Some further photos from my return to the Forest, this time deeper within the shrubbery and depths of the forest where much of the melting snow only reaching the very tops of the tree arches high above and open areas not secluded by the pines and firs. I particularly notice those grooves notched into the earth where stumps of previous trees once laid and where the dirt was laid higher along trenches for the planting of the tree life. The snow from the other side of the neighbouring land not having trees dotted on every inch but instead wide open meant that the brilliant white light of the snow penetrated through to our forestry – adding a white rim light like ghostly frozen fog to the already ominous scene and highlighting those curvy, warped grooves of the tree linings, trunks and tendrils. Pointing and staring towards the direction of the neighbouring snow makes the scene feel like an angelic view of a world not far from reach and one that you cannot help but float blindly towards, the many seemingly empty holes in the ground from badgers and foxes makes you wonder if they have come-hither towards the light too.
Castle Hackett is a mountainous area that overlooks the westerly emerald green of Ireland and is teaming with folklore, heritage and history. We walked up the crispy frost ridden Knockma mountain taking in the the dewy landscape paying close attention to the brightly coloured little fairy doors nestled into the grooves of many of the windy twisted trees, the minuscule doors an offering and an opening to the fairies that are housed in the whimsical area.
I was in awe at the greenery that sheltered us like canopies over head, made only more impressive by the glistening frost that coated the little details within the mountains flora.
And where a rather confident, cubby ball of a little robin was more than happy for me to get close enough for a photo op
As we started to make our way to the peak of the mountain an opening in the wall was lit with golden hour orange where I was blinded momentarily from the light, my eyes only adjusting when I seen the view laid before me…
Castle Hacketts history and folklore is abundant, there is tombs or cairns around Knockma mountain where the owners of Castle Hackett are buried and lined with ritual significance. The fairy king Finvarra is the king of the Daoine Sidhe which translates from Gaeilge to “People of the mounds” and was a leader of The Eos Sí pronounced “ees shee” which is the term for the supernatural race and world in Irish Mythology. His wife Queen Maeve is also buried inside the Knockma mountain in a similar cairn.
They are both buried apparently upright so even in death they can look over the castle in the distance. Castle Hackett house was used as a place of refuge for horses to remedy their ailments in the many indoor swimming pools that the mansion had, the mansion now a story short of its original 3 from a fire started in the Irish Civil War.
I love learning about Irelands rich heritage and folklore, they never felt like old wives tales to me when it was drilled into us by our Grannies and Grandads to “never fuck with a fairy tree”. We were told of one particular story where a woman trying to warm her family in the bitter winter chopped up a fairy tree to add as fuel for the fire, The fairy tree recoiled from the fire, burning the woman’s leg initially and leaving the house and children left as nothing but ash. They might seem cute but rather devious if harmed. Never fuck with the fairy folk. If you would like to learn more about the history of Castle Hackett you can do so be following this link
I have been really enjoying painting with Gouache, it is a creative practice that energises me, puts me in the zone and fuels me. I think it’s because with every pigmented brush stroke I switch off for a while and end up feeling more grounded and productive to keep on trucking with other projects in the works. I think I needed a little bit of something different, a bit of oomph, a bit of something to physically get my hands and desk dirty and this has been the key, that along with the transcending coos of Goldfrapp is a proper match. The last painting in this bunch being a quick painting study of Castle Hackett Hill where I spent a day back in Ireland high on the mountain overlooking the haunted Castle Hackett mansion veering below, more on that soon.
I promised I would return to this enchanted forest this Winter after reliving the memories that this forest holds with a recent kick about reflecting on the words of Robert Frost. I did return to the forest when we got a dumping of snow and I relished in all its sensory overload.
As I was editing these pictures I could hear the birds, I can feel the clean air through the bristles of my beard, I can hear the sound of melting snow dropping from the Spruce’s above into a water filled trench below, I can feel myself watching the water ripple as the drippings lapped the forest colours in a mesmerising kaleidoscope, I could feel the snow squelch beneath my boots as I walked further and further. I could feel it all as if the images from my laptop imploded into a projection around my room in an augmented reality of memories and senses.
This is where you do lockdown right, how you spend your time correctly in a worldwide pandemic. In a place and surroundings that don’t feel like it has been gripped by the turmoil of Miss Rona. It doesn’t feel like anything is starkly different here because in all reality, it isn’t. It is untouched and it always will be. I miss the sheer joy on my dogs faces as they jumped with glee to see that I was taking out the leash from the shed to go on another daily adventure. I miss my neighbours allowing me to hop over the fence in their yard and trudge through the shite in my wellies to find mini universes iced over in the ponds and lakes that weave amongst the surplus of trees. I miss the smells, I miss the air, I miss the peace. I miss it.
I have been itching to do some traditional art for a change to my usual digital Art, spurred from painting and drawing with my nieces and nephew during the Christmas break. Here is some initial paintings using gouache, The first two being concept art pieces from the Game Firewatch which I haven’t played and don’t really play games anymore, but loving the colourful art from this game I gave it a bash. The last image being a quick one of birch trees before I washed away the drying leftover paint. I choose Gouache as the medium because I like that its similar to watercolour but much more pigmented and having never used it before it is a learning curve in which I am really enjoying the process, with landscapes always being my favourite subjects to paint.
I think it is good to switch things up and try new approaches and although I find it harder with traditional art to simply let go and loosing up, I think with practice I will get to a point where things are hinted at and more gestural with blocky colours and suggestive brush strokes, The last image of the birch trees was very enjoyable because it was in the wee hours of the morning, I was tired and just wanted to get rid of the paint so it was very quick and gestural. Eventually I would like to make prints and use the many inspiring photos I took as reference while back in Ireland and here’s hoping I will make prints of those photo’s too! I think we live in a time for creatives where you might need to get thrifty and monetise your hobbies to help make ends meet, So we’ll see…
I feel spoiled that I was able to experience the snow that settled around the Emerald Isle while I was back home and now I got to experience it in the concrete Jungle that is London. A pattern began to emerge where unbeknownst to me I started to find red amongst the white snow while getting lost in boroughs and roads I have not seen before.
A previous Kick About saw me reflect upon the uncanny nature distilled around my Dads basement with all its cellar dweller spiders and porcelain dolls. This same peculiar feeling residing in an old creaky house that has always felt under construction and will never be finished transpires throughout its mammoth 4 floors.
I stayed at my dads house in Ireland one night when the show was falling like thick ashes and as me and my brother drove to my Dads looking towards the blinding kaleidoscope of falling snow, I knew the thick snow was going to up the ante and stillness of my Dads with it feeling like a cotton blanket of insulation that quietens all. The fountain having an a new ashy extrusion and the cement lions on the pillars having a new white beard.
The only working shower is for some reason in the upstairs hallway with the blue room in particular feeling very ominous. There is a bright orange sink in the corner of the blue room with the buzz of a magnificent yellow shaver light that bounces off the walls and the vanity with the room being crammed with bric a brac and photos of our past; My Dad is a collector of sorts and takes pride in all the stuff he has collated throughout his travels, a story attached to each.
Above the door in every bedroom is a window and as my room felt crammed with things the only suitable place for the bed was near the door with the eerie window above it, as a young lad I always perceived some thing peering over those windows and watching as I slept, or tried too; the thing would move with the sound of the bubbling fish tank heard down the landing of the stairs with the light no longer as the black catfish cemented to the side of the tank watched on.
I ventured down the road to our neighbour Jonjo’s yard, hot spiced rum in hand where me and my cousins used to get up to all sorts of mischief and where the remnants of hideouts in the trees still remain – a nail here and a piece of weathered wood there. The yard lit in a brilliant orange light to illuminate the little huts like a beacon where calfing sheep or cattle used to give birth in the bitter Irish cold. The falling snow over my camera lens making it look like a bursting sun.
I’ve always appreciated the creepiness of my Dads house, it always sparks my imagination and even through it might seem unfriendly It’s just a facade, its warm, old and careworn. Although the basement is another kettle of fish, with it’s low ceilings you are likely to feel a sticky spider web stuck to your face. Just don’t turn the lights off, things come alive when you do that down there.
I have always wanted to learn how to use cinema 4D as its stylistic animation possibilities seem endless, so I made these cute little houses as a starting off point and couldn’t help but turn them into sims houses with the famous green plumbob and using the parallel camera to render.
I had many options with this kick about as Ireland’s heritage is teaming with Celtic knot and rope references in art jewellery and clothes. I decided to do a mash up of different perspectives, one inspired by the Aran weather, Aran given its name comes from the picturesque Aran islands off Galway Bay was a sweater knitted for the fishermen that relied on the livestock around the Atlantic Ocean. The Jumpers were made from the sheep that populated the fields in the islands and retain their natural oils meaning they are water repellent – Ideal for Irish weather! and because the sweater is water repellent it meant that the fishermen wouldn’t feel the chill from getting wet while out fishing.
The stitches in an Aran sweater are used to signify different important factors such as the diamond stitch representing the fields in the Aran Islands and wishes health and success while the cable stitch represents the Fishermans ropes and are a promise of safety and good luck while out fishing. The combination of different stitches are divided into different clans for each family name of kinship in Ireland. Around the borders of my designs is the diamond stitch which is central to the specific Daly clan Aran sweater, with the overall theme of these designs trying to reflect Ancient Celtic Artwork including the triple spiral or Triskele where the Irish believes everything happens in 3’s and can symbolise the mental physical and spiritual self or birth death and rebirth. You can read more about the history of the Irish Aran Jumper here as well as the symbolism of Knots in Irish Celtic Art here