventuring through the landscape. Skies brimmed with songbirds in greening leafy branches. I watched the weather coming in over the trees. It's always changing in Ireland, the Atlantic sending its daily dose of new rains, winds of mist and breaks of brilliant sun amongst the most extravagant cumulus clouds. Often, skies are moving fast there so that the landscape becomes an animated quilt of greens. It was a playground, a sanctuary. We, as children, were learning our part in it foraging for hazelnuts, reaching for blackberries from the top of late summer bushes, hoisted up on my warm-hearted mother's back.
The world though is many things and far removed it can be, from this picture. A string of losses in my own life's adventures came into contrast to these early years. And the path of grief became very familiar to me.
Grieving pushed me out to different wild edges. There I came to know a greater sense of myself and what I was made of and to understand the quality of a lived life as it comes and goes. Grieving conducted my life and my art practice stirred from inside it into a full authentic living expression. It continues to grow and feels alive and enriching today.
I make oil paintings on canvas and wood, of the mountains, forests, and rivers here of Appalachia as well as in Ireland. Each summer I travel across the Atlantic back to the islands and coastlines, inland to the hills and boglands to draw and paint.
My art can be found here in Asheville and Atlanta in exhibitions and galleries, works in progress in my studio as well as in private and public collection here and internationally. I welcome commissions. I also love to illustrate books, stories, and myth. Characters and scenes from these often influence my landscapes. The beginnings and endings of seasons, days, years, and lives also emerge in my work.
I have taught Art and creative process for 20 years. I have worked with all ages and in various capacities. As a community artist, in educational institutions teaching concept development, drawing and from my own studio. Presently I offer seasonal workshops in Eco Contemplative Art entitled Encounters with Beauty. I am working with high school students in their internship programme and a studio mentorship as well as adults, in person and online.
Summer of 2019 I made my first return to Ireland as the Golden Thread tours. I brought folks home to Ireland to the lands I grew in, sharing the beauty, joy, and mystery of those places. These were, more often, quieter places off the beaten track of the tourist trail imbued with an authenticity that offer an encounter with an ancient and magical Ireland.
Most recently I graduated from the Centre for Nature, Imagination and the Natural World where I studied their Inner life of a child in nature program. I am presently a scholar at the Orphan Wisdom School of Stephen Jenkinson in Canada. Both these rich places of learning have steeped my work in layers of further understanding and fortified my calling to work close in with the adventures of the universe before us and to broaden my capacity to enhance the world around me by my shaping and teaching of Art practices. The quality of my approach has been influenced greatly by my learning in these places as well as previous practices of Buddhism, a Course in Miracles, long time meditation and my work in the French Pyrenees where I spent two years working with an archeological team exploring the legends of the Holy Grail and Mary Magdalene. A long love of history, mythology, philosophy, poetry, and storytelling imbues all areas of my endeavor. All these paths are interwoven as they are, have come from my interest in the history of our culture, civilization and my endless wondering and circling around the question of what is it to be a human.
I graduated with a BFA from the Center for Creativity and Design in Galway Ireland in 2002, so fortunate was I to have had brilliant teachers there and to have also studied at Grennan Mill Craft school, Kilkenny Ireland prior to that.
A Blessing for You from the West
May all the love of the ages be before you now
Cup your hands for
life is here, all heart.
May the grand circle of everything that was,
is, and will be
be remembered by you now
Through the trees,
by the stream
On the rolling waves in
and out again
the world is telling the stories of forever
Every generation is linking in creation
offering itself to you
Every step is surely a thread woven in.
light reveals every darkness however dim, or dreaded the hour.
Rising up from the darkest blue sea, with seaweeds swirling in
greens and golds
there is a call to you.
Hold up the palms of your hands now
with maps upon them,
Up to the skies.
Up high into the trees, to nests and moon, and sun,
for the stars reflecting in the old stone's
with drawings on
We are shown, we are shown, we are shown.