The secret gallery’s blog

Maybe the first secret gallery in Doolin, Co. Clare, Ireland

Archive for November 2008

Personal Statement

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My art practice and everyday life can blur into one another so much that it is impossible to separate them. I  often use everyday materials that are already in my life but somehow call me to create something with them, such as brown paper bags turned into poppy seed heads, a broken umbrella, the biker leathers James gave me for my 34th birthday. One day I put on these leathers and my back went for no apparent reason, we both thought that I needed to make some art with these leathers, some healing needed to be done, my back recovered!

My own art journey travels to the invisible and tries to make it visible and overlooked reconsidered and repositioned. I like to combine things which are rarely seen together; relocating them, such as painted words on clothes, both clothes for humans and in the past horses. I often use text in my art practice and see words as having a lot of power, like prayer flags.

However I do not limit myself to making or recreating objects solely, I move freely from the flatter lands of painting and drawing, printing, collage and photography and into the rolling hills of solid object land, I also enter the disappearing and reappearing land of video from time to time. As well as the land, sea and sky itself with environmental and time-based works. Sometimes these all overlap.

James Slevin is both my partner in life and my muse. In the past it was usual for male artists to have a female muses. We work together, I make, but he somehow sees from a distance with more clarity where the piece is going and guides it  in a very gentle and perceptive manner, not changing its destiny but helping it to fully reach it.  

(This statement is to go with my resent work, which is hand made objects and instillation art, though it is connected to my painting I have a separate statement for my painting written by  a great friend and art writer.)

Written by Marianne Slevin

27 November, 2008 at 11:15 pm

Modern Mary gets some finishing touches!

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A while ago I wrote about the piece I was making which was mused by James called ‘Modern Mary’. The piece started off as biker leathers with words painted on them, such as brave woman, strong woman, romantic woman, and a list of words that are associated with women. Today, after a conversation about the piece with James, I was encouraged if not sent off to finish the piece as an instillation piece and not just funky looking biker leathers! and to be on time for an open submission exhibition this Friday! So off I went to Ennistymon in search of old fashioned wallpaper, fabric, a very large shoe box or boot box and materials to make a good looking box!

I always find it difficult to finish my work so it becomes something concluded and salable, and does not disappear after a heavy shower! James is far better at this then I am. So he suggested that the box be part of the piece and displayed underneath it with the lid off and resting on the side of the box, the box needed to be lined with old fashioned paper like they would have been, he was thinking of around the 1920s or 1930s as the leathers are old and that is from about when things started to change the most for Women. I really like James’ idea of having the box that the piece is transported in being part of the work and just as much attention and love given to it. We discussed putting it in a glass case or even resin but I preferred the simplicity and lightness of the box. I love art that can be taken with you and is not too cumbersome. This folds up so neatly  into the boot box there is not an inch of waste!

It was fun going around the shops in Ennistymon and asking for the materials, and explaining what I needed them for, it is all part of the art making process. I also enjoyed sitting by the fire and meditatively wrapping wool around the wooden coat hanger listening to the wind. It was almost like knitting by the fire, something many women would have spent many wintry nights doing.

I liked James’ idea of the box looking like it had been stored since the 1920s and now the leathers are taken out and aired reveal ‘Modern Mary’.

Written by Marianne Slevin

27 November, 2008 at 12:52 am

Having Babies on the Camino de Santiago

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For a while the Camino was our life really, we even had our two babies on it! Our daughter is a Navarica (born in Navarra). We were on one of our many  perfect land or house hunts by car. We were living in Finisterre, which really did feel like the end of the earth! We had just danced on O Cebreiro,( a well know climb into Galicia to any pilgrim) for the Summer Solstice then headed for the Pyrenees. As the needle sank lower into the red on the fuel gauge we pulled into the last filling station on the mountain road, the master of the pumps said the final word ‘cerado’ !  We decided to camp in the mountains near Roncesvalles instead of going all the way to St. Jean Pied du Port to start our camino from there.

James was putting up the tent while I made some smoked salmon pasta, just a couple of feet from where the pilgrims walk. Our puppy ‘Fudge’ was nervous of a large dog that came to have a look at what was going on! While in the camping cooking position I suddenly felt that things were a little different to normal, I was either loosing control or I was soon going to have a baby! We embraced and James opened me a can of non alcoholic beer for the car journey, kind of like a pub crawl without the pubs or the alcohol! It was late it was dark we were really unsure of where we were going to end up ! I sat forward, willing the car on almost pushing it! Freewheeling down the mountains we laughed and felt unnaturally calm! We passed a closed Ambulance depot, memorising emergency numbers for the 50km journey. People at last ! We pulled over and asked where the nearest petrol station was, vaguely understanding, more memorising needed! We went over the flyover and into a check point! Broken waters in broken Spanish got the message across, and as soon as the car rolled to a stop by the pump, we had an escort of the Gardia Civil.   

Written by Marianne Slevin

24 November, 2008 at 11:21 pm

The Secret Gallery is a Sleeping and Meditating Space for the Winter!

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Gradually The Secret Gallery has become more and more homely, James has been baking everyday and his croissants, breads and biscotti have been divine! I have been making my own stock and soups. The other day as I carried a wooden platter turned by my Dad with some fresh bread made by James with loganberry jam on it made by my Mum into our children, they said “and everyone made the butter”! Long live the Good Life!

The gallery is becoming a meditation room for the winter, paintings are being stored and incense and candles are burning! If people are interested in visiting the studio to see some art work we can arrange that if we have a little notice! We will be opening up again next year, hope to see you all then!

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Front door of The Secret Gallery last Summer.

 

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Shells down the garden path at The Secret Gallery

 

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Road sign, between Doolin and The Cliffs of Moher

Written by Marianne Slevin

22 November, 2008 at 10:36 pm

Wind intervention at The Secret Gallery and Public Art Work by Maeve Collins

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These wind drip drawings were made 8 years ago on this very same clothes-line. Then the sheets of cotton lay on the ground and little paper vessels that I made by stitching old bank statement held the indigo pigment and oil that dripped as the wind blew them dangling from the clothes line. It was a  nice circle to hang them from the same clothesline but this time let them be blown by the wind and dance! I loved the sound they made and the meditative feeling you get from watching the repetitive but ever changing motion as the wind blows the wind dripped drawings; a little dance making the invisible visible.

The cotton moving backwards and forwards and the sound it made reminded me of a Public Art Piece that an Artist and Friend of mine Maeve Collins did in the Square in Ennistymon last summer. Maeve hung some real and elegant bed sheets with mirrors attached reflecting what was happening in the space around them, as they moved backwards and forwards on the sheets, while at the same time played recordings of elderly people talking about life on the island, which Maeve recorded while living on Inisheer. It was a lovely piece the Artist sat with her work to talk with anyone who wished to converse beside the meditative wave of the sheets that had been brought into the town. This is just a snippet as there is a lot more to Maeve’s work that I did not mention. As part of this Public Art Work her recordings also sailed  over the waves to the Aran Islands and there was a third part to this work, a line holding clocks, umbrellas a dress and musical instruments entered the sea at Liscannor, and the gateway to HiBrasil, an island some people say they have seen. I hope to put up some of the Artist’s images of this poetic art work soon, as I am having a little technical trouble today. So have a look in a few days they are well worth it!

 

A little thought I had today

If it is not right for you it is not right for the world!

Written by Marianne Slevin

19 November, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Peaceful Studio breakfast of James’ Biscotti and Coffee

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James’ Biscotti

 

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Our Children have been given breakfast in bed. I have decided to at least eat breakfast  in my studio even if I have not done much art there for a while! Well that is not exactly true as I have been painting clothes with fabric paint to create my new winter wardrobe!  Last night I renovated a chair that was very stained and with broken back, I did a painting of tree on the seat and the word Peace on the back.  Downstairs James was baking a symphony of almond and vanilla biscotti with the tangiest lemon drizzle icing. This morning I wonder what will I art-around with while I have my breakfast. They were definitely the yummiest biscotti I ever had! Sometimes the possibilities are so infinite that I get lost! Will I Paint, draw, print, make, stitch,and that is just the start1

Peace     

 

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Peace Chair at The Secret Gallery

Written by Marianne Slevin

18 November, 2008 at 10:21 am

Cyberspace and my studio space met when Linux Ubuntu 8.10 was launched!

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A while ago,  light-years in computer time but just a little flash in my time. It was the same day that Linux launched Ubuntu 8.10, that I did this painting. What is strange is that I was working close to James my partner  but I could not see what he was doing in his technological side of the room. while I dabbled with the earthy pigments that my Friend had given me for my birthday. Thinking about Google Earth maps and how the horizon line had changed from our usual perspective, and how this my influence landscape painting, mine at least! This influence from technology I was aware of but I was not expecting to recreate my own version of the Ubuntu screen-saver wallpaper! When I showed James this piece he said “that is very Ubuntu” I had a look at the screen of his laptop and was amazed at the strong resemblance. It shows me how effected we are by what is around us even if we cant see it!

For me, I like to paint the impossible, the surprising and the unacknowledged! I paint what I feel but am not ready to understand yet. Maybe I just paint whatever is floating around in the air! It often sounds silly when articulated into words but why should that stop us! I see this piece like earthy planets, somehow the above and the below have mingled! This is a fascination of mine, I have been preoccupied with unity and harmony between opposites for as long as I have made art. You my see a million other things, which for me is what art is really good at; the viewer participates and nobody is right or wrong, it is a game to be played! 

Written by Marianne Slevin

17 November, 2008 at 9:45 pm