Living as a rural artist is challenging. Out here in County Waterford, we have to make our own fun as they used to say. We make everything up from scratch. Since leaving Framework the organisation I co-founded in 1994, I have had to review living out here in the middle of nowhere.
Of course it’s not the middle of nowhere if you are a farmer or a farm worker. Then you are right in the middle of somewhere. But as an artist it can be challenging. We have no access to public transport of any kind. We have to drive to Tramore the nearest town, 5 miles away to catch a bus. Or travel to Waterford to find networks and projects.
We can’t walk to a shop, a cinema, an art gallery. There are no outlets to sell art, no cafe to meet up, no public space for outdoor events. But all of us living out here, love it. We love the beauty, the hidden off the beaten track tranquility, the lifestyle.
We get cars, we travel to the nearest supermarkets an the Seagull Bakery. We can stock up on goodies, fill the freezer and generally grow a few basic fresh greens or spuds so we will never starve. An old habit of mine is to have a store cupboard of “just in case” supplies. Think we all do that out here.
When it snows like last winter, our lane will be totally cut off. When there is a storm, our electricity could be out for days. We have no bin collection, no mains water, no streetlights. But still we persist with rural life, living here in glorious isolation and beauty.
As part of my quest to negotiate this rural life, I have been exploring connecting with other artists and creatives who also live this quiet rural existence. First of all the online world has been a life saver. Twitter is my water cooler. Facebook is my network. Like minded souls pop up from all over the world, and from just around the corner.
One of the first lucky breaks I got off line was connecting with a small group of women who also want some more creative interaction and collaboration. We meet, chat, swim, walk and light fires in the woods. In our chats we decided to reach out to others and hosted the first Women’s Creative Cafe on the Copper Coast.
When I finally made the decision to jump into the next phase of my life it was a new and unknown country. In some ways I had been practicing it for many years. But working full time and making stuff full time makes for a very busy schedule. Crashing into the slow lane took a little bit of adjusting to.
Little did any of us know this time last year that Ireland would undergo an incredible democratic process to change our Constitution and allow free legal and safe abortion. This added stress to many women’s lives. I ended up amazed that even my small rural village where I vote returned a massive 74% in favour of the new legislation.
It’s been a while since I blogged but I’ve kept up my newspaper column in the News and Star where I penned 4 articles on the referendum and the personal issues around it. I hope my musings had some good effect. Waterford County had one of the highest Yes Votes in the country and one of the best campaign teams ever.
In other news I’ve been offered a solo exhibition as part of the Entente Floral, and International Flower Festival, in July. Next week I’m going to suss out the proposed venue to see how and what I will hang there. The Women’s Creative Cafe has been a runaway success for the Women’s Arts Circle and now after the labour pains subside we might plan another for the Autumn.
Rural life in Ireland is much more than the cliches we see portrayed. Hidden under the surface is a world of interesting humans which I am only beginning to properly explore. It’s not all just birds and bunnies…..
If you would like to attend our next Women’s Creative Cafe follow us on Facebook here
That word isolation resonates at the minute… Not altogether sure why… Maybe it’s the loneliness of scribbling, delighted the creative gathering was a succesd and well done on the articles, I’ve no doubt they helped
Catherine Drea says
I know Andrew it’s really important to find ways of connecting with creative types. The farmers have each other to chat to about cattle prices or whatever. A writers life can feel cut off. And yet we have to cut off to do our work? Finding a balance is the thing I suppose. Thanks for the support. Someday we must have a bloggers meet up and a good old chat about it all!!
gotham girl says
Wow Catherine. I had no idea how isolated you were and the challenges that come with! Always enjoy reading about your accomplishments! Keep up the great work!
Catherine Drea says
Hi Robin. Yea it’s only 5 miles from civilisation but still there’s no where to walk to. I often wonder if it’s possible to live here into ripe old age? But I am surrounded by older people doing just that. So as long as I am able to drive should be good! x
Maery Rose says
I’m so glad you have a group like this to gather with. Did you start the group? I’m not in such a deserted place population-wise but have failed to find a writer’s group in my area. The Women’s Art Circle sounds so great because it looks like creative play time and conversation rather than the more rigid format of most writer or artist groups. Maybe I could start something like that after I retire. A woman can have dreams…
Catherine Drea says
Hi Maery Rose. I guess one or two of us had the same idea at the same time. The group has emerged as a safe and playful place rather than a formal thing. I think we have a few things in common, mainly being nature loving creatives. We often think it’s a model for other women? As is the Creative Cafe idea which we are hoping can spread to other rural communities. Bit like Vision and Verb but offline!!!!
The hussle and bussle of rural life ….. sounds good to me….