The secret gallery’s blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘secret gallery

Beach collections

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The other day, I headed to a beach near Lahinch, well it is a stony beach with driftwood and a lot of rubbish. After almost filling the boot of the car with drift wood, I decided to fill a large bag with plastic bottles and bring them to the bottle bank. It was like saying a little thank you to the beach for the driftwood. When we got home our children played with the driftwood and we have been burning it in the fire and I have kept some of the more suitable pieces for hanging some of the hand made books from and maybe to make some other things with them.

The Secret Gallery will be opening again soon, so we are getting ready, lots of tidying and painting and making small art objects for it. At the moment the theme is to create a fun and memorable ritual with an every day recycled object; creating something special out of the ordinary! Just think how much of our life we don’t remember; one day is often much like another. I would like to do little things to change that.


Written by Marianne Slevin

4 March, 2009 at 10:21 am

Off to search for pigments and drink mint tea in Marrakech

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Just is short blog tonight as we are off of to Marrakech via London tomorrow, cant wait! I wont be writing anything for a week but I hope I will have lots to say and photographs to put up when I come back! I am really looking forward to getting some more indigo pigment and poppy or poppy seed pigment or whatever you would call that lovely deep red colour! I remember the indigo I got there before, it had amazing variations of blues and indigo through it there were even traces of turquoise in it. When I ran out I found some more in Barcelona but is was not so amazing. If anyone knows a good place to get pigments could you please let me know, thank you! Here are some things I made using Indigo Pigment. I also did some time-based word ice melting on a sheet of, you will never guess……indigo pigment!


Indigo Wind dripped records, intervention at the Secret Gallery


Words written in indigo pigment,(twice submerged in the sea, once in Barcelona and once in Fanore Co Clare) the Secret Gallery


Horse Blanket, outer layer wax on cotton painted with Indigo pigment and terracotta earth, the Secret Gallery

Written by Marianne Slevin

1 December, 2008 at 8:31 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!


Front door of The Secret Gallery last Summer.


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Shells down the garden path at The Secret Gallery



Road sign, between Doolin and The Cliffs of Moher

Written by Marianne Slevin

22 November, 2008 at 10:36 pm

The times they are a changing!

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Propelled into motion by James my partner, we are juxtaposing drinking at home, budgeting and reducing our carbon footprint! (when I say drinking at home I mean once, but it was fun!) I have not been taking my usual unnecessary ticky-tours around in the car and constant trips to the not-so-near supermarket! The Secret Gallery has been a secret bakery today! I was hoping that just at its messiest moments that nobody would walk in! The smell of freshly baked bread can help sell a house but I am not sure about paintings! Or more lightly recently, burnt offerings and flour everywhere! This morning’s baking was brown bread, then sticky flap jacks, apple and pear crumble with organic fruit from Mum and Dad’s garden. I am trying to resist the temptation to do a 20 something kilometer round trip just to buy a bulb of garlic, I know it would make the lentil and squash Indian dish I am making, taste allot better! Though I made it so spicy we probably wont be able to taste a thing!

The other day I picked up the book, Scott’s Last Expedition. Reading the glossary I was woken up slightly when I read the endangered words such as:

Barrier, the immense sheet of ice, over 400 miles wide and still greater length, which lies south of Ross Island to the west of Victoria Land.

Frost smoke, a mist of water vapour above the open leads, condensed by severe cold.

Piedmont, coastwise stretches of the ancient ice-sheet which once covered the Antarctic continent, remaining either on the land or  wholly or partially afloat.

Nunatak, a ‘lonely peak’ of rock in the mist of ice; when rounded by glacial action, a Nunakol.

Written by Marianne Slevin

5 October, 2008 at 5:55 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

Secret art in surprising places

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I love the idea of things being a little bit surprising, even odd! I would like to think of the art that I make extending out beyond the parameters of the frame or actual piece that I make. I was thinking why did we call the gallery The Secret Gallery, well one of the answers is that the word secret hints at something that is unknown possibly magical or mysterious, coming across something that is personal or intimate as opposed to solely commercial. I like the idea of having a gallery in a cottage that is also a home. To me art and life are inseparable. I do also enjoy the less homely type of gallery! However, they say we try to create what we think missing in the world, and I wish there were lots of secret galleries, and if I was going to buy some art I would love to talk to the artist over a good cup of coffee or a glass of wine! I wish there was more art that was taken out of its studio storage hiding places! For me it has been a very positive experience to air my paintings and other art work to the public.

Written by Marianne Slevin

13 September, 2008 at 1:42 pm

Risk taking and heart expression

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Lately there has been plenty risk taking and heart expression going on in the studio of the secret gallery! I was painting with our children again, it was great, exhausting but great! It is said that we are all born artists it is as we grow up that allot of us loose it, but Clement Greenberg said that child prodigies exist in other art forms but not visual art. I wonder why he felt that it was different to say music? I am not sure how I feel about it. I wrote an essay on Greenberg and Modernism it was a very long time ago though! I recall him being an advocate of art for arts sake, referring to itself and not the external world, like American Abstract Expressionism. Sometimes this is can be like a more considered form of how a child paints, in a way, but developing it to something beyond haphazard play, or at least being conscious that you are trying to paint like a child! Many of us spend many years trying to learn how to not paint like a child and then we have to start forgetting again! It seems for allot of artists to be an important process; you learn and then you shuffle around what you want to remember and what you want to forget! You change the scales of importance in a way, this bending and flexing is often very playfully. This begs the question does age or maturity have much to do with visual art? If a child makes a beautiful painting, does it mean less than if an adult painted it?  How much does a child have to express? What about reincarnation then?! if it does exist, I wonder if the great artists of the past are making visual art now?!

The paintings  we have been working and playing on are not finished yet, but they are looking promising. I have worked with many different elements before; including doing set ups in nature where the wind or rain made the marks but now we have children and they love making all sorts of marks! The three of us work on the canvas. I like taking risks with my work and pushing it beyond where is has been. Painting with the children has been a really interesting direction for me. It is also a careful balancing act between keeping them happy and enjoying painting and working with their marks to help it come to a new level; they have something I don’t have and I have something that they don’t have so, we are a good team! I have the years, plenty to express and years of practice! They have the have the magic marks that are not self conscious; they are very free. With painting sometimes you have to risk totally loosing it to make something better. One of the paintings I was working on I liked but know it had further to go I offered it to our children, with hesitation, allowing them to change its direction forever! The other painting is looking a little bit like a Cy Twombly, I love his work, to put it very simply, it is like some of the most beautiful scribbles and dribbles you have ever seen, powerful and delicate at the same time!  I wonder will anyone come and kiss it as one woman did to a Cy Twombly painting!

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Written by Marianne Slevin

1 September, 2008 at 2:19 pm