Some photos taking back from the Emerald Isle from this past winter. I find it so fascinating to observe the minute details that a single patch of earth provides in rural Ireland, every few feet there is something different to marvel at – a new collection of colours and textures that are only heightened during crisp, dewy winter mornings where the parts of the flora are submerged and stuck in its icy capture. Their tendrils like a miniature kraken raring to pounce or some sort of leggy thing cracking out of a shell and ready to usurp whatever living thing is staring at it.
Cré meaning clay or earth as gaeilge – a series name of further experiments in colour with photography from the boglands in Ireland 2021.
I have been busy setting up an online shop for art photography prints and have been in the process of organising, selecting and editing a slew of photos to see what will make the cut. Here is some edits of photos that was taken back in January of this year, which feels like a lifetime ago. I can almost taste the clean air and feel my boots squelch in the rich peat filled trenches as my dogs watch cautiously in preparation for an almost face plant.
With this week’s prompt over on Red’s Kingdom being “You were once wild here, don’t let them tame you” I instantly thought about being amongst the countryside of Ireland, and surrounded by flora and fauna. When I was younger, I was wild at heart; I climbed the highest trees, I made hideouts, I swam in rivers. The ground on top of hills surrounded by fairy trees was ground down by my cousins and myself, with our bikes fucked into the nearest ditch. We could be heard screaming with joy in this landscape playground that was all around us. We would cycle into town, put our money together and buy sweets and milkshakes, then cycle back – milkshake in hand and eat our feasts, supported by tree trunks and makeshift wooden slats. I feel like I grew up on the precipice of this wild and free way of life, before it started to die out with the younger generation concentrating more on the protective shield of screens. I still feel like I have that sense of adventure within me, and when it is my birthday this year I am buying myself a bike to find some places that remind me of that time, I might not make hideouts like I used too, but I will be taking photos of places that bring me back to that untamed nature.
Pictured here are photos from the forest taken this past Christmas, where we ran amok often. I wanted the photos to feel nostalgic, with a rustic warmness to them and an influx of colour, but also show that we adventured to places like this in all seasons and all weather, where we were free and wild with not a care in the world. We never let anyone tame us and that’s how it should be.
A final set of photography from my excursion back to the forest during a crispy winter afternoon.
Another batch of photography taken from the lagoon deep within the forest that inspired the Pools film that can be viewed here. I am currently in the process of setting up an online print on demand shop, where large scale prints of those photos can be purchased. It is an exciting venture that I have always dreamed of delving into and I’ve decided to jump head first!
Before plopping myself down on the earthy forest floor and hitting record on my camera to document the meditative ripples that transpire within the forestry lagoon that inspired the Pools Film, I took many photos that gave the same filmic effect and have superimposed them for that same elemental visage. With every falling drop of snow the resulting photograph is a drastic change from the last resulting in a plethora of different colours and textures – an addictive waiting game where I spent hours watching and capturing the unpredictability as it unfolded, listening to the many calming drip sounds so that I can snap away.
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.