The secret gallery’s blog

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

In Hindsight in Foresight

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The Mycelium and Earth Regeneration Project, ink and pigment on paper map, 2011 Marianne Slevin

If someone was ever to ask me, “what Art College I should apply to? or where should I live if I want to give my art career a really good chance?” I would say go to where there is a vibrant art scene, great galleries and museums and a lot of artists. That is if you care about being successful as a recognized artist. For a wonderful Christmas present James my husband gave me two mammoth books, Vitamin P2 and Vitamin D by Phaidon, new perspectives in Painting and Drawing. I was not entirely surprised to see where the Artists lived, nearly all of them live in major cities particularly New York and other American cities, even if they were born somewhere else. Another example of this is the artist Katie Holten, who is one of my favorite contemporary artists. She grew up in rural Ireland and now has a very successful art career in New York.

What are we to do about this? We cant all up sticks and leave to go to a metropolises seeking fame and fortune! One thing we can do is to create our own mini vibrant art scene around us, by joining others for reinforcement. Bringing our creative skills outside our practice as well, inventing new ways of working within a rural community. I have just joined the Artist’s group called Ground Up Artists Collective. These are a group of around 20 Artists who have their own practices but come together as a collective for art projects within the rural community as well is galleries. I am really looking forward to taking part in some new diverse works. The Altruism Movement T.A.M. is also starting to come together again and we will be starting to do some collaborative projects very soon again.

Another thing we can do is realize that while it might be harder to gain recognition in rural places as an Artist the rural is a wonderful and inspiring place to make art work, and the more Artists that stay the more creative a place it will be for everyone. However I do intend to visit cities more to create more openings to show my work to a larger audience. Starting with Dublin where I am also looking forward to seeing the work of Rivane Neuenschwander in The Irish Museum of Modern Art, then London then who knows! What do you Think?

Written by Marianne Slevin

20 January, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Enjoy it!

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Work in Progress oil on canvas Marianne Slevin

There has been a lot of Alan Watts recorded chatter going on around here lately. Alan Watts was a very entertaining philosopher. The book  is called “Your it!” James gave it to me for my Birthday, he also gave me “Empowering Women” by Louise L. Hay, I have been really enjoying both of them. What really struck me from the very beginning of both books was that the authors said “I am not a healer” Louise L. Hay and “I am not a guru” Alan Watts, it is all about you. I like this attitude. What I also realized was that I want to be “digging the now” as Alan Watts puts it, when it comes to making art and doing it because I am really enjoying doing it, not to try to be good or make work to impress people. This my seem obvious but when I heard it, it made me rethink. There is so much pressure on artist trying to look and sound coherent particularly for commercial galleries that much of the enjoyment of making art is lost. Artists whose work was once exciting and unselfconscious becomes dull, tripping over itself.  What is the point unless you are enjoying it! I know I enjoy making art but somehow I never fully realized just how important that was before. I wanted to make good work before, now I don’t care who thinks it is good or not I am just doing it because I enjoy it. I feel like I have defiantly lost a couple of wrinkles!

This sounds really simple but what happens then is that what you enjoy doing one moment changes and you become bored and have to keep finding the new things to keep you surprised and entertained. Each different painting will have many different stages of enjoyment in it. With the piece that I have been working on for the past two months on and off, more off than on! I painted until I ran out of excitement and then I stopped, I looked at it many times to see if I know what to do with it, not until yesterday was I able to and today I really enjoyed bringing something else to it that I didn’t have before.  It is constantly moving and shifting like everything else. There are challenging times when you are not enjoying it and you are wondering how to! For me every painting is unique and you have to kind of trick yourself to get out of your own way and let it happen. The allure of paintings for me is not in the obvious or the details but the magical symphony that happens when you soften your gaze and disengage your rational brain for a while!

Written by Marianne Slevin

3 January, 2012 at 12:37 am

The Power Of Local

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It has been a long long time, and my tech skills have got rusty to say the least. I tried to post this on The Altruism Movement website but it ended up here as I could not remember how to post it on that site, I hope I find out soon. On Sunday 7th August some of TAM (The Altruism Movement) Caitriona Sheedy, Sinead O’Connell and myself met in Ennistymon at “The Power of Local”.  As it was raining we could not do what we had planned to do but instead did this boat sailing in a very large puddle in the centre of the town.

It was fun and great to be able to do something with the children, as art and children don’t always mix very well. There were actually three different performances going on in the square at the same time. Most of the artists were out in force for the festival that lasted  for four days.  I mentioned a while ago that we had been planning to leave our boats in some floods or puddles for a while so this was a perfect opportunity for it. We left the boats for passers by to see and take if they wished. Some other children played with them which was great. I think when the flood disappeared people could not really see them and they go run over. I picked up the flattened boats the next morning off the road, I probably should have followed our sons advice and brought them home.

Written by Marianne Slevin

5 September, 2011 at 10:25 am

A Happy Story

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The Ennis Street Festival was held last weekend on the 2nd and 3rd of July. Myself and a couple of others from The Altruism Movement (TAM) went to do some art, write some quotes and poetry and give away some art. It was a lovely sunny day, we met in the square. One of the group painted while two of us wrote in chalk on the pavement around the square. There was a Nazi symbol and something negative written on a wall in one corner. I thought that some poetry would be good to transform the space, so I wrote one of Bonnie Quinn Cotter’s poems called “Clean Slate” in the long narrow space under where there was the fascist words and symbol. Then we went to another area of town to write quotes. When I returned I could no longer read the racist comment on the wall, I thought that the bright sun had done something to my eyes. Or had somebody washed the wall?

Today, while I was talking to the artist that had been painting on the square, I mentioned this to her.  She said when I left some man came and asked to use some of her paint. He said he wanted to paint over something. She could not really see what it was from where she was sitting, but he said that from one of the pubs across the square you could see it clearly and it had bothered him for years. So when he saw her painting he asked to borrow her paint so he at last could cover it over.

Written by Marianne Slevin

8 July, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Posted in Happenings and interventions

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The Art Of Positive Influences And Support

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Prayer flags in German and English, indigo on recycled cotton trousers

Art work by Svenja Seegers and Marianne Slevin, Kilshanny 2010

Sometimes you meet or see another artist’s work that relates so strongly to yours that it could have come from you. It is both a relief to find someone on your path but it can be a bit disconcerting. Sometimes you can find yourself not doing something you would have done because it is too similar to the other artists work, you might have started it before them but they realized their project, you left yours unfinished. Now their’s is hanging in a prestigious gallery. Or you fear that if you look at artist’s work that is similar to your own that it will influence your work too much. My husband brought up an interesting question about it. He said it seems when artists talk about being influenced by deceased artists work it is talked about positively, but when they talk about being influenced by contemporary artists it is seen as a bad thing. This seems quite true for some reason. Some of my biggest influences would have come from my art college friends. Not so much what our work looked like but our philosophies about art formed and grew together in some ways. We were all living in the same city at the same time, not only going to college and studying art together  but socializing together, talking for hours about art and life almost every day for several years. It was a wonderful environment for creativity.  But at one time or another you have to live again outside of that cosy world so you have plenty of material to work with, it is not just output, but you are refilling that inspiration tank. It is like having all the tools and skills without having experiences in life to take from.

There is something to be taken from this close community of artists that many of us loose when we leave college. Life takes over, many great things happen but for many their contact with other artists is on the sparse side. For me I live with a wonderful muse who has encouraged me to make art for the last almost 7 years, otherwise I would have probably stopped. A couple of months ago I started an Artist’s group that meets up regularly and it reminds me of being back in college, drinking tea and coffee and talking passionately about what art we are going to make. It is an organic type of group, growing and changing. It started out being about artists making art work including poetry and text in the public spaces that seem neglected both urban and in the landscape. This is still the main focus of the group but having a supportive network of other artists is a wonderful thing. One of the other benefits of working in  a group is when you are working in a public space on your own can seem like a daunting and sometimes embarrassing challenge, but when there are a few of you doing it it feels a lot safer and less embarrassing.

We have all come from different art backgrounds and work in different ways, but even though we have just started there is already a sense of harmony between the group and huge potential for growth. We are open to sharing ideas and collaborating to make projects that bigger and more far reaching then any one of us could do alone. We wish to continue our own solo practices while having the opportunity to work with other creative people when we wish to. It is definitely a time to join forces and encouraging creativity in others rather then competing with each other and owning ideas.

A wise lecturer in College many years ago, called Mick Wilson told us some truths about contemporary art practice. He said we better think creatively about the whole of our art practice not just the actual art we make, but that we can’t relay on selling our art alone to make a living, but we need  to be creative and inventive about the way we are artists too. He asked us all what we planned to do when we left college. I remember having some very naive plan to have a studio in some castle grounds where the visitors would come in and  see and buy my art work. We may not get our studio in the castle but on a realer level we can help ourselves by creating a network of like-minded individuals and getting our art out without waiting to be invited or at least as well as being invited to exhibit in our chosen galleries.

Written by Marianne Slevin

24 May, 2011 at 10:07 pm