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The Fundraising one!

This summer has been a busy one, mostly focusing on the arty-business end of things. I completed the Audio Portrait of the 2017 Websummit and set up an ETSY shop, and now I am launching an Indigogo Crowdfunding Campaign. And of course updating every bit of online presence – and there goes the summer!

camilla pic 

The Plan

I am extending my artist practice to include digital art, with an emphasis on audio installation. This year I am working on a complex digital art piece. It will be large enough to fill a room to create an immersive experience for the audience. I will be using a multitude of digital tools and techniques to realise the concept.

Importantly the ideas I am interested in are ones about the world we live in, with a particular concern for the delusions and illusions that keep the whole show on the road.

I believe that art has the power to open minds and foster awareness and acceptance. My motivation is to create works which will engage with some of the most pressing concerns of today.

I am combining this project with gaining a Masters of Fine Art in Digital Art at the NCAD as the two aims are totally aligned in direction and content. It also makes good sense to take advantage of the opportunities provided to be a launch pad for the next stage of my artist practice; the end of year shows in particular are noticed by curators and funders.

I have planned the development of the project to include several ‘mini’ projects along the way, each one focussing on a distinct aspect of the whole, and acting as prototype development. These represent milestones and will be presented as finished pieces over the next six months. These include the a piece at the Hearsay International Audio Festival in September,  the interim MFA show in December, and as part of the international Kuntspodium-T Tillburg Apprentice-Master series of Exhibitions in Europe during Spring 2018.

I will be researching, developing, acquiring the hardware, skills, and generating the visual references and audio material over the coming year. The more resources I have at my disposal, the better the final iteration of the concept can be. I’ll be raising what resources I can too, the usual lecturing, art workshops and art sales.

My hope is to be empowered to bring to completion and exhibition an ambitious project which will progress my artist practice propelling it to the next stage.

The completion date for the final piece is June 2018.

Updates to follow!!




Summer Audio Projects – work in progress

This is the summer of audio projects, both new and finishing off the almost completed. It is also a summer of fundraising and a sponsor hunt to support these and more.

I am currently working on three core projects, with a few more on the horizon, these are a Waterways Ireland Public Art Commission, The Websummit 2016 Audio Portrait, and a Soundwalk.

Why work on more than one at a time? Well, first of all, working a few related but different projects keeps everything fresh! And then there are practical considerations too, with a few on the go at the same time it’s just more efficient. Having different projects in different phases means never twiddling my thumbs waiting for the next bit of something to arrive.

The Websummit Audio Portrait

This came about as a result of the generous offer by Paddy Cosgrave of free tickets for women in tech to attend the Lisbon Websummit last year. Like many, I jumped at the chance, booked a cheap flight and an even cheaper hotel room – idiosyncratic to say the least – and headed off. I had in mind from the start to make a sound piece on this, and even got myself a press pass.

In the event this was a great way to experience the summit as I was really engaged directly with so may wonderful speakers who kindly gave me interviews. In fact I was the only one given an interview by Framestore’s William Sargent! I also tracked down and chatted to a wide variety of delegates including self proclaimed VCs, made lots of in-situ ambient recordings and even a few from the stages.

The edit and mixdown is a mammoth task, not least as I want to create a sense of being there, so it requires a lot of attention to detail.  This is about to be published, currently draft segments are being circulated to the interviewees. This one has just been seen by Goavega India –  Draft Segment.

The Waterways Public Art Commission

Inspired  on the sounds and experiences around the Grand Canal in Dublin this will take the form of a podcast sound walk. Anyone walking along the canal paths can listen as they stroll.

I will be out and about along the canal throughout August making field recordings and recordings of passers-by who want to tell me their canal related memories and stories. Along with archival research this will all go in the mix to create the final audio track.

This should be ready for the public to use by mid September.

The Sound Walk

A geo-location based sound walk, based on the experience of being at a lido,  one of many swimming spots to be found on the Dublin coastline, this can be listened to via smartphone.  This one is the prototype for demonstration purposes so not for general publishing just yet, but a few people will be invited to try it out by way of Beta testing as soon as it goes live.

On the horizon…

Well, one I am looking forward to in particular is my participation in the Kunstpodium-T Apprentice-Master programme this autumn. Selected last spring,  I am now working on my introduction video which gets viewed by the project to help match artists into their respective teams.  The resulting piece is included in a group show on the continent headlined by an established artist. ‘Kunstpodium T facilitates the development of the artists’ identity and cultural entrepreneurship for a new generation of artists’.  This promises to be very interesting indeed.

I have a few submissions in for Open Calls and Per Cent scheme projects – for now it’s wait and see!

Finally, I am hacking some old radios to use to create Theremin style sounds and – my current favourite pastime –stripping speaker cones from any source I can get my mitts on in preparation for a new sound piece.  (I have a slight fixation on wires).

6 August 2017

Sound Installation

This is my sound installation ‘OVER HERE’ in the Solstice Arts Centre this April as part of the ‘DETACHED’ exhibition.

This is one of my newest pieces as I begin to exhibit audio works. It is part of my MFA studies, which I have undertaken with a particular focus on digital art and sound art in particular.  I was particulairly pleased with myself on this one as I did all the wiring myself!

It uses a variety of audio sources, including recording of the voice with the help of friends in the Goethe Intitut Choir who I recorded using a Zoom Hn1 to create the multi-voice vocal elements.  These were then edited and mixed with solo voices and a Braam element, using Adobe Audition.  The installation itself consisted of 5 speakers and a sub woofer, with the audio file running thorough a 5.1 amp from a small media player. And did I mention the wire?

I am working on more sound art pieces and will post them here as they are completed.

It’s all very exciting!!!


A very busy autumn

It’s all very well being run of my feet with art deadlines – but when then do I feed the blog!! Well, the answer is never – so to make amends here is a very speedy overview of a very very mad packed six months – after the RA Summer show.

Next up was the Print Show at Newtownbarry House, in Bunclody in Wexford. This was a group show curated by Robert Lane who invited print artists established and emerging to exhibit for the whole of August.

2016-08-09_wex_23543715_I2 Clody print-show-crop invite cover

Clody and Anya of the Gallery (with collector) at the opening, which even made it into the press.

After this was the sound project for Cities and Memories, based on the London Underground. This whole project got quite a bit of attention in London. and before that on the ‘Prison Songs’ project.

 The Next Station CnM July 2016    Prison Songs

This was just sent in and there were workshops on Twine and Analogue Game designing; Twine not so much,but I can see possibilities in the other!


Then etchings had to wrapped and sent via courier to Yorkshire for the Zillah Bell exhibition; I was thrilled to be invited to this by Normal Ackroyd and even more thrilled to meet him on the night.

Invite front page 2

Just got back from this to have to get ready for the next UK exhibition, this time in the Bankside Gallery London, just around the corner from the Tate Modern. I’ve been eyeing this up for some time, so delighted to be included. Not only that, but they produced a gorgeous catalogue of the show as well.

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In both cases I was in extraordinary company, with many of the best printmakers included.

They chose the same etching too !


Tractor and Pump

Barely got my bearings on this when I was off to do a set of interviews and field recordings in Lisbon for the WebSummit. Cue lots of mixing! If I have learned one thing from this experience, it is move heaven and earth to get a press pass – it makes the whole think just so much more fun!

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Somewhere along the line I topped 2000 followers on Twitter too.

So, July the RA London Summer Show, August The Print Show in Newtownbarry House, September the Zillah Bell Gallery, Yorkshire and November the Masters exhibition in Bankside London. and that’s not including the audio works or general painting, drawing, sketching and research for the next projects.


Is it any wonder I didn’t get round to blogging??

For more on the digital pieces see here

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2016

I am delighted to have a piece selected and hanging in this well established prestigious exhibition.

Petrol Pump4web

Petrol Pump by Camilla Fanning

This exhibition has been going strong for nearly 250 years, established by Joshua Reynolds.  It has it’s roots in the ‘Ancient Academies’ of Artists which developed from the guilds of the quattrocento and renaissance era,  that were the effective union of their day, and most importantly the final arbiters of taste. The Academies by the 19th C were calling all the shots, declaring artists good or bad, in or out; the buying public followed suit. At least that is until that famous schism of the French Academy with the Impressionists.

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Over the centuries the Royal Academy has gone through phases of stagnation only to renew itself and re-establish it’s relevance. At the moment it is particularly reinvigorated with a wonderfully eclectic membership of artists working in a wide variety of genres and media. This is reflected in the selections made for the Summer Exhibition 2016.

This year for the first time ever there is an online gallery of all of the exhibition with the works available for sale.  We are all cautiously optimistic that this will have a real impact.  Here it is.    (for more information feel free to contact me directly at or leave a reply below.  See more works here.)

Varnishing Day

Well, this was a hoot! It has been a tradition from the beginning and is a day to celebrate the artists in the exhibition and indeed artists in general.  In it’s day it was a last chance for the exhibitors to see how there works looked in situ, make a fuss, or even some corrections.  These day’s it’s more of an excuse for shin-dig.

First things first, we collected our exhibitor pack and the small price list booklet.

pack invite

The artists gather in the courtyard, overseen by Sir Joshua himself, and the annual Summer Show Commission of a major sculptural work. We parade out led by a steel band and church leaders, the Academicians present at the front, but after that a general melee.

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The special service for artists was across the way at St James church and we stopped the traffic on Piccadilly to get to it!

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There was also a wonderful sermon by Revd Lindsay Meader all about how important artists are – which of course we lapped up!

Then back to Burlington House for the first view of the exhibition and a very generous reception.  We all guzzled for a while, prosecco flowing, then everyone scooted around the exhibition to find out where their work had been hung.

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I found mine (in the middle) on a choice piece of wall and in very good company!

The Application Process

These days no self respecting application process goes without a full on registration process to start with. the RA is no different . Short version – it all takes time! From the very start it is clear that this is going to be a long process and that’s that.

This is all done online, and there are a limited number of ‘slots’ available; They sell out quite quickly.

So, having registered to apply, the application then gets sent in. Joyfully this year we could send in a jpeg of the work in the first instance, thus saving a small fortune in shipping costs until we know we had at least got as far as the short list. I wish every open sub did this at the very least.

Of course we have to pay to enter, in sterling! So the cost-clock starts ticking right away. I decided in a fit of enthusiasm to do two, there was some complicated instructions to the effect that I  had to decide there and then, and no adding on afterwards, no refunds for any change of mind. So, in for a penny in for a pound – I booked the two application ‘slots’.

With hindsight it occurs to me know that it is in my best interest to send in a hard copy reproduction quality  jpeg as it is that much more likely to end up in the final catalogue if it gets that far. But that would require a level of hubris I lacked at the start of this first ever submission to the Royal Academy of London Summer Exhibition.

The selection process

We all wait for the email. The one that says if we have made it to the next round. the first submission is global with over 12000 entries, this is reduced to 4000 for the next round.  I get this far. Another email arrives to say I am now in the last and final selection of about 1000 entries. Both prints are still in the running. but I am still not certain if either will be hung. I am delighted to have got this far in the selection process!

We get an email looking for a short artist bio – just in case. a separate email for this. I sort this out. These things always take longer than you think, and the requests always happen at the most inconvenient times. I file away the memory of all of this for future use.

And now the Kafkaesque dance that is UK  VAT registration  begins. The RA requires it of every exhibiting artist. Even from ‘overseas.’  I have to register for something else first, emails and alerts fill my inbox. Finally I can apply for the VAT number itself. I scan every ID document I have and sent it off. I promise to sell something, but not a lot. As the deadline to send in this number approaches – and while I still don’t know if I am in the exhibition or not – a useful looking envelope arrives. I ignore it for a day or so, I am complacent, knowing that I have just received the much needed VAT number.  I sit down to send this in the the RA, open it, and to my alarm and horror discover it is a few more pages of application clobber! Sign this, fill in this, define the value of sales (do I look like a fortune teller?). I phone the UK VAT  Ministry. Get a helpful bod at the end. I can sign and scan it, send it in. All is not lost! cue another evening of faffing with scanners and paperwork. THIS is the real ‘life of an artist’! The bit no one sees! Finally I call to ask where to find it, am informed it’s on my online account; cue rooting for the password. I get in, search it, and can’t find it. The deadline is now 24 hours away.

I email the Royal Academy bod. I send him a copy of the announcement  that I do in fact have a VAT number, and explain that I can’t find it, but it’s only a mater of time; it will follow.

He send me back a thank you, and tells me that  it’s on the third line, and he has already done the necessary. Phew.

Paperwork. The bane of every creative life!


I see the word congratulations before anything else. One print has been accepted. The email has a longer preamble, the standard this year was very high blah blah blah. I don’t care – I have a print hanging in the Royal Academy.

They tell me the Exhibitor pack is there to picked up at reception for us overseas exhibitors. Am dying to get my mitts on it.

Now the pace picks up with a vengeance. These emails were sent on the Saturday preceding the Friday of the main event for artists – Varnishing Day. I consult a friend who has done this before, is it worth the cost and hassle of going to be there. Yes, she says, very definitely yes!! So I decide to go. I lose the will to live trawling online comparison sites looking for a cheap  – last minute – flight to London.  In summer. At an Irish bank holiday weekend. Brilliant! But my efforts pay off, and I am going!

Will I apply again?? – I’ll say! It was brilliant! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Some Reviews

The Londonist



Nine things to know about the Summer Exhibition

Making Kilkee

This is a short one – this is a slide show of the development and printing of the Carborundum print ‘Kilkee’ – as you can see it wasn’t all plain sailing!


Cill Rialaig: The Residency & Artists Retreat

Arriving to the artists residences in the erstwhile abandoned village of Cill Rialaig feels like coming to the end of a pilgrimage.  Time is left behind as the road narrows and winds at a forty five degree angle along the top of a cliff. At just the point when it seems this must have been a wrong turn the first of the cottages appears nestled behind a dry-stone wall with clear sky and sea all around. At once it is clear this is a place of calm and quiet,  the silence is palpable, even the sea is not too loud.

My first thought (after wow) is – this is going to brilliant!

IMG_0512   CR Carpark

Getting down there

I drove down. I had left myself notes on what to pack for weeks beforehand, and on the morning, of course, read the wrong list and still managed to leave something behind. But nothing vital.  I brought with me every possible item of art material I thought I might need, and for every eventuality including being rained in solid for two weeks. (It can happen!) I just put the boot down and kept going – ok, with the odd stop to tidy up a few loose ends (8 hours down; 5 home!).

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The car was stuffed to the gunnels and  I’ve developed a soft spot for motorway service stations.

Settling in

I had set off with an increasing concern that maybe I wasn’t the hermit type – well, more like a creeping certainty. I needn’t have worried, the place has got the balance right between being left in peace and not been found eaten by cats.  The caretaker is chatty and helpful too.

The Place

The cottages are lined along the old headland road, overlooking the Atlantic. It is right on the edge of Ireland. Indeed, of Europe.

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The landscape is stunning.  The scale and breadth of it is a challenge to capture  in any medium.

There are hares all over the place. This is very unusual. They are big bruisers and fearless, they run ahead and across the road at a leisurely pace, just moving on. I now understand why Barry Flanagan chose them for his sculptures, they are a real part of the landscape here.

I was getting local directions. ‘Just up there’  he said’ there’s the baby graveyard’. He pointed up the hill across the stone walled fields. ‘Where?’ I asked, squinting into the sun’. ‘Just there’ he said ‘that stone wall there, there are stone crosses and all’.


We went in search of it another day, but could find only the remains of a 6th c Oratory and Slab crosses. No sign of a burial site for unbaptized babies.  Later I did some research – that is I Googled it! – and found out that these were called Cillins. The tradition was to use to previously sanctified but abandoned sites, even old megaliths. So the Oratory is indeed a Cillin after all.

The Wheels

Act as my mobile studio, stuffed with everything I might need for a day out in-situ en plein air painting and drawing.

I check the map for likely spots and then drive around the narrow country roads keeping a look out for mad cars and great views.  I have come to think of this as location hunting, when I find a good spot I mark it on the map.

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The car is just about still moving. It is well used to rocky lanes and uneven terrain. Another dent will just fit right in, although I do try to avoid it. I am a bit afraid it is on its last legs.


If the weather is atrocious I can push back the seat and draw from inside, or I can wait out a squall and be in position when the weather breaks.

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My investigations were thorough and often till late evening. Some places I ended up were odder than others. I never did see the dinosaur footprints, but maybe they can’t be seen at high tide. And it was chilly!


I like cliffs

IMG_0578  cliff road

It takes a certain degree of stubbornness to set about drawing a cliff landscape.

First of all there is the issue of access, often requiring a bit of clambering and careful navigation of 45% sloping fields, and those were the easy ones. And of course I have to clamber back up them afterwards. And all the kit has to carried both ways.

And then there’s the continual breeze and or small gale coming off the Atlantic. Cliffs look the way they do because of being battered. Hence, said battering is aimed at anything cliff like or on a cliff – artists included. On a few occasions I had to give up as it got so wild I couldn’t keep the sketchbook flat (the pages are held open with bulldog clips –but the gusts were so strong the whole book was lifting!) but mostly I jammed myself against a big rock and carried on.

In Cill Rialaig, the best views needed afternoon light, so this influenced my schedule. No point trying to paint something obscured by too much shadow, and it took light to bring out the colours.

So, cliffs are spectacular, have the best ‘motifs’ and some of the best colours as the sea churns at the foot into deep cerulean, turquoise and viridian with shots of Prussian blue and gold, all laced with white, beside the dark edges of the rock and shadow. But they also present the greatest practical challenge of getting to them and being on the spot to paint and draw.

Did I mention I like cliffs?


I found an excellent cliff to paint just up the way from the village. It necessitated climbing over the fence steps to the Oratory and then continuing down towards the sea. following the line of the stone walls. At the end of this I perched on a rock near the edge and balanced my paints carefully, worried a gust would take the lot – and me – into the depths.

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I trundled around looking for more and found a spot in Valencia Island looking back across the bay southwards, the Skelligs in the distance, disappearing and reappearing in the sea haze like Hy-Brasil.


The view from the top of Bolus had was also quite spectacular. A huge panoramic vista of mountains, headlands, islands and sea. The scale was too much for my iPhone (I use it to take record shots to reposition the page on return visits to the same spot).


Eventually I went to see ‘The Most Beautiful Cliffs in Kerry’ – very spectacular and almost surreal. Strangely striped with bright yellow lichen. Whistling gale at the top though,  so I didn’t get much done.

Most Beautiful IMG_0825


I took out a selection of dry media and paint everyday, but in the end reverted to the usual selection of watercolour with some pencil sketching. There is a reason for this beyond familiarity. Over the years I have developed a kit and method for painting in awkward-to-get-to places, I have it all whittled down to the essentials. So, inevitably, this was what I used most.


Back at the cottage I laid out every piece of material I had brought with me, a real luxury (I am already missing the dedicated studio space) and did some follow up work from the sketches.

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In some cases, I’d had to give up because of rain or too blustery wind, and did what I always do marking them up with tone code to finish off later.

work up

As you can see I am also going for housekeeper of the year award.

As I searched around for the perfect spot I realised that large chunks of the seascape looked just like Donald Tesky paintings and prints.  The landscape down there meets you on its own terms, I could see it might be a battle to get to grips with it. And indeed it took the better part of a week of sketching and walking around for it to finally ‘click’. 

The final word

Somewhere along the line thoughts that had been gestating came together and coalesced into a final something.  A next stage. I had been wrestling with a few formal concerns and a technical issue and somehow in the two weeks I was there these got resolved, sending me onto the next level of trajectory. To say I was pleased is an understatement! I can see this having a real impact on what I do next.

The place is isolated enough that is is away from irritating distractions, but with enough people around or passing by that if you want it a chat can be had or a dinner shared.

I loved every moment of it. I am now ‘sold’ on the idea of residencies, and I can’t wait to do more  in other places.  And to go back to Cill Rialaig again.

The Skinny: Practical information

Details about the residency and applying are available on request and they have a Facebook page too. The application procedure is straight forward enough, dates are assigned about a year ahead of attendance and there is some wiggle room on the timing, although it looks like there is a positive stampede for August dates.  From what I hear on the grapevine there also seems to be a different atmosphere down there depending on the time of year. I got the impression that throughout the summer it was all very business like. Maybe people who have a very limited precious time to get a lot done.

Visiting artists leave a piece of work (or bring one with them) to donate to the fund raising efforts for the residency. Writers might leave a signed copy of their book.

WIFI is available free in the Cill Rialaig Art Centre itself. A few – though not many – local cafes and pubs have a sign up to say it’s available, but it’s not everywhere by any means. Data allowances used to create a personal hot-spot  get gobbled up pretty fast, and I also found this unstable and unreliable in the cottage. I didn’t use it much, just the occasional urgent email, but in fact, some of those didn’t get through, despite reading as sent at my end! That said, I did hear that some of the others had solid enough connections.

Location, location, location.

The retreat really is off the beaten track. Without a car you would be stranded. There really is nowhere within walking distance – and I will walk! The village is at the top of a winding hilly road, the nearest shop is back towards the Art Centre & Gallery, which is a good 30-40 minute walk each way.  This is a small garage shop with essentials and lovely soda bread. All around the area are holiday homes and even a caravan park, it seems to be catering for these.  It is not the cheapest. The local destination is Ballinskelligs beach and beyond that a small harbour.


The nearest pub –Cable O’Leary’s –  is also about 30 minutes walk away down that hill. This is the biggest pub for miles around and is where the locals go. There is music on some nights.

There is (2015) one bus to Caherciveen every Thursday and one to Killarney every month on a Tuesday. Local taxi’s can be expensive.

The nearest supermarket is in Caherciveen but this is quite a good branch of Supervalue with all the usual stock as well as few local items.  chaherciveen itself has a good selection of shops, in particular a brilliant fish shop and French Patisserie (2015). Otherwise the usual scatter of general shops, banks and trendy tourist shops. There is even a €2-Shop – which has its place in the scheme of things after all. There is no real art suppliers, Quirkes has very basic stationary, and a few school art supplies; it’s good for maps and books.

Staying there

It is a wonderful place to stay, really perfect for an retreat style artists residency, especially if you want to put your head down and work without distraction. When I was there there were a couple of cottages where the occupant never appeared. Equally, it is small enough that if people are inclined to be friendly the opportunity to bump into your neighbours is there too. The Rule is that no-one should be disturbed, and there are even signs on the doors saying as much (I did start to feel a wee bit like a rare zoo exhibit).

The Cottages

The cottages are divided into a main room, with the studio at one end, and a small kitchen and matching size bathroom. Upstairs above these is a mezzanine floor with the bed.

The kitchen has an under counter fridge with a cool box, a kettle and toaster. I even found a Cafetaire.  All the basic’s needed for self catering are there too.  The bathroom is fully tiled with a shower and a heater. Towels were provided, as is bedding.

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The main space is the height of the ceiling with excellent light, and a lot of electric sockets and artificial light as well. There is solid state central heating and where I was it was downright cosy. There is also a small wood burning stove for a bit of extra oomph (bring firelighters & matches).

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I rearranged a bit

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An easel was provided and as well as a few work tables. There was lots of space to spread out.  Each artist rearranged the interior to their own liking, which was a hoot, as each was so different!

Some of the cottages had a radio too. But if these were on, I  didn’t hear them.

The silence there was magnificent, only the occasional bleating of sheep to break it.


All About Sugarlift

Parallel to the Peripheries project there are other prints being made for various exhibitions and group shows.  One of these is an etching combined with carborumdum, and using sugarlift.

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This is a method of making a positive mark on the plate using a soluble resist (the sugarlift) which allowed to dry, then this is then covered with bitumen.  After the bitumen dries hard,  hot water is poured over the plate to dissolve the sugarlift , lifting off the bitumen, to reveal the shape. When this is finally revealed the bare copper is degreased and the aquatint is applied, creating an area of tone.

See here for a video of the process.


Peripheries 2: First Sketches & Research Trip 1

So, at last! I got down to the west of Ireland to the cliffs I was dying to get to draw!!!!! Beside myself with excitement !!!! (I don’t do ‘cool’- never have!) .

I left Dublin in driving rain and dirty traffic conditions, but when going West a bit of faith and optimism is required. The weather changes fast and out on the edges it’s got  mind of its own.

As I arrived to Kilkee the weather broke and by the time I got to the town the sun was shining. I couldn’t wait a second more and did a quick very rough sketch of the first cliff I saw – right at the edge of the Bay.  A quick watercolour which did capture the colour. (This proved to be very useful in the end!).


Packing for the trip was educational. It took a lot of organising.  I want to use the Irish trips as a dry run for more ambitious trips to Norway  and Iceland, as well as being research trips in their own right.  So I am keeping notes of what was useful. First prize goes to the Aran sweater – works hard. I also regretted not packing a few more specialist bits and bobs for cooking. Hardly matters for a couple of days but longer it might make a difference. I am assuming all the places I will be in are fairly off the beaten track, remote even.

So, first off – Kilkee.  This is a small village at the head of the Loop Head Peninsula. The village is mostly known for being a seaside resort – it is literally right beside the beach. And also as a starting point for the Loop Head routes.


Loop head is one of the underestimated landscapes of Ireland, and I am tempted to wish it stays that way – uncrowded,  quiet –  and all mine!  It has spectacular rock and cliff formations all along the headland, including breathtakingly gorgeous views of the Atlantic.

I spent the morning scouting the locations I want to return to. Settled on several points with views of sea-stacks, cliffs, caves and sea arches. Stunning. Also wild.

Kilkee 2014

I lucked out with the weather on the first day of drawing – perfect blue sky and warm, very little breeze. The water was dark rich blue. I sat on the scratchy bouncy grass on a cliff top to draw. Seagulls floated at eye level on the airstreams from the cliffs.

Sketch in situ

First small sketches to have a wee think, pen and pencil, then a bit more detail, then onto larger pages and chalk and charcoal.  I will keep drawing these ‘objects’ until I understand them and will gradually move into paint and colour. I need a lot of drawing references for the planned prints.

This is the first proper painting trip I have been on this year, so things were a bit disorganised – in bags and boxes – I brought EVERYTHING.  So, first job was to get the kit sorted out for the day’s research. In the end I put the equipment for each medium in its own bag. I also taped watercolour paper to Perspex boards to have the ready for use. Of course all this took longer than expected. But then it is also part of focusing for the day ahead.


As is the drive around to get a feel of the location. I have now begun to realise that this is part of the process too, in fact there is quite a palaver to selecting the right spot to draw. Quite apart from the practical considerations of how to reach it, and is it safe, it must also meet the requirements of whatever notion I am pursuing. It’s one of the reasons I return to certain spots over and over again.

I like wherever possible to revisit a view and draw it dozens of times to really get to understand it – much the way I would for life drawing. Usually, too, the spot has been picked because it is representative of a whole category, it is a good example of ‘the species’. Thus it can take a while to locate! But I got lucky with Kilkee and it is exactly the material I was looking for.


Day two the weather changed, but I was able to get in a few hours drawing before I had to leave. I have mastered the art of drawing from inside the car, it just requires some skilful if death defying parking. And a few contortions.

Car Park Kilkee

It also turns the car into a mobile studio, and as it’s also essential for scouting and reaching the places I need to be, at this stage I am including access to wheels as ‘ part of my process’ whenever I make funding applications.

IMG_0385 IMG_0384IMG_0383

By the end, outside was getting a bit blustery – an occupation hazard of working outdoors!


Then back to Dublin – Till next time…….

Next stage: The studio!

Starting Peripheries

May 2014.  As ever the beginning of a project is the hardest part.  And as ever finding the funds to do it is an issue, in fact it gets quite frustrating. I know exactly what I want to do, but until I get the wherewithal to do it I am very limited in what I can achieve. I will start however, and do whatever I can do under my own steam.

The plan is to visit a series of specific landscapes to do research drawings and paintings to work towards a print series.  I don’t like explaining what I do or to ‘translate’ it into words. but suffice  it to say for various creative reasons I need to be IN the landscapes themselves when I do this.

To this end I have begun to apply to residencies, some in Iceland and some in Norway. I need to apply for arts grants to do these,  but then I need an invitation or acceptance letter from a residency to make the funding application;  there is no way to streamline the process, so I have sent out a bevvy of applications and submissions. I also expect to need to go more than once to each destination so if I can get accepted to more than one all the better!

First up however, is the West of Ireland – my favourite hunting ground of West Clare, in this case Kilkee. Thanks to a friend Orla K who has provided accommodation for a few nights right in the middle of where I need to be! It will still be a bit of a push to get there for the usual dull practical  reasons but until I get some drawings done I can’t start anything. Even if I can get just a few I can at least start to work on test plates. 

I have also just got an invitation to Gullkistan residency in Iceland. It’s very expensive, but the landscape nearby looks amazing!!  I could be properly excited if I was convinced I’ll be able to go, that said, I am thrilled silly!

I tripped over a Tony Robbins ‘you can do it’ sort of TED talk.  So, this will certainly be a test of his theories!

Of course, it’s not the only project I am working on, but it is the one which requires most resourcing, and will take longest. Luckily, I don’t feel inclined to rush.

Onwards and upwards –as I have often said, if artists got paid for filling in funding applications we wouldn’t need the funding in the first place! Smile