Art and Heartfuless

This photograph which I took a few days ago brings me to Claude Monet and from him to Dad.

See, it was during Summertime when I was 7 or 8 that Dad first introduced me to The National Art Gallery in Dublin. We used to swap houses with his sister, who lived in Dublin, and that was when we tended to visit places that Mother and Father loved.

It was Dad who was into art galleries and I adored going to them with him. Whenever he came to Dublin in the years that I lived there we would head for The National Gallery, view the art and then dine at leisure and chat contentedly.

He loved that he had passed on his enjoyment of art to me and could more than understand how I savoured going on guided Gallery tours on Sunday afternoons and taking a year long evening course in art history.

Every New Year’s Day for years and years, I gave him an Impressionist calendar which had its special place in his bolt hole.

How can one ever thank a parent enough for sowing the seeds of love for such precious things as creative arts and sport?

I guess one way is to try and pass on the love to future generations in a non-pushy way and hope that it will take root.


Forest Floor
Forest Floor

Mount Congreve Gardens served up special beauty on its last open days for this season.

Standing deep in the woods, I was treated to this piece of abstract art that has been shimmering around in my mind.

It seems all the more poignant today as I’ve just come back from visiting a life long friend who has dementia. Her short term memory may be impaired but so much of her layered essence remains. Her smile, her voice, her sense of fun, her memories of days we shared and most of all the feel of her hand in mine.

Where does the image take you? 

The High Point in my Blogging Career

I can say, without hesitation, that finding the link to this post by Earthabridge in among the comments to Social Bridge has been the highlight of my blogging career to date.
The very idea that a woman at the other side of the world had ‘read’ me so well both here and on Facebook ( that’s where I share my love of Van Gogh!) and had gone to the trouble to write about me, was amazing.
In so many ways, I suppose this is what I had hoped for when I started Social Bridge. Is there anyone among us who doesn’t wish to meet ‘kindred spirits?’
Anyway, I’ve copied the blog post from Earthabridge, because it lives on Blogger, but please drop over and read it (and lots more) there, if you wish to get the authentic feel!
Thanks so, so much Joan!

Kindred Spirits

Sometime, call it luck, call it preparation, call it synchronicity, the universe sends you a little present. You know, a surprise gift which overwhelms you? Such is my reaction to the discovery of the blog Social Bridge (WordPress)  by Jean Tubridy from Tramore near Waterford, Ireland.
Like me, this Jean loves poetry and gardens and Van Gogh and art in general. She loves the ocean while I, a prairie girl living in the mountains, am a triple earth lover, with an exaggerated fear of water. That may have something to do with being a fire sign. Although the beaches she writes about seem to be near some of the genealogy research I’ve been doing, around Kinsale. And on the bus tour I took last summer which included Belfast, Dublin, Kilkenny, Waterford, I took a picture of the Norman tower in that last city (where our stop seemed mainly focused on a souvenir shop). Jean’s passion for Yeats I also share, although the poet of my dreams is Leonard Cohen who I first heard sing at a concert at university my first year.
Jean writes about losing aged parents. I moved from the prairie province of Manitoba to BC when my mother was ill. Within four years, she was dead. One of my first finds in my new home was this framed copy of someone’s calligraphy exercise, of “Crossing the Bar,” Tennyson’s famous poem about grief, which Jean’s mother asked to be read at her funeral. This piece of art, black ink, teal blue and gold paint, still hangs on the wall in front of my computer.
Crossing the Bar
I’m not sure exactly how I stumbled upon her blog. I do check out “bridge” references. This blog is called Earthabridge. And I have been doing weeks and weeks of Ireland research for my latest fiction project. The three saints, especially Bridget (which must be part of Tubridy.) Searching for Art. Genealogy. History. Sacred stones. Sacred wells. Sacred sites. Yeats and Heaney. Geology as it relates to eskers and bogs. The name Tubridy even came up again in a research paper on a specific esker which appears in my story.
I don’t know this woman but I wish I did. And in many ways, I feel as if I’ve known her all my life. Finding her blog, like I said, feels like a gift from the universe, a link to the other side of the world. As if a crack has opened up and let light into my life.
J.M. (Joan Margaret) Bridgeman

Monet and Me

Water Lilies
Water Lilies

Monet dominated my thoughts as made my way to Mount Congreve Garden yesterday. I knew the water lilies would be in full bloom and they were.

I have had a passion for art since I was very young. I think it was probably ignited by my father who brought me to the art galleries in Dublin from the time I was a tot. He was the person who introduced me to Great Artists, like Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh ….. but there was another person who gave me a love of painting.

Her name was Miss Barrett and she was my art teacher in Secondary School.  I absolutely adored Thursday afternoons in First Year, especially, as we had a whole hour and a half of art with Miss Barrett and this came after a hellish morning grappling with subjects that were beyond me.

Miss Barrett seemed ‘old’ then; I suspect she was probably in her early 50s, if that! She knew how to inspire and encourage and had a motherly gentleness that always made me feel that happy, secure comfortableness that is often so elusive.

I didn’t have a natural flair for drawing or painting but Miss Barrett wanted all her pupils to enjoy art and to experiment without fear.

The happiness of Thursday afternoons descended on me in Mount Congreve yesterday and I felt like Miss Barrett was walking with me.

Pastel Pink
Pastel Pink

I doubt Miss Barrett ever knew how much those classes meant to me and I deeply regret that I never even thought to thank her.

How I’d love to take up art again and find a teacher with Miss Barrett’s wonderful traits.

When a Mermaid Opens her Purse

It was through blogging that I met Clare Scott, who has the wonderful blog, The Mermaids Purse.  We only live a few miles from each other and share a passion for nature and the sea.

While I’ve long been admiring Clare’s artwork on her blog, it was only on Saturday when I went to the opening of her art exhibition in Waterford, that I saw the true depths of her talent and creativity.

I could only chuckle to myself as I got dressed up (by my standards) to go to the opening and met Clare in a very flattering ‘little black number.’ We had never met before dressed in anything but outdoor gear ~either layers and layers of jumpers and jackets or functional swimsuits and rainbows of towels.

Clare Scott at the Exhibition Opening
Clare Scott at the Exhibition Opening

The art exhibition ShellSTONESilkBONE lures one into a world of texture and colour. Not suprisingly, the sea and the seashore feature strongly but through eyes which have clearly been captivated by the gorgeous detail of seaweed, stones,  shells …..

Clare’s ability to capture texture and bring one into folds and layers is breathtaking. I simply loved what I can only describe as ‘silk drapes’ with the light playing on them. And, this drape theme is also found in some stunning paintings of bedrooms ~ I am still haunted by one of a room in a hostel in San Francisco where the net curtains look like they are still moving after being gently twitched.

I simply couldn’t go home after seeing ShellSTONESilkBONE, which is being staged at Aoife’s Cafe and Gallery opposite historic Reginald’s Tower in Waterford City. I made my way to Garrarus Beach which is the place I most associate with Clare. With a feeling of sisterhood, I felt I should take a photograph of Garrarus as it looked while the exhibition was demanding Clare’s attentions.

Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford.
Garrarus Beach, Co. Waterford.


ShellSTONESilkBONE runs until June 30th and is guaranteed to draw you in and soak you with new perspectives on what you may have thought was a familiar world. 


Nature’s Balm

Woods and woodland gardens near the sea played a huge part in the long lives of both my parents and I suppose it’s only natural that they feel like a natural habitat to me.

When I was out in my beloved Mount Congreve last Sunday morning, a host of happy memories came flooding back through the sheer abundance of colour, texture, growth, fadings, promises …..


Fleeting images of Mother with that serene look she always had when wandering in woods and among flowers that brought her back  to the farm of her youth in Co. Meath. How often she would quote these lines from George Byron:

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, 
There is a rapture on the lonely shore, 
There is society, where none intrudes, 
By the deep sea, and music in its roar: 

Dad’s deep appreciation of  colour and how he introduced me to art from a very early age with visits to the National Gallery of Ireland. Over the subsequent years, we always found reason to meet in the National Gallery, even when it made no logistical sense. His happy tears when I gave him a book about Impressionism on his 90th birthday ~ just ten days after Mother had died on May 31st 2009.

And that pink-lilac skirt that I wore so endlessly when I was twelve or thirteen. It made me feel so grown-up with all its tresses. It was the skirt that I sported when we went to visit my brother in boarding school in the Summer term. I had such hopes of making a lasting impression on all his friends as I flounced out of the back of the Vauxhall Viva …..

And Mount Congreve waits ….. I am so looking forward to seeing the clematis flowing majestically from the tallest trees imaginable; and soaking up even more of the carpet of bluebells that grow even more beautiful with each passing Spring …..



Lasting Impressions

I don’t expect anyone to understand exactly what this post is about. I’m writing it through a tangle of memories and new eyes.

This is a place which holds so many memories that I couldn’t even begin to detail them; it’s also a place which I have seen through the eyes of many who have never seen it before.

Today it presented, at first, as a blank canvas. But it gradually unfolded itself and its art in a way which forgot the past, ignored the future and focussed simply on the present.



Calendar Time ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 321

Everything about calendars matters to me and especially the calendar that comes to live in my study for a whole year.

Generally speaking,  I’ve tended to opt for the National Gallery of Ireland’s Calendar or one that’s linked in some way to Impressionist Painting as I crave artistic brilliance and colour.

This year, I broke with tradition and went for the M.I.L.K  Love Calendar. It was the November picture that grabbed me when I flicked through it in the shop and I confess I still haven’t turned to December!

Here’s that winning pic:

True LOVE never grows old Photo: M.I.L.K. LOVE Calendar 2013
True LOVE never grows old
Photo: M.I.L.K. LOVE Calendar 2013

What do you look for in a calendar ~ dates, legibility, a  timely experience or something else I should know about?

Colour, Creativity and Connection ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 317

Festival of Colour, Creativity and Connection
Festival of Colour, Creativity and Connection

I have been following a blog for some time now that combines Colour, Creativity and Connection most beautifully through the words and art of its inspirational creator, Benjamin Prewitt.

Autumn's Passing Artist: Benjamin Prewitt
Autumn’s Passing
Artist: Benjamin Prewitt

I just love Benjamin’s Artist’s Statement – Evolution:

My current series of acrylics and oil is a study in movement, texture, color and light, designed to evoke thought, feeling and conversation.The subjects of my compositions are found in the space between our challenges and rewards, that process that brings both endings and rebirth to our lives. Deep human emotional connection, nature and my perspective on the society in which we all live are the constant inspiration for my life and body of work.

For me, painting exists as a spark of recognition of the magical moments that remain outside of time and just beyond our fingertips. The framed brush strokes are not the half forgotten memories or long remembered dreams themselves; they are an invitation and the means to remember. My goal isn’t abstraction, but true and definitive expression. These compositions are the experiences that we have the hardest time finding the words to describe but to which we most easily relate.

I draw my inspiration from the greats: Miro, with his use of the space in between; Pollock, with his untamed yet calculated passion; Dali with a gift and vision only his mind could truly create and Picasso a master who’s brilliance needs no explanation. As a poet I draw additional inspiration from Bukowski, Emerson, Cummings, Shakespeare, Platt and countless more.

The human condition allows us all to love and lose, prosper and suffer. It’s my hope that art reminds us of our similarities, of our shared existence, and our collective memory. I believe that art can evoke long-lost passion or draw tears of memorable joy. It was only since I was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease that I truly have been able to see the gift I have been given, not the ability to do art or be a painter but the ability to live my life with clarity and purpose, hope and strength.It is through this process of art that I hope to share these gifts with all whom I come in contact with.

I guarantee that your Novembers and, indeed every month, will be brightened by following Benjamin’s brilliant and heart-warming  work