Cultivating our own garden

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Oil on canvas, 48″ x 36″

This painting took a direction I was not planning or expecting…
It began as another study of the heliconias/sexy pinks and became about female sexuality. It began ‘plein air’ in the garden – and it was fine, and had nice brush work etc., but I felt it needed a focal point as all the ‘work’ was on the two sides, in the flowers.
I brought it into the studio where I’m also working on another large piece with flowers that I put figures in, and I like it, so I decided to do the same with this one, and without intending  any particular meaning, it became about female sexuality. And it took me a long time to paint, so I was with the unfolding message of it, and it rang true to me.
What emerged is the exploration and then the owning of our sexuality, as women. It’s from my experience of course, as that’s all I really know, but my path has not been so very different from that of many others. When we’re younger it’s all so new, and in our curiosity we explore and want to learn about this aspect of ourselves, and then because of this exploration our lives take a direction, with the partner/s we are in relationship with, or pregnancy, and motherhood, and inevitably love and loss – the real, hard, living-life stuff. Time passes, the kids leave home, the partner may change, and as we mature and age our lives become less about caring for others and more about our relationship to ourselves.

So, the two figures in the painting are the younger and then older versions of womanhood. The younger woman is a little more cautious, aware that being a sexual being is all so very life-changing, and she’s holding back in her spirit, if not with her body, and is more in the shadow. The other figure is more relaxed with herself, more reflective about life, and open-heartedly engages with it in a simple way. She’s integrated her sexuality and the subsequent experiences with children and family, and now she’s independent, free to engage as she chooses, and in the light.
The flowers of course are so very phallic, and even have their seeds hanging underneath, so they represent the Male aspect of Woman’s sexuality. This Male/Female presence suggests a Garden of Eden, but one where there is no sense of sin, no casting out of the garden for being curious and wanting to explore. This is a place where she can be, be in awe of beauty and creation, a timeless place of passion and enchantment.

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detail

A teenage girl came by yesterday and saw this piece, and her response was that it feels like a fairy world, a magical place, a place that invites you in. I wish for her that her sexual life will be just that.

The news these days is so extreme, with Brexit and its many repercussions, and Trump’s  idiotic posturing and his unbelievable popularity, and the refugee crisis, and the bombings everywhere, and the world economy being so contracted, and global warming and pollution, and that’s just a start. So I find that I have to make a choice, not to despair of our very existence but rather to daily choose to create something peaceful and reflective of who we are. And the theme of sexuality and flowers and gardens is a timeless retreat…

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Along the Dublin coast

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Oil on canvas, 27″ x 20″

Raised in the Wicklow hills that verge the East coast of Ireland, the Irish Sea has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. From playing on the grey stones of Bray beach as a child and walking along its Promenade, to sailing from the Harbour into all sorts of weather, to taking the train to school, and then later the Dart to Dublin, the sea was a constant backdrop, and imprinted on my soul. A decade ago my parents moved back to the seaside town of Bray, and now when I go home a daily walk along the Seafront is always a rewarding and invigorating experience, offering something different every time, depending on the time of day or night, the weather, the light and the season.

In winter the waves crash and sea spray blows, with seagulls broiling the air above, shrieking with aggression, and in the summer the people flock, a community drawn by the magic of the place, gathering together at the water’s edge. It has such a pull and a power over all of us who have lived near to this immense body of water. Whether walking along the Seafront, gazing from the windows of the Dart as the sea stretches far to the horizon, or climbing high above it on the Cliff Walk to Greystones, she is always awesome. Sometimes she is an unbelievable aqua, deep and inviting, home of seals and sailboats, but usually she’s clothed in ever-changing shades of grey, speared with shafts of light, her surface hosting tunneling clouds heavy and dark with rain, arched with rainbows and shadowed with showers.

This piece was painted from memory, from thousands of miles away in Jamaica. It’s now going to a new home in Malahide, where it clearly belongs. I’m letting it go with the intention that one day I will paint beside this majestic moving piece of home that makes my heart sing. Bring it on : )