Catherine Drea is a visual artist, writer and blogger who lives and works in rural County Waterford. Catherine writes a column called As I See It for the Waterford News & Star and her first book Solace-life, loss and the healing power of nature, was published in the Autumn of 2022 by The O’Brien Press.
A graduate of the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) and University College Cork (UCC), she has worked as a graphic designer, an art teacher and a group facilitator. After 10 years of part time teaching and raising three boys, she trained as an Integrative Psychotherapist, completed a Masters and co-founded Framework-building ethical leadership and practice with Glynis Currie. Over the years, Framework developed creative methodologies, inclusive facilitation, training and set up and supported community and equality based projects in Ireland.
In 2010, after the economic crisis, Catherine and the Framework team began working from home. Daily walks, camera in hand spurred her on to start her blog Foxglove Lane, musing about solitude, life and creativity. Catherine has since won four Irish Blog Awards, including Best Photography Blog in 2018 and a Silver Award in the Open House/Architectural Journal Competition, London. In 2017 she left Framework to pursue her own work. Her exhibition with Kate Quinn, From seed to blossom, from blossom to fruit was part of Waterford Imagine Festival that year.
A lifelong activist, Catherine has been a campaigner in a number of social movements over the years. She remains a passionate advocate of equality, biodiversity and the healing power of creativity. She shares a couple of wild acres with her Right Hand Man and has three grown up sons.
On a rainy Sunday in 2011 I began to blog. I called it Foxglove Lane after the spectacular wild flowers that bloom here every summer. I began anonymously and temporarily, until eventually about a year later I put my name to it. I’m still here!
Blogging was literally a continuation of what I had been doing since I was tiny. Filling copybooks with poems, collecting rose petals and snails in the hedgerows, scratching pictures on the wall above my bed. It combines many of the things I like to play with. It feels like freedom. There is no other agenda.
I got my first pocket camera at the age of 10 and turned to making portraits of the family, the kids and animals I knew. Every roll of 12 black and white shots, was eked out over weeks until they were sent away to be printed as tiny, 2 inch square images. I’ve taken photographs ever since, snared by the alchemy. Photography is rich with creative possibilities.
While nothing much seems to happen down this long boreen, at some level absolutely everything happens! Observation through the camera lens opens up possibilities to see more deeply. How light reveals the mood of the day, how the smallest beings live and where, how trees shelter each other and the land. Photography captures fleeting moments in time, even as they pass into memory.
The rhythms of nature keep my feet on the ground but I also struggle with the unfathomable beauty of this planet and how close we are to the loss of it. Everyday I witness some small death, another piece at the edge of extinction. It’s a high wire balancing act; one foot on this tranquil green island and one foot in the global chaos.
- Exhibition From seed to blossom, from blossom to fruit as part of Waterford Imagine Festival in October 2017
- Photography as memory project. A group exploration as part of the Bealtaine Festival in collaboration with the Garter Lane Arts Centre. You can view a slideshow of the process here. May 2017
- Board Member Waterford Healing Arts Trust 2017
- Collaborations with Artist Roisin Sheehy, including her book of poetry Líomódí ‘s Rúbarb, Casadh and for Feile na Bealtaine, An Bean a Chuireadh Crainn
- Fortnightly column in the Waterford News and Star called As I see it.
- With the Women’s Circle a Women’s Creative Cafe, check it out here.
- Bealtaine Festival 2018, in collaboration with Garter Lane and the Waterford Women’s Centre, photography workshop May 2018.
- Women’s Creative Cafe as part of the Well Festival 13th October 2018 6-9 PM in the Granary Cafe.
- Foxglove Lane Studio, Gold Award for Best Photography Blog in the Irish Blog Awards 2018.
- Group Exhibition, She stood in a storm, Rogue Gallery, Waterford. November 2018
- Contributor to The Silence 2020
- Contributor (2020) to Trasna
- Chairperson Waterford Healing Arts
- Facilitator Well Festival event We haven’t had an Earthquake lately
- The Foxglove Lane website and blog are now part of the Web Archive of the National Library of Ireland
- Talking about SOLACE and witches on this Irish radio documentary The County Measure
- My new book SOLACE will be published in September 2022 by The O’Brien Press and available on most online booksellers.