Winter sets in and the elves are pretty busy....

Winter has set in and I am now counting the weeks until the Solstice and the gradual return of light. In the dark evenings I burn candles to cheer our hearts, cosy up with a blanket and find I am craving chocolate!

On waking, I love the silvery glow and a particular kind of stillness that announces another frosty morning. Blue sky icy days have me leaping out of bed, and I am by no means a morning person!

Hibernation may be here for some but myself and the elves are pretty busy in the Foxglove Lane Print Gallery! My first year of this venture is still a steep learning curve and thanks to all of you shoppers I have learned a few more tricks of the trade. Next year I hope to be more established and to have fuller creative control over each product. I have been experimenting with printers, products, papers, processes and while it has been mind boggling it has allowed me to keep prices down while I find my feet. I am no where near happy yet with my progress........there is so much more to learn and share.......but I'm getting there and making plans......

Meanwhile if you fancy a bit of Christmas gift  browsing check out the Seasonal Greeting Cards and the Print Gallery all delivered anywhere in the world! One or two people have had problems accessing the PayPal page so if this happens to you please contact me as I can offer another payment method.

Thanks to all of you who have sent me photos of the prints, framed and in your homes. I will make a collage and post on Facebook. Keep them coming!

But for now it's back to the busy Christmas workshop for me and my imaginary elves......


It's dark, late and time is running out....

It's dark, it's late and the November evening light is seeping away. We had no summer and now out of season, a patch of hedgerow is coming back into bloom. While hoping to snap berries and rosehips, here I am taking dark photos of blackberry blossoms and buds. Sprinkles of life in the shadowy withering tangle....

Late blooming is not about perfection. How could it be? It's far too last minute for that, not enough sun, not enough heat. Time is running out. It's more about getting away with it. Basking in the opportunity. Snatching the limelight when all the early bloomers have faded out.

These thorny bushes will never bear the fruit they missed out on. They bloom for no one, programmed to complete the cycle of life.

The shutter closes like the blink of an eye.

Every last November second counts double for a late bloomer.  Half light, dark light, any light, snatched, snapped and wallowed in......

Browse the Dark November Gallery here


The beauty of the web......

After a year of blogging anonymously I agonised over the decision to "go public." It was then I realised that anonymity was not only my shyness, it was also the fear of not being good enough. Self expression and openness was totally discouraged by most of my teachers as self indulgent, navel gazing, trite, cliched, passé, twee, and every other put down you could imagine. The surprising thing is that an art school education fully endorsed this too. Art school criticism can be very harsh and too many of us learn to play it safe there in order to get through the course and get out with our degree and our dignity intact!

Later as a teacher I could see first hand the way students were often pigeon holed early on in their studies and were there to be educated out of their bad habits. Exploring your heart and soul in creative work or aiming to be successful as an artist seemed to be reserved for a select few. While I also love "art" at that level, there has to be more space for other kinds of imaginative production. I now believe that creativity is a tender flower which thrives better in a child like world of wonder and play, than in the narrow strictures of academic criteria.

Has this changed? Recently I told a friend how art college far from the liberation and exploration you might imagine can be tough especially for young women. She told me that her daughter who completed her art school education a few years ago has never fully recovered from the loss of confidence she suffered as a result of "only being good enough for a design course" as opposed to "fine art!"

One of the many positive aspects of a blogging life is the culture of generous feedback. The community are both personally creative and supportive to others. Because the web has been a positive space to share, and engage with other creatives, I eventually took the risk of going public and was gradually able to reclaim my face, my name and my creative space.

On a recent visit to a new local museum, I was astonished to find only two references to roles played by women; nuns who handmade stunning golden vestments for priests, and wives, cooks or maids and what they served up for dinner!! In years to come I think women's creativity will be encapsulated by present day female bloggers who have given voice to a more diverse and liberated world view.

There's something about the web which women utilise particularly well. It knits us closer together through daily connecting, we can exhibit our creative work within our own control and we can celebrate and share more of our inner lives. Delicate, feminine, strong, beautiful........and downright exciting to be part of.....

From my post on Vision and Verb a global gathering.


Still so much to breathe in.....

It sometimes looks as if nothing is happening. That things are static or might even be deteriorating. The Irish winter is drawing in.

The tiny windows to my soul, are squinting into the lack of light, trying to distinguish the blades of grass, trying to tell the mucky water from the mucky ducks.

Our winters are not white or dramatic. They are slow and grey and sparse.

But the layers are peeling back and the barest open spaces are revealing life at the heart of the wetlands. Flashes of colour against the fading fields, slivers of light picking up a twitching tail feather.

The hare ambles into view. For a moment he sits, lost in a trance of hare thoughts. Then his strong legs propel him forward again. We are not just waiting for it to be over. There is still so much to breathe in.



The swans are back on the lake for the winter. Just one pair, they come every year.

I have to go deeper into the forest to glimpse them up close. At first they are hidden by the reeds but as I step into the water they stir and swim towards me, elegantly posing side by side.

They mate for life. As I have.

My mate is building a wall. He faces the sun which warms his hands on the cold stones. Blissfully happy out in the air, away from the writing and the issues he wrestles with in the world of change.

We glide past each other in opposite directions. We chat. He talks to me about stones. He points out dozens of seagulls coming in to wash in the lake. He speaks of weather fronts coming in from the north and searches the sky for blue patches.

I talk to him about creative struggles. Should I explore a new location? Will I begin to tweak my photos a bit more? Maybe I need to alter my workspace?

Later he is on his way to empty the kitchen bins. One for cooked food one for uncooked. He is meticulous about this. I am the one who messes it up..... all the time. As he passes he puts an arm around me and says my name.........with such enthusiasm! I laugh. His mucky old hat is askew on his head. His grubby old jacket dusty from the stones.

I have heard stories about love. About mating for life. About swans who live in peace all their lives.

And now I phone him from the forest. "The swans are back again!" And I know that he, the one who holds the key to my heart, is cheered by this ordinary piece of news in a way that only he would be..........

You can buy these images here


An unlikely pair of romantics

The evening light is warm as toast casting long terracotta shadows on the woodland grasses.

The Robin is back! The bare branches allow me to follow him along the track.  But mostly he is following me, popping up ahead, appearing when least expected, and looking at me....I'm sure of it....

She is up ahead walking with her 5 dogs. Now in her late 70's she only goes to the top of the first hill and back, very slowly. She likes to stretch her legs in the evenings glow.

We talk about sheep, dogs, cats, rats. Rats are the big topic today, we both detest them. All my fear and darkness bubbles to the surface when I see one. It can ruin my day. I tell her how I was walking through the forest and one was sunning himself BRAZENLY outside his home. Although charming in a "country rat" kind of way, I couldn't pretend, he just made me shudder.....

You should have a dog she says, they can be great ratters......

She has no romance for this place. She saw too much misery in it. Until she married well enough to a small farmer she didn't have the luxury of a bathroom or a stove. This whole place was full of cottages and houses once, before the Famine times, the few local children now play in the ruins.

We layer year upon year. The past doesn't go away. We resurface it and call it a fresh start.

I'm a romantic I say to her. Look at me taking pictures of sun beams and raindrops.

She laughs. Well you might be, but I'm a doting old thing when it comes to dogs. I haven't an ounce of sense....I have them all spoiled.....

Today I have discovered that we are a pair of romantics and we have more in common than I once thought............isn't that always the way.......