It took me a while, but here it is! My travel to Ireland. I met wonderful people, saw amazing sites and made unforgettable connections. Thank you all!!
About a year ago, Sukanya and I began the long process to reach out to artists in Ireland in hopes of collaboration. We knew we were taking a risk, and we knew that funding organizations would not understand our mission. We wanted to talk to artists and writers and storytellers. We wanted to build relationships that might lead to collaboration and exhibits around a theme of strong women, mythical women, modern women, ancient women, women whose stories are not written in books, but told from grandmother to granddaughter, aunt to niece.
Four women and one man made the commitment to organize meetings with people they knew. They didn’t know us. We didn’t know them. We trusted that it would work. If it didn’t? We’ll learn about that, too.
It did work. Each of the five brought along another 30 along. Thirty new collaborators. Thirty artists and writers and storytellers and musicians who want to connect to other artists to create and learn and share.
We listened. And the end of one week of meetings, hikes, stories, art sharing, we are overwhelmed with the communion of artists and generosity of their time and spirit. We have more than an overwhelming amount of source material, we have relationships upon which we will make art.
We can never repay the generosity and kindness of our hosts. I can’t mention everyone, each who chose to meet with us or collaborate added immeasurably to our remarkable experience.
Miriam arranged for a group to meet us in Mullingar, in Jancita’s studio near her home. Seven women brought art to share, fiber to contribute to the group weaving, and stories aplenty.
On to Athlone, where Rosemarie organized a night in a yurt on the Hill of Uisneach, and a private tour with Ruth, a university lecturer and historian. Ruth led us on a three hour hike, up and down the hills of the royal land of kings that once lit the Beltane fires, signaling to all other communities that the festival could begin. She led us to Goddess Eiru’s burial site under the massive Cat Stone, and thousands of other details we could never remember, but will be familiar when we next come across them. It was windy and cold and damp. We didn’t care.
Patsy, the artistic director of the Fire Festival at the Hill of Uisneach, fed us and pampered us as she shared traditions of the land, helped us understand the role of the faeries. She shared her remarkable sculptures, and the inspiration behind them.
Rosemarie wasn’t done. She introduced us to adults with disabilities, who added their art to our projects, treated us to art exhibits, a night out at Sean’s pub (est. 900CE), and introduced us to music (thank you Aine), and wise women aplenty.
Sheila, at ArtFarm near Galway, sustained several personal losses and was forced to cancel. We hold her in our hearts and look forward to the time we can meet.
John led us to Susan’s pottery studio in Midleton near Cork, we we met with nine women and two men who had writings, poems, stories, and art to share. The state of the world interfered a bit and world politics crept into our conversations with reminders that artists and writers have the distinct privilege to address injustice and inequities on our work.
We know this is just the beginning. Individually we will make work that reflects our new relationships and new understandings. Together, we hope to create and exhibit work that brings our discoveries to new venues and new audiences, who are then inspired to join the collaboration with their work.
Our first task is to absorb what we have learned.
Then we make the work.
So excited to share our third day with you all! I am not going to be able to produce and upload these videos in real time, sorry! Jeane and I visited the hill of Uisneach. Rosemarie Langtry, an artist from Athlone generously organized this entire trip for us. We even got to spend the night in a yurt! (I didn’t know what a yurt was!)
The Hill of Uisneach has played a part in just about every significant Irish event, be it political, cultural, religious, mythological and geographical. The centre of Ireland in many ways, the enigmatic hill is one of the most sacred and historic sanctuaries in the world and a perfect place for Goddesses to meet and celebrate! What happens when artists, historians, druids and life coaches meet?! A fire festival!
Day 2 was a day of adventure! We went to Newgrange, an ancient neolithic site. Rich in ancient symbology, this site is located 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) west of Drogheda on the north side of the River Boyne. It was built around 3200 BC, making it older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.
Check out the video-
Please check out our video from day 1 !
Jeane and Sukanya leave in for Ireland portion of the Symbols and Stories project in fewer than six days. It’s a busy week. Holidays for Jeane, family preparation for Sukanya. Packing for both.
Each woman is a seasoned traveler. We can back a family for a week’s vacation in a day. Just us? A few hours. That’s for clothes and necessities. Each is taking art supplies, and that takes more careful selections.
The dates, late September, were chosen to fit enough time before major holidays for each. This week concludes the Days of Awe, the Jewish High Holy Days for Jeane. Yom Kippur is Wednesday. No packing or planning will happen from Sunday night through Thursday as Jeane prepares the house for the holiday, shops for the Break the Fast (Yom Kippur is a 25 hour fast from food, water, and just about everything except prayer and reflection), and observes the holiday.
In early October is Navratri, the Hindu celebration of Mother Goddess Durga, and lasts nine days.
The window was narrow.
Actually, immediately after Yom Kippur, about the time we land in Dublin, begins Jeane’s favorite holiday Sukkot, eight days of dwelling in a rickety booth and reflecting on ideas of charity, shelter, sustenance, and study, among other things. She hates to miss it but will find time to observe it somehow.
Part of this residency for Jeane is tapestry. Three looms were chosen, two of which are for Jeane’s work, one for community work. It is hoped that pieces will be added to the communal weaving from anyone who wants to participate.
A natural fiber, a blade of grass, special fabric, yarn — anything with means and a story is welcome to be added to the story and final work.
Looms aren’t enough, though. There has to be yarn to weave. Tapestry yarn is different from knitting yarn. For this project, single strand Faro was chosen. But there are 80 of so cakes from which choose?
Obviously, selections are made. It’s easier to decide whether to take that extra black pair of pants!
Please follow our travels & project at www.symbols-and-stories.com
As I am getting ready for my upcoming artist residency, I am working on Draupadi- The woman who was born from fire, the woman who was disrobed, the woman who vowed vengeance.
She was featured in the Mahabharata as a very important character. Here is the latest version of my artwork. I wanted emphasis on her hair, fire and her disrobing. I also wanted to convey her not being able to tell her story.