The Dunes Bar in Strandhill, Sligo. Crikey, anyone remember the Halloween when the Hulk was there? I mean, really there! Anyway, if you’ve survived one of the sessions you can now (well soon) get the t-shirt.
Keep an eyeball on their facebook space for when you can get your hands on one. If you’re not already a regular, be sure to get out there for their, now infamous, Monday night Open Mic. Pens are out getting a 2-3-colour version of the design for a screen-printed poster…
While on the mean streets of the big city it’s dog-eat-dog, out in the bush they do it different. More like, man-eat-sandwich, and tree-eat-bird. That sort of thing.
It was my sister that affirmed my presence would be necessary at this year’s Offset conference, Dublin’s premiere annual creative event for print and design. Some insight she has. With the last year being wholly immersed in purely marine science focused conferences and workshops, this event has been a welcome salmon swung hard into the back of the head.
I’m home fidgety, most uncomfortable, my arse and back aches and I’m baffled as to what the hell I’ve been doing in the evenings and weekends that has kept me from pumping out contorted reimaginings of the weirdness that is my current full-time work as print-ready artwork…
Personally, the cage-rattling inspiration has flocculated from the likes of:
Some of the stand-outs for this head, for sure, but additionally the threads of many others up-front and about the venue have been big ticklers. Unnaturally so but most welcome. Perhaps foolishly a commitment has been made to take on a commission for the production three works for print to be served up with a month. The brief is to draw the work into play using a three spot colour restriction for the work, the challenge as a nod to the fabulous work from Nobrow Press; find their books in all their deliciously fresh flesh and smell them, stroke them.
The challenge is thrown down. I know where I have to go to pull it up from and it’s going to get muddy…
Oi! Yep! My wave. Goin’ right. All mine. Mine alone. Really? Are you so sure?
Try to remember that ‘out there’ we are but guests. Sure, paddle out, take what you like… just not ownership. Only a fool would exhort their indignation when a representative of the silent, resident majority, those that make seethe these living waters, invoke their visitation rights.
A working week like pulled taffy… focus and functionality progressively drawn out, twisted and distorted. The colours and shapes, though still there, now some filamentous vagueness. Only there at that Friday evening terminus can one attempt to gather the unspooled self and make a pile from which, possibilities for the following days can be considered. Outside the atmosphere is seething… the wind inciting unrest.
At this point, some of us smile knowingly at the simplicity of what would seem the most appropriate, even rational, response. Rebirth yourself into the weekend at full speed to meet a berzerking sea, itself thrashing with disconsolate fury into the faces of some sullen West-coast headlands.
The car’s thermometer bottomed out finally at -0.5 degrees. Amidst another squall, walloping gusts makes us shudder sideways again over the median strip. No need to start so early but there’s little solace; the dour weather has brooded the gloom of the past dark hours onward into the mid-morning. On first inspection, the tide seems to be shirking its responsibilities and the swell plays coy, reclusive ’till tickled deep down where it wants before stirring.
But eventually it comes and we disrobe.
Despite the low-digit degrees making the sleety rain prick like pins, the appropriate accoutrements are wrestled on with fetishistic zeal of the masochist. The wind whips savagely at our boards, shrieking its threats to tear them from our clawed fingers and obliterate them down the long boulder-strewn point. Falling finally, bodily exhausted into the sea, the foam presses hard at the chest and the ordeal of paddling out into the gale begins for the first of many, many repetitions.
Sixty-something kilometer-an-hour, and then some, winds lift sheets of foam spray on any shift of chop foolish enough to rear too tall from the sea’s surface. Another squall shrieks in and with it, bitter beads of hail blast at the only skin exposed – full facial dermal abrasion. Little respite is possible for without the incessant stroking back into the wraith-like lee of the headland, one would be lost out into the bay and beyond.
And yet we were the wealthiest creatures alive for our wages were paid in diamonds…
The wind drops and there may be just enough, from the right direction, at the right tide for… going hunting. Choosing to pass on the en-mass patronage of those days of thunder in favour of a search for silence and small sliders. The incredible diversity of the coastline out here is highly conducive to such pursuits.
While Herculean monsters heave-ho on the outer banks, the deep pulses probe further in vibrating headlands as they swing inward, bending and distorting as they shuck out scything embayments, warping about a myriad of little islets before laughing out loud over bewildered bombies and quiet sand or pebbled strands of the inner reaches whose experience is oft limited to burbling tidal chuckles or wind-blown sniggers.
A single fin and that way-back swing that only a big log provides is the only sensible way to slide these things. Strange occasions are these to find waves pushing in this deep but here is true solace. With a tiny window for opportunism, the search is frantic and furtive but it’s hard to appear discreet tipping along with racks stacked with nine-plus planks and foreign car reg.
We’re scrambling about the tatty roads out there ‘somewhere’ (I’m often lost and gleeful of it) with, at best, scraps of doodles on maps for guidance but mostly tickling hunches. The car swerves again back onto the pot-holed and frosty black top after drifting from the distractions of the wildly gesticulating passenger to yet another spurt of foam from behind a crumbling stone wall or salt-buckled hedge of blackberry and furze.
Sure it cold, sure we drove two hours and more to get there and then some and sure it’s dark soon after 4pm. It sure was empty though and You can be sure I’m heading for the boonies again just as soon as I get the chance.
Celebration of fin variation. Every board comes alive anew with the change of the fin. Now, this may result in a favourite board becoming a complete dog or best, an old dog cavorting anew. Love, lost and found at the twist of a screw…
Originals in watercolour and gouache, approx. 140 mm x 140 mm.
What a thing! The fin! Driving the passion from beneath the feet of the riders and sliders. The flex and spring as they weave their song through shifting swells. Cuts made across shimmering faces fizz in a moment before closing again as swift as their making. Sinuous shapes, such pretty things of form and function, come together in…
“These Strange Hearts of Desire”
Original watercolour and gouache, 140 mm x 140 mm.
Unframed – €85.00 each; set of five, €350.00.
Gale to storm-force winds last night and this morning have whipped the white horses to frantic frolics across Dublin Bay. I have a plan to escape into the city and haunt the National Gallery. Complaints from the comfortable are too easily tossed about when the weather gets wild. The air is crackling with energy and I reckon getting out and about for a spell can pump some fiery charge into the soul.
“The Departed” – watercolour
I was chatting with the old man sometime in the last week or so and he detailed for me a wonderful vision of our home beach. They’re just across the road from a beach back on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia; a long, serpentine ribbon of coarse golden sand that gets a good wallop now and then from the Pacific. Dad reckons that when there’s a wave up you get a fair idea who’s out in there by looking at the dogs on the beach. Abandoned, left to guard the towel and t-shirt, these departed hounds express their resignation or indignation as their breeding (often a medley thereof) dictates.
Detail from, “The Departed”
Detail from, “The Departed”
Detail from, “The Departed”
Xmas this year has landed us in the Dublin’s South side. Snagging what time one can between feeding and what would seem to be a bottomless teapot, I’ve been reaching for the pen and watercolour and finding all sorts of things coming out; plenty of weirdness too which is generally always welcomed. The wreckage through the sketchbook is telling of the cache of curiosities squeezed in behind the daily porridge; the seceding squirrel, the cat that never was, the blue dog, and the unintelligible couple…
Merry xmas ya weirdos.
“Away day” – watercolour
“Kitty” – watercolour
“Blue on blue” – watercolour
“Match” – watercolour
Hoo-bloody-ray for the internet and video-calls. It’s grouse to be able to catch up with family on the other side of the planet; family, but particularly the family blue dog.
Apparently he has a bugger of a time of it trying to get the postcards written without opposable thumbs. I know he misses me as much as I miss him. I wouldn’t be surprised if the little fellah didn’t paddle up to me one morning while I’m somewhere out on the Sligo coast having legged it the whole way across from the coast. Then again, being as cluey as he is he’d probably just nip me on the ankle as I step off the bus from work one evening – him, after sorting out his own flights and transfers, turning up unannounced for a surprise two-week holiday. Clever little bastard; I wouldn’t put it past him.