The secret gallery’s blog

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

Archive for the ‘I would say…’ Category

Conversations with trees

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Drawings in the studio

Left Bird flight formation

Right Conversation with a tree



Detail of drawing

pigment and ink drawn with an eagles feather on wall-paper

A few years ago I attended a Shaman weekend workshop in Dunderry park, Co. Meath, which I really enjoyed. Part of the workshop introduced the practice of “Stalking Awareness” which was a very slow moving operation involving listening to the Earth, one particular morning this was followed by having a conversation with a tree, it is amazing what you hear when you listen! This particular tree was not too happy about man’s unharmonious relationship with nature, particularly roads and traffic, considering its close proximity to Tara and nearby motorway it is not surprising! I still don’t know if it was me talking or the tree, I suppose it is all the same thing!

Written by Marianne Slevin

20 January, 2009 at 12:28 am

Let me light up!

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Detail of work on paper in the studio today

Willow Charcoal, indigo pigment and ink on paper   Marianne Potterton 2008-2009



Detail of work on paper in the studio today

Compressed charcoal, indigo pigment and ink on paper   Marianne Potterton 2008-2009


I am feeling a bit disgruntled today about certain things so I thought I would make some art about it! Things like not being able to smoke in a pub or cafe. I don’t care what they say it has changed things; people don’t go out and talk and and fun like they used to, they stay in and watch television more. Our freedom is slipping away, bit by bit. Life has gotten so serious, so today I say light up, (a candle if you don’t smoke!) lighten up and liven up!

These drawings started off as stone rubbings from the floor of the Secret Gallery, then I saw that it looked a little like the sea and coast line maybe even the Cliffs of Moher.If you look closely you can see a little boat and a tent, James in search of wilderness!

Written by Marianne Slevin

5 January, 2009 at 5:14 pm

The Art of Selection and Integration in the age of information

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Overload! even as I write this blog the T.V. is on, I turn it off! The wind blows, there is information and lessons coming from every direction: nature, myself and each member of the family, every electric gadget in the house such as, iPods, laptops and televisions! and memories of past lessons and information. There are also lifetimes worth of learning in books, poems other people’s art and many other things to take in. That’s just inside the house!

One of the jobs of an Artist is to make a lot of decision! What is important? It seems limitless, stretching into infinity, but you have got to start the journey with a single step, that step could be in any direction. It could even be a step too far! Last night I had a dream about making a garden in a little corner of a built up area, I planted young leek plants and laid some stones but there was something missing, I placed one of my boots set one step into the earth, by removing one step’s worth of earth, like the person had taken one step too far or something! I think I might actually try to reconstruct this dream somewhere in the real world. When you dream you have already filtered through loads of information and made sense or stories out of what you have been witness too. Sometimes this can be really creative, and uncensored, and while we are asleep there are not all the usual distractions of external information.

Sometimes I ask myself can I  balance the information I receive, and give it perspective, can I integrate the ideas of the modernists and the postmodernists? Can I also while doing this not dissipate into a million different directions! Is it simply better to forget everything you think you know and give it to the wind and the snow! Sit under a tree and learn everything you need to know!? Or continually balance our two sides? Maybe if we could balance our own polarities so they sang in harmony the rest of the world would follow!

Written by Marianne Slevin

10 November, 2008 at 5:09 pm

Beautiful bowls by the side of the road

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Sometimes art is seen as a commodity; an object separate from life and the rest of the world, which is bought and sold. I love when life and art merge into one another. We probably cannot sell these creative moments, but that does not mean that they are not worthwhile! In many other cultures it feels like art and life do merge. Costumes, ritual, dance, story telling are just some of the aspects of art that are practiced in a very living way, that do not have to be sealed into a white gallery to exist.( I like going to galleries as well but wish there was more art every day in life !)

In the west, practicality seems to breed out the finer details that are so important in art. Sometime we pair away the heart and art in our obsession with survival in our throw away fast culture. Mass production, and often the use of cheap materials that either unfortunately, last forever or are designed only to last as long as they bring out the next model for us to buy are cutting away at our right to a more beauty filled life, compromise when we try to live our dreams seems to be too normal. Where are the artisans?

We have started selling beautiful wooden bowls, platters and lamps created and turned by my Father, in the Secret Gallery. On fine days we leave some of these lovely bowls on a table with an table cloth with word written on a walk through the Burren. This arrangement is at our gate by the side of the road. As the wind blows the table cloth billows out from the sea smoothed rocks that hold it down, and random Burren inspired words are revealed.       

Written by Marianne Slevin

25 September, 2008 at 5:39 pm

On-line drawing class

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You can draw with just about anything that leaves a mark, pencils are not bad but why limit yourself when there are so many things to choose from! Personally, I like to to and fro between what we think of as traditional art materials with house hold materials and ingredients; I would like to have my pencils varying in hardness or softness  from HB to 7B or so, charcoal, willow and the blacker more condensed type, inks, chalks, oil pastels and oil bars etc. However I am just as excited by using things that you can find in the kitchen or on a walk. One of my favourite things to draw with is stick and some ordinary writing ink.  I really like being forced to be freer by the materials I use. I do remember trying to draw or paint with just about everything in my parents larder once!

One of the most important lessons I ever got in drawing was, when you are drawing from life, never make it up and just fill in an area, even if it is in the shade, if you look very closely it will vary, made up areas do lack something important. The looking part of drawing is as important as the mark making part.

Some exercises in drawing that I have found to be useful or fun have been:

Drawing from memory, looking at what you are going to draw then stop looking and try to draw from memory

Drawing with your eyes closed, (this I do a lot!)

Drawing by touch rather than sight

Very quick drawings, for example 3 or 5 minutes.


Last thing, don’t throw anything away! It might be really good and you just don’t realise yet! it is also good to be able to look back at what you did.

Written by Marianne Slevin

18 September, 2008 at 12:04 am