These images show the progress of another painting for the NYC submission. I’ve worked with the original watercolour) painted in NYC enroute back to Ireland after Ecuador, with a very different end product. For this painting I was using acrylics on canvas and working at a much smaller scale… and with the added pressure; the hope that it may be chosen to be exhibited in NYC.
I’ve been working on submission pieces for an upcoming show in NYC.. here are progress images of a piece that started life as a small water colour that was inspired by the people of the rainforest in Ecuador.
“Sinéad’s work is poetic and visually striking. It is also clear once seeing her work, her love of material, (whether it is wax or clay or metal) her joy in expressing through experimentation and allowing process to develop alongside her own personal ideas. It speaks to you on many levels. There is suggestion of aerial views of faraway landscapes and also at the same time, images from within the body.”
Vivian Hansbury – Sculptor
So I’ve been working with a lovely group in Malahide to design a bronze relief for St Sylvester’s Church and community centre. The piece was finished earlier this month and installed outside St Sylvester’s. Big thanks to BronzeArt for all their great work in casting the piece, preparing, patination, finishing and installing. You can see the piece if you go to Malahide on the DART; take a left at the gate of the station, St Sylvester’s church is just next-door to the station and you can see the relief between the 4 pleached trees in front of the church.
While in Llanachamacocha in Ecuador, with the Sapara people our group went for a hike one day to the top of a local sacred (and slippery) mountain. We climbed the steep muddy slopes in wellington boots trying not to grab onto anything having been told that there are poisonous snakes and ants in the area and plenty of plants that could be harmful to touch. It made for an interesting climb and interspersed with nuggets of information about the medicine of the various plants that we were seeing along the way and stories of the local wind god Paratu we were kept alert, educated and entertained.
At the top we were each brought to a different small clearing in the forest and given some large leaves to sit on. There we got a chance to spend time on our own in the forest. This sounds like a simple thing.. and of course it is. But after being introduced to so many different plant insect and bird species along with footprints of tapirs and the local call of monkeys we were very aware of how incredibly ALIVE the forest is.
I settled myself on my large leaves to meditate. And I began to slowly look around and really take in this forest, without any sign or sound of other humans. There were sounds of many insects and bugs.. many types of which paid me a visit… most were welcome… some bothered me and others I was suspicious of…. not knowing their capacity to sting or bite but I figured that if I sat relatively still and caused no harm to them they would most likely cause no harm to me… and that was the case. I don’t know how long I sat there but I felt a deep sense of aliveness in me and at the same time enormous respect for this tremendous and thriving aliveness all around me. Being in the forest my senses felt heightened… I felt more human.. I felt more alive and all around me were reminders of birth and death and everything in between. I was reminded while I was there of how fragile I was as a human brought up in ‘the west’. My pale skin and soft feet were not made for exposure to the elements of the forest and all the leaves and vines looked unfamiliar to me and indistinguishable from one another. The Sapara work with over 2000 different species of plants for healing…. and I didn’t know even one of them. So as I sat there I decided to get to know one of these plants; a beautiful spiralling sculpted vine…I painted it and then drew it a scarlet red spiralling companion… the image felt like a welcoming dance between the vine and the unique part of me that really was at home here..
I’ve attached an image of the original painting made while meditating and then the progression of that image so far as I paint it now at a larger scale back home. Also I’ve attached few photos from that day: showing our wonderful friend Manari guiding us, an image of some wonderfully coloured turkey eggs that were found abandoned and a view from the mountain as we descended back to Llanachamacocha.
The forest is so wonderfully abundant in life and medicine and mystery and the Pachamama Alliance are working hard with the people of the forests of Ecuador to protect the forests from oil exploration, which would be the death nell for the balance of life in the forest. You can help protect the forest from oil exploration by supporting the Pachamama Alliance (the organisation with which I travelled to the forest of South Eastern Ecuador with).
While I was still in Llanachamacocha in the rainforest in Ecuador in January of this year I made a quick little water colour sketch: it was an image of a woman that I had seen in a dream the night before. She stood in front of an elaborate green doorway and she peered our of a green haze of light. She asked me “Do you want to go through the door? Do you trust me enough?” In my dream I said I did … but then I got distracted and never got to see what was behind the door. The ephemeral quality of the image in my mind was difficult to capture but I tried with water colour… and it caught something of what I had seen, but the woman’s questions and the image of her face stayed in my mind..and I wondered what was behind the door.
In March this year I decided to recreate this image at a larger scale in gouache paints.. so I sketched it out in charcoal on a 2m high 1.5m wide sheet and began to paint. The initial sketches felt ugly and clunky and didn’t at all capture the image of the woman’s face that I had seen in my dream so as I do, I left the painting for a while and came back to it. I came back to it and it improved a bit but I still failed to capture the essence of this woman and her question. I have come back to this painting over and over again.. and that is not an easy task when working with water based paint.. this exploration would have been easier working in oil..
So today I decide to give it one last shot.. but to my dismay still I have not come close to capturing this woman in any meaningful way.
A question I don’t usually have to ask myself when I’m painting is “Is it finished?”, I just know when it is. With this painting .. I don’t feel that its finished … but I don’t feel that the paper can take anymore layers of paint!
So I have put together some of the images that have appeared as I’ve painted… I have to say that I do like some of the details that I took from today’s last layer of paint…
After the paint dries though.. the painting comes down off the wall.. I feel disappointed to be ‘giving up on it’ as i don’t feel that its finished.. Each image that I paint teaches me something of what it is to let go and trust that what needs to emerge … so here is what emerged…
I’ve been having a lot of fun over the last few months playing with twigs and branches; forming swirls and bundles for Arc of time and pressing them into clay as part of my exploration for the plaque in Malahide. I recently finished off some jewellery-like pieces that evolved as part of these explorations.
I really wanted these pieces to be individual little gems and I’m very pleased with how they’ve worked out. I’m playing now with how to display them using the twigs that were used to form them….as though the twigs wear the jewellery.
This is link to a recent little article I wrote about my journey into the rainforest in Ecuador with the Pachamama Alliance.
..I was random searching images on line today and came across a review of my exhibition last August in Exchange. You can have a look here: http://marybattlebury.blogspot.ie/2013/08/the-exchange.html
The journey to Ecuador seems to be on my mind all of the time.. the gifts of the journey keep on coming. This is a little collection of some of the sketches I made from the images that arose before the journey, leaving Dublin on the ferry, my time in Ecuador and then the images arising since coming home.. along with some of my finished larger paintings.