It’s been a while, my friends. To be honest I have been quite overwhelmed by the preparation, building and opening of the exhibition. When people ask me if I’m delighted by how successful it has been? Honest to my dying breath, I have to partially disappoint by whinging about how damn hard it all was!!
I can laugh at myself to some degree. A shrinking violet who is constantly banging on about women’s visibility in the arts, in politics, in the world gets her comeuppance; by actually being visible, big, colourful, feminine! While everything inside screams….tone it down a bit and who the hell do you think you are…..the bold part of me goes ahead anyway and celebrates presence, on a grand scale.
Where will I start. There are so many stories to be told. Let me start at the end and work backwards. It might take a few weeks!!
Today I got a letter in the post from an old stalworth colleague and feminist. It was a beautiful poignant love letter about being our age, about the long road we have come, about saying goodbye. Aren’t I going to be in the goodbye zone for the rest of my life now? Anyway this woman is one of the best and most committed you could meet. Like so many of my vintage, she is a Mum, Grandmother and dedicated worker, to the last.
I immediately reached for Jacqueline Du Pre (for some exquisite sadness) and sat down on the floor stunned by this kindness. And this is what connection means and why we have big bold exhibitions and say, here I am, this is what I feel, what I am. This scary move to be in this huge space with my work, has brought about all kinds of special moments. Expressing love through intimacies with the natural world has enhanced human connection too.
It is essentially women who seem to be drawn into what it all means. To see beneath the surface. To understand the emotion and the vulnerability in these images. But there have been men too. The one who shook my hand and said thank you, you have made my day. The one who pushed his toddler’s buggy right up to the images and let her enjoy the full impact of the colour. The photographer who chatted to me about printing and how much he loved my surprising photographs.
So today I am stopping and sitting with it all. Just for a few hours because like all of us I have other work to attend to. Tomorrow I pick up a convalescing elderly relative from a nursing home and try to help her re-establish an independent life at the age of 92. I need to go to the supermarket and replenish stocks. There are clothes to be washed. Life to be lived.
On the night of the opening I kept saying that I was having an out of body experience. Disconnected. That’s how far out my comfort zone I was.
But people saw it, and just stepped in!
My three amazing sons seamlessly took over the sales department, the bar and the video. Himself was supportively rushing around doing last minute bits and bobs. My wonderful women friends did their thing; organising, creating atmosphere with candles, smiling all the way. My sister presented Kate and myself with dreamy bouquets. So many kind friends came from near and far, glowing with warmth and support.
There were others behind the scenes too. People I totally forgot to thank on the night. And the Granary. That’s for another post.
And above all, Lani O Hanlon who opened the exhibition with such insight and creativity. She listened carefully, holding the heart and soul of what myself and Kate Quinn were trying to create. She spoke about each of us and our work. She responded powerfully with her own poem. When Lani is in the room you think, here is someone with both feet joyfully planted on Mother Earth. A gift.
I keep saying it will all take time to sink in. If you are in Waterford drop in to the Granary Cafe, have a cuppa and enjoy the exhibition!! And keep doing one of the most important things we can, getting connected to nature and each other…..
You can browse the final exhibition selection here