First frost and final freedom

It's been a great year. One of the best. After years of campaigning for women's rights, I turned 60 and realised I could finally LIVE liberation rather than just hoping for it. 

What took me so long? What changed? 

Growing up in Ireland during a different era, we girls were rewarded for CARING. I wasn't too bad at it then, although I always knew it wasn't my first calling. The sacrifices of good girls would be rewarded. Good girls would be liked and cherished. Good girls would succeed in the world. Our caring of the world would heal and save humanity. 

I never really stopped being good or caring or anything. I just got old with it and some how saw the light of other possibilities. It is still a daily struggle to balance how MUCH I care.....and I genuinely DO care, with how much I want to run wild in the fields utterly CAREFREE. (Apologies for the shouty capitals but they seem to be required here) 

These are not regrets, because I know when we care, others thrive. These are wake up call messages to the inner girl child. It's OK to experience singularity, to be self absorbed, to be selfish with your time, to want to dream a little or even a lot. We can be CAREFREE and CAREFUL in equal measure. Instead of arguing about what kind of feminists we are, we can LIVE liberation. 

Whenever I walk through morning frost I am over come by girlish memories and the flame of the women who set out ahead of me on this path. Calamity Jane (Doris Day) riding the Wells Fargo Coach from Illinois, Jane Goodall studying chimpanzee behaviour in the Gombe Forest, Joni Mitchell's Song for Sharon where she poured her heart out...... again.....

Careful and carefree women grasping their freedom to LIVE their liberation......


Sentinel ~ the first midweek image feature

I sometimes stand in the farmyard at the lake waiting for the Robin. Truth is she prefers a dung heap to a bird table so this is where I will always encounter her. Early in the morning, later in the evening it doesn't matter, she will always appear.  Chipping and ducking in that bolshy way, or maybe singing in the crook of a branch.

As long as I wait she comes. It's her space not mine. This she makes clear. 

In spite of each other, we are used to sharing it now....... 

(Welcome to this first mid-week image feature where I am going to highlight a favourite photo from the Archives every week, I hope you enjoy it)


You can't use up creativity the more you use, the more you have

It was Maya Angelou who said" You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." 

When I began on this path coming up to four years ago, it didn't seem so. Perhaps I would over share my precious resource? Maybe I would bore myself and everyone else with my excitement at the beauty I was finding the ordinariness of my surroundings?

Rest assured this is not what has happened and so it is unlikely ever to happen to you either. Instead of running out of creativity I have found that my energy and focus has increased over time. I sometimes have to look back at my first post to remind myself how far I have come. 

And yet there are a lot of challenges. I am now 60 and I sometimes look ahead and wonder how exactly I am going to find enough time to complete what I am setting out to do? How can I use the time I have most efficiently? How I can earn enough to support the plans I am hatching?

So I am here drawing mind maps and lists. Instead of shrinking my inner life I am growing it. Instead of winding down my effort I am revving up! My mind will blow right out of my head or something one of these days!! 

At the beginning of 2014 I chose the word Pilgrimage. I went on a bit of a wander, both internally and externally. I both travelled out there beyond my comfort zone and yet I have locked myself up in this room and worked. Now I know where I am going next.

I am beginning to hear a new word being spoken in my head and my heart and soul seem to be listening and perking right up.......

For more meanderings along the creative path check out my little book preview here 

If you love warm colours check out the Autumn Gallery Slideshow here


The photography book GIVE AWAY results

Before the sun sets I am going to pull a name from the bag and announce the winner of a signed copy of the book. It's another first for me, a first ever Give Away.  I have finally put my toe into the book selling world and I can honestly say that shop keeping is a humbling experience. Some people are very good at it and I take my hat off to them. I still struggle with the idea of selling at all, but am determined to keep going and find any number of ways to support my creativity. 

I spent the rest of today making a 5 print order for this image. I was thrilled with the result and now they on their way to a happy home in Kildare. It is the beginning of a new direction for me and next year I will develop more of these techniques layering photography with paint and texture. Busy but happy....

The Give Away process has been fun. I decided to do it the low tech way and wrote each name on a cut up piece of paper and put it in a bag. My son pulled out the winning name at 4.30. 

AND the winner is Margaret from County Tipperary. Margaret is also a blogger at A Year in Redwood and will receive a signed copy of Seek light, embrace shade, live colour" PLUS a selection of seasonal cards. Congratulations Margaret just send me on your address via the contact page.

We enjoyed so much pulling out the names from the hat that I decided to offer two runners up a free download of the book. So congratulations to the next two drawn, firstly a woman called Beth and then Amanda Peters who lives in Leeds in the UK. Again please contact me with your email address and I will forward you a link to the download of the book. 

Thank you all so much for taking part!


The Foxglove Lane shop is open!

There is an undeniable cosiness about to envelop us as we turn away from the sun, but the long evenings are a challenge at the best of times. It sometimes feels like we are going deeper into a dark wood with the glow of summer fading behind us. Slowly we will make our way along an overgrown path towards the light of a new year. 

And yet today this walk through the forest is beautiful. The November sun creates perfect shadows, filtering through the branches, spotlighting small details on leaves and grasses. Mysteriously these months, while a challenge to the soul, are ideal for photography. 

The seasonal feast which is the Irish Christmas will break up the winter nicely and here in the studio the elves are working overtime already! This year I have a number of special gift options in the shop and to avail of these on time for the holiday you need to order in November.

Yes folks, the Foxglove Lane Shop is now open and the dark evenings are a perfect time to browse!

The book

Do you have strategies to bring light and energy into your life and work? I write about finding inspiration in my first little picture book "Seek light, embrace shade and live colour" A perfect gift to introduce some one to Ireland and to following the creative path. You can buy the hardback book here for 30 euros or  download the book for 3.99 

Prints and cards 

Cards and prints are available here This year you can buy unlimited editions at a special price as the printing part is outsourced to a specialist firm of printers. All of the images on my site are available so pick out your own favourites and have them delivered anywhere in the world. 

Prints (8"x12") start at only 7 euros. 
Cards (5" x7") are 4.25 each or 10 for only 25 euros

Gift tokens

I also offer Gift Tokens they start at 25 Euros. Contact me directly to arrange. A good option if you want to avoid deadline panics! 

Also if you prefer, I can print and sign any image for you here in the studio. Mounted prints start from 25 euros +postage. Again just contact me.


Photography tricks and treats for Halloween

It started with images of autumn leaves floating in the murky waters of the lake. 

Already layered and textured, I added the photo of myself standing, half turned in the archway. Then the little lantern plants and the meditating rabbit. 

Happy Halloween my dear old pals. There are lots more photography tricks and treats you can make here on www.picmonkey.com 

PS And there is still time to add your name here to the book Give Away


Just before they fall apart

Just before they die off for the winter they have their most spectacular show. Faded edges, crinkled old flowers, their faces a little worse for wear.

The October sun catches them in their last glory. Having been down this path before, I know there will be one more beautiful phase as the papery petals fall off those spiny bones and the skeleton appears.

They will turn all spidery and golden first. And then they will fall apart and wither into the earth. Wrinkly, lined and speckled.

Sounds like some one I know.

Remember to be in with a chance to get a signed copy of the little book and a selection of cards leave a comment here  And if it was you who bought 2 copies of the book on Sunday 12th October please contact me!

Browse more in the Petals gallery here


Being creative in the dark

It's getting darker and these are challenging times. I see it every day in my work with NGOs. The current lack of funding allows very little wriggle room for creativity and it's getting harder to stay upbeat about the future.

I also notice that every time I put my latest work out there in the world, it feels like I might slip right off the edge of my comfort zone and end up barely clinging on by the finger nails. There is so much vulnerability in self promotion and exposure, especially in this time of austerity and lack of opportunity.

There's a conflict going on inside my head as to why it can feel so perilous, and whether this is even worth mentioning? It goes with the territory I know and that's probably why my little book is about staying on the creative path and not throwing the towel in completely!

For November I wrote

" I am becoming ages older and deeper. I am no longer afraid of the dark. It is part of the deepening taking place in the creative process. Not to be avoided or feared anymore." 

The act of creating and sharing your art (or any creative project), is such an act of courage that it would be impossible to avoid some moments of exposure and uncertainty.  So there is no alternative to putting one foot in front of the other and living in colour to the bitter end. While it's not a matter of life and death, sometimes when we find ourselves having to embrace the shadows it can feel like it......

So to celebrate the wonder of creativity and the launch of my first little book I have a GIVE AWAY competition! The winner will get a signed copy of the book "Seek light, embrace shade and live colour" along with a selection of cards from the collection. The announcement will be made here in three weeks on Sunday November 9th.

All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment on the book page here. The winner will be drawn at random. GOOD LUCK!!


On making a book in the presence of butterflies

I have just put my first little book out there into the world!

I started the book back in Greece when I had a "studio" space with a view and free wifi as long as I bought a glass of wine and a few nibbles. (OK, yes it was a bar on the beach!) Most evenings I would sit there screening Instagram photos and figuring out how to bring them together. 

Gradually, the story of what got me here and why the creative path is an exciting choice for any one to make, began to emerge. It became a celebration of beginning on that path, continuing, stumbling and beginning again. A process of phases and seasons, challenges and triumphs.

The book also follows the year in Ireland and how the seasonal cycles reflect in our work. Over time and with a couple of sample drafts in the post from Blurb, the tweaking and editing finally had to stop; the hardest part of all. I called it "Seek light, embrace shade, live colour" which sums up both my photographic aspirations and my take on life!

For two weeks now I have been laid up with flu and bronchitis and for some reason butterflies have been appearing around me as if from nowhere. One landed on my wooly jumper and looked up at me. That little face gave me more support than any mentor could. Because every step along the creative path requires steadfast courage, a whole lot of it and I realised that's what the little book is all about.....

So there will be no fancy launch. Just a gentle breeze to carry the this little book or download to you, where ever you are. 

I would love you to have a peek at the preview of the book here and may it be a companion to you on your creative path wherever it may be taking you!


Embracing shade

During the summer of 1975 when I was on the road with an architect, a singer, an uileann piper and a gypsy guitarist, we diverted from lucrative street performing in Germany to visit Scandinavia. We travelled in a green VW van which had been gifted to us one night during a dinner party in the home of an academic from Alabama. (I promise I will tell more about this part of the story at a later stage!)

Anyway, when we reached Stockholm, there was a debacle with the police who were not too keen on our celtic art and the old Irish come-all-ye's.  A young woman came forward to assist and she ended up inviting us to stay in her small flat. She confided in us that her partner had just passed away and she was going through the whole funeral and burial process during those few weeks.

I am remembering her because of a recent visit to a World Heritage Site Skogskyrkogarden in Stockholm which is actually a grave-yard unlike any I have ever seen. Tiny tomb stones set in 102 acres of mature forest, light filtering through the pines, paths directing you towards the key devotion points. A place of peace for the dead and the living.

Reflecting Swedish sensibilities about equality, there are rules to be abided by; green burials, flowers only in certain places, open plan spacious communities of graves, secular spaces for rituals. The overall effect is of quiet order and beauty, a place of sanctuary and respect.

And yet when I think back to that young woman in her lonely grief I remember how confused we were by the lack of a wake, the absence of ham sandwiches and beer, of callers, neighbours, family. The chaotic week long family occasion that is the typical Irish funeral. She seemed to be isolated except for ourselves.

As I get older and explore more the rituals and shrines we create, I have come to understand the importance of choice in death and dying. Where and how we are buried is part of that. I know I won't belong in a conventional graveyard myself....if it even matters at that stage! So bury me in a bio-degradable mushroom suit, or send me off in a blaze of flames and scatter my ashes where they will add some nourishment to the earth. 

See also an earlier post on the mushroom burial suit here

Thank you dear friends for your kind wishes! Yes, I won the Best Photography Blog for the second year in a row. After the initial delight all I could say to himself was....how am I going to keep this up? A touch of performance anxiety maybe which like all my other short comings I will choose to ignore!! 

Next week the little book will be on sale, so watch this space.