Why do you create art?
It makes me happy. My creativity affords me an outlet to explore and express my inner landscape, gives me a sense of meaning and purpose and many ways to shape it. Creativity helps me remember who I am and it gives me hope about who it is I am becoming.
Tell us about your journey to become / claim the title artist?
I’ve been a creative, expressing myself in some form or another all my life. As a child, I just liked art and I benefited from the story that I was ‘good’ at it.
As a teenager, creativity became a second language to me.
When I was about 16, a letter I wrote to a friend reporting my summer holiday shenanigans, was read by her mother who went ballistic and shamed me for it.
I began to journal using collage and symbols, cryptic verse and ‘code’ to hide my secrets in plain sight. It was also a safe way of my expressing the intensity of my emotions at the time.
I thought only ‘happy’ emotions were acceptable and that I was failing to be happy because I had a lot of dark and messy thoughts and feelings.I believed I had to hide them.
At 19, my family emigrated to America and I used creativity to cope with this massive transition and what felt like an identity crisis. This continued throughout my 20’s as I negotiated which side of the Atlantic I was going to live on. Of course, I chose Ireland in the end. It’s where my Pilgrim Soul belongs.
I’ve mostly used creativity as a container, somewhere to ‘put’ and sort through all that gets tangled up inside me. It helps me to create a distance from my thoughts and emotions and to explore new perspectives.
Even though I’ve always had an instinctive relationship with creativity, I never really considered myself an artist. I, like many, defined an artist as someone who was ‘good at drawing’, I thought of it more as an objective, technical kind of skill. Someone who could work to a brief.
My creativity has always been in service to the subjective and the expressive. I was in my late 30’s before I recognised my ability to express the subjective, as a skill and an art form. I just always thought I was ‘doing it wrong’, that I had potential but lacked any real discipline or ‘true’ talent which I also believed, was fixed and not something you develop.
In the meantime, I was studying psychotherapy and facilitation. I’ve always had a fascination with the human mind, emotions and behaviour, not to mention the concept of soul. It was in my experience as a client in therapy, that I learned to appreciate the value of creativity for recovery and transformation.
Gradually, I arrived at a place where both these skill sets, the creative and the facilitative made perfect sense together and the ‘kind of artist’ I am, finally revealed itself to me.
What is it about making art that stirs your soul?
I get to meet myself, which is something I have wanted to do since I was a little girl. I would ask ‘What is it like, to meet me?’, ‘What is it like to know me?’, ‘Who am I?’. Mostly where that stemmed from was insecurity. What I was really asking was ‘Who am I to you?’, because unknown to myself, this was how I was defining and shaping my identity. I was who YOU said I was, not me.
Living from the outside in like that, is detrimental to one’s sense of self and I completely lost contact with mine. I became an exile to myself and how this manifested in my life was reflected in the relationships, lifestyle and identity I had constructed as a result of outsourcing validation and significance.
Creativity brought me back to myself. It reintroduced me to myself and through the various creative modalities of journaling and art making, symbols and story, I deconstructed a self image that simply was not working for me and learned to shape for myself, a new one that would.
I then began learning to live from the inside out. And it changed my life! Now I call creativity a vehicle for all you know and an oracle for all you have yet to know.
What is currently inspiring you?
My father’s life and death. He passed away in July.
We spent our final 10 days gathered together as a family, walking him right to the threshold where we handed him over with profound love and infinite sadness.
The experience and subsequent outpouring of love and grief from his friends, fans (my dad was an entertainer) and the nurses who cared for him in his final days has been life changing on many levels.
My da lived his life a certain way, he was always true to himself, but it was how he approached his death that opened a portal for me and for those of us who loved and cared for him, to a whole new understanding of what it means to live and to die.
What does your creative Practice look like?
Right now, my practice looks like a lot of note and photo taking, gathering, remembering, tending, crying. I’m in an intense gathering and processing phase. I’m deep in the process of navigating, mourning and lamenting the loss of my father and transitioning to a new life living with my mother in Clare. I left Sligo on my father’s passing.
I’m still living out of a suitcase. My studio, my office and most of my belongings are in a container right now and so I’m a little unsettled and there’s very little of the ‘art’ part happening, though that will come, I’m sure.
Right now I’m gestating and collecting and writing and voicing and reflecting. I am very much pregnant with my process. Not all phases of creative practice are ‘obvious’ or even visible creative acts, but they are all important and valid. I’m never not engaged with my process.
How do you keep your creative practice fresh and inspired?
My muse is my inner landscape, which is rarely boring or dull. I mostly keep myself inspired by having as loose a grip as possible on how I define my practice and creativity in general. I don’t imprison myself with rigid ideals of what it ‘should’ look like.
What sort of creative walls do you hit?
I think time management is my biggest ‘wall’. I tend to prioritise ‘productivity’ and relegate play to the back of the line. I also tend towards perfectionism off the page and so by the time I finish my day, I’ve worn myself out and I’ve nothing left in the tank. I’m currently scaling up my creative business and so my poor creative phase (the actual acts of art making) keeps getting shunted lately. Also, every time I ‘try’ too hard, I hit a wall.
What do you do to move through them?
Accountability works for me and I currently have a weekly meeting with my assistant who helps me with the productive / strategic end of things, though I’m going to have to start incorporating some accountability around where that line is. Where do I stop so that I have enough left in the tank for the other phases in the process.
As for trying too hard, how I move through creative blocks is as I shared above, having as loose a grip as possible on how I define my practice and creativity in general. I don’t imprison myself with rigid ideals of what it ‘should’ look like or what I ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be doing and I don’t judge my efforts.
I love everything I do, when I do it with this attitude. If you were to measure my abilities as an artist or a photographer for example on technical ability, I probably wouldn’t rate very high but I don’t really care about the technical execution of my creativity. I care about the level of satisfaction and catharsis I get from it. It’s about what it facilitates in and for me. I care about the function of my creativity more than I do the output.
How has your process evolved?
The very nature of coming to an understanding and more importantly, honouring of process, allows for it to evolve naturally. The journey of that evolution, of course required me to exhaust my frustration in valuing & hence following the path of product over process and the objectification of art.
What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your creative journey?
Not to define ‘artist’ as ‘good at drawing’.
Do you have a Creative Self Care Practice?
YES!! I have altars, to which I tend. On them are trinkets of hope and memory and recovery and healing. I tend to my spaces very intentionally, atmosphere is very important to me. I like to engage my senses, I use candles and essential oils and incense. My bath and bedrooms communicate serenity and calm. I walk and swim in nature and take photos and sometimes voice notes as I ramble. I like to cook too and music is a big part of my life.
Do you have any creative rituals?
Candles, incense, music. I sometimes choose symbols, cards and / or words to help me set intentions and / or I use questions or sayings to open portals of exploration, inspiration and inquiry as I approach the page.
Where can we find you?