dabbling with dance

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Deciding to try something a little bit different I went to a sneak peak of some modern dance yesterday afternoon. Not really knowing what I was getting myself in to, I was pleasantly surprised by the experience.

As part of the Dublin Dance Festival Catherine Young invited to take a first look at Ultima Thule, a discovery of the unconscious through dance.

When you look at old maps you often find sea dragons and other mystical monsters roaming the boarders of the undiscovered and unknown world. These unreachable spaces and far off lands are known as the Ultima Thule and often represents unattainable goals.

Inspired by this and Carl Jung’s Liber Novus (The Red Book) – the notebook in which Jung wrote down his fantasies, imaginations and visions – Catherine Young decided to look at unconscious movement, pushing beyond what bodies are trained to do to find what bodies want to do left unchecked.

By allowing her dancers to explore their unconsciousness, write down random thoughts and words, move freely, created shapes, motions and sounds Young has choreographed a unique new dance work.

And while you can still see (and hear) her love for African dance and yoga inspired dynamics, Ultima Thule pushes up against and passes by the known. The symbioses between movement, singing and percussion beats creates a very visceral experience, raw and primal and very intense.

So while I may not know much about dance, and I may be a novice to the world of modern movement, Ultima Thule made me think, and I believe that is what art is all about – no matter the form. And maybe I didn’t understand it all, or found some of it confusing, but I found beauty and inspiration between the steps.

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

Carl Jung

#100Muses inspiring Dublin

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Just around the corner of St Stephens Green, tucked  away on Ely Place is the wonderful RHA (Royal Hibernian Academy). For the 185th time the RHA Annual Exhibition is opening its doors to show more than 500 pieces of art (26th May – 9th August).

Like every year most works are curated through an open submission, and like every year it is a visual feast and a thought provoking experience.

This year one of the pieces that caught quite a lot of attention is Dragana Jurisic’s #23 of 100 Muses. This study of a seated nude is not only beautiful but raw, and shows the female form without any excuses.

As the Irish Times puts it in today’s paper:  Dragana Jurisic’s photograph, #23 of 100 Muses, a study of a seated, nude figure, is a considerable work. Jurisic is a well-established photographic artist, and this piece, from a project on the “female gaze”, has real gravity and presence and none of the flimsiness increasingly identified with photography as disseminated through Instagram and other digital platforms.

But #23 of 100 Muses is just a taste of what the project #100 Muses has in store. As part of a much larger project the 100 Muses sadly won’t been on display just yet. But to wet the appetite ArtBox is allowing a sneak peek of the work.

For one whole month (29th May – 27th June) ArtBox is exhibiting the first chapter of Dragana’s work.  #100Muses inspiring Dublin to embrace a true celebration of the female form in all it’s complexity, beauty and power.

#100 Muses

#100 Muses

exciting but expensive news

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Back in April, on a whim, I applied to do a MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) in creative writing and I recently I received the good news that I have been accepted. And this exciting news even got better – I was offered a working-scholarship which will reduce the cost a little bit.

Delighted about this news now all I have to do is figure out a way to pay for the privilege of a year filled with writing, reviewing and excellent mentoring. And while I do understand that education costs, I just wish it wasn’t quite so much.

So, this week I will be looking for grants I can apply for, look at any loan possibilities and hope that somehow I can scrape the money together. It would be such an incredible adventure and my writing would surly improve – a once in a lifetime opportunity.

And while I am researching financials I can’t help but dream of some long lost relative with a big purse, or a crock of gold hidden in my tiny yard, or maybe some unreversible  banking error in my favour. Or – who knows- maybe my book will be picked up and my funds will improve.

What ever happens I am excited about this expensive news and just hope I can make it reality. So if any one out there has any helpful ideas please do let me know!

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest

Benjamin Franklin 

 

 

skipping around Skibbereen

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I spent the last two days in the west of Ireland, near Skibbereen to be more exact. Like so many places in Ireland west Cork is absolutely beautiful – green hills, blue water and an ever changing sky.

We left Dublin and a grey sky behind us and had lunch in the grounds of Cahir Castle. My friend C. had prepared some delicious food and we sat in the sunshine enjoying an old-fashioned pick-nick.

homemade food for lunch

homemade food for lunch

our view while munching on our goodies

our view while munching on our goodies

duckling

some cute ducklings waddling nearby

some cute ducklings waddling nearby

C. had book us into the gorgeous Liss Ard Estate, a stunning old Georgian country house surrounded by magical gardens, woodlands and on the shores of a lake. Sadly the sun had left us again and we were greeted with cloudy skies.

However, unable to resist the gardens, C. and I went for an early evening walk and we spent some time inside the Sky Garden Crater. This unique work of art by James Turrell is hard to explain, but experiencing it is quite special.

You enter into this man-made crater through a tunnel, and then climb 11 giant steps upward, from darkness into light and end up encased in vivid green, the sky above you. In the center of the crater is a slap of stone, the so-called plinth or ‘Vault Purchase’ . You lie down on it, two people toe to toe, your head a little lower than your feet and you look up into the sky framed in green. Sadly the desired blue was covered by grey clouds for us, but even so it was a beautiful experience.

entering in to the gardens

entering in to the gardens

looking back

looking back

the entrance into the Sky Garden

the entrance into the Sky Garden

walking trough the tunnel

walking trough the marble clad tunnel

walking up the steps into the light

walking up the steps into the light

the 'Vault Purchase’

the ‘Vault Purchase’

inside the crater

inside the crater

Once out of the Sky Garden we walked around the grounds and found a magical fairyland. Purple flowers were everywhere, hidden benches and small creeks, overgrown trees and birds singing all around.

looking up at a pipe

looking up at a pipe

a small walk away from the Sky garden

a small walk away from the Sky Garden

entering the Water Gardens

entering the Water Gardens

light and shadow dancing between trees

light and shadow dancing between trees

down by the lake in the morning

down by the lake in the morning

cloudy when we arrived, but ...

cloudy when we arrived, but …

... what a difference a day makes - teh evry next morning

… what a difference a day makes – the very next morning

some hazelnuts growing wild

some hazelnuts growing wild

Liss Ard Estate is prepared for all visitors large and small - wellies and outdoor gear ready and waiting

Liss Ard Estate is prepared for all visitors large and small – wellies and outdoor gear ready and waiting

some wood for the fire

some wood for the fire

a gorgeous old chair

a gorgeous old chair

The next morning, after a lovely breakfast, C . and I headed out to do some sight-seeing and drove down to Baltimore, a famous pirate sea-side town. We wandered around the pier and ventured inside the O’Driscoll castle, Dún na Séad or Dunashad (“fort of the jewels”). It has been restored and tells the story of Baltimore through the history of piracy.

 a boat near the pier

a boat near the pier

the door to the castle

the door to the castle

some old keys left behind

some old keys left behind

still flying the pirate flag

still flying the pirate flag

After enjoying a cup of cappuccino sitting out in the sun C. and I drove to Knockdrum Stone Fort in Castletownshend. It was a bit of an adventure, and very hard to find,  as we had to drive down a tiny, grass covered road – well trail –  to get there, but it was well worth it, even the climb up quite a lot of steps was quickly forgotten once you saw the view!

looking over Knockdrum Stone Fort

looking over Knockdrum Stone Fort

the view over the coastline

the view over the coastline

inside Knockdrum Stone Fort

inside Knockdrum Stone Fort

It was hard to believe that just the day before we had been surrounded by grey clouds and misty skies – I could hardly get enough of the stunning blue of both sea and sky that lay before us. So, since we still had some time, we decided to visit a nearby stone circle.

Drombeg Stone Circle, also known as Druids Alter, dates back to the Bronze Age, or early Iron Age. This collection of standing stones and remaining dwellings  were excavated in 1957 and is one of the most visited megalithic sites in Ireland. What surprised me was that visitors had left things behind on the large alter stone.

Drombeg stone circle

Drombeg stone circle

left behind on the alter

left behind on the alter

a painted shell as a gift to some ancient god

a painted shell as a gift to some ancient god

the whole area, with my friend C. as a modern day contrast

the whole site, with my friend C. as a modern day contrast

As it was already well past 5pm it was time to make the journey home –  our minds filled with what we had seen and our cheeks reddened by the warm spring sun.

 

 

 

commuting to West Cork

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Today I am heading out to West Cork with my lovely friend C. She has this week off and needs a break from packing up her apartment.

She is in the process of buying a house and since moving is so stressful we decided, over a glass of wine, that she needed some time away from Dublin.  And since I am a little bit flexible at the moment I am taking my week-end a few days earlier and will finish what I need to do on Saturday and Sunday.

After all I love spending time with C, the two of us always have lots of fun and I end up with beautiful photos  as an added bonus.

C. booked a night in a castle somewhere, I  really have no idea where we are going. But I am sure wherever it is in West Cork it will be beautiful, I just hope the weather will hold up (a tall order after all the oddness we have been having lately).And since we are heading to the south-westerly part of Ireland here are a few images from last years trip to the north-westerly part of Ireland, where we spent several rainy days exploring.

Doagh Strand

Doagh Strand

a window with a view

a window with a view

Mailin Head, the most northerly point of Ireland

Mailin Head, the most northerly point of Ireland

window with a view

window with a view

blue water and lots of sand at the Five Finger Strand

blue water and lots of sand at the Five Finger Strand

 

 

 

Wednesday wonderings

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Today Dublins sky is a pale slate grey and really doesn’t entice me to leave the home. Warm socks and cups of tea are what this day calls for, but filling out forms and a few meetings are what is scheduled.

However I can’t help but wonder, as I gaze out into the greyness of the day, how easy it would be to give in to temptation and just curl up with a good book and ignore the world outside.

Our material world is driven by temptation: advertisement plays on it, the shops stock to enhance it, the ping of emails, Facebook and instant messages trigger it and the allure of delicious food even makes us salivate. And the pleasure we derive from giving in to all the temptation around us somehow allows us to justify it.

A recent study by associate professor Sriram Chellappan shows that giving in to temptation may be all down to alleviating pain. His study looked at the internet usage of students and he quickly discovered that those students suffering from depression checked their emails a lot more than those who didn’t.

The reason behind this could be the fact that people who are experiencing negative thoughts and feel anxious are looking for ways to make them feel batter, lessen their emotional pain, and turning towards the the web seems to boost their mood.

And since trying to make ourselves feel good is what we all do, not just those with depression, our brains are primed to seek out ways to lessen pain and increase joy. And since how we experience physical pain and emotional pain are very closely linked our brain even adds pain to things we experienced as pleasurable to push us to seek out what our bodies want. So when our body, or mind, wants something, not only does our brain open up our pleasure responses it also adds our stress response into the mix.

“Chocolate cravers” stated in a 2005 study that when they imagine themselves eating the yummy goodness, they didn’t only feel good about it, but they also experienced feelings of agitation and a sense of loss of control – temptation for them wasn’t only pleasurable, it had quite a lot of stress attached to it.

And then of course there is the “fear of missing out” – if the person next to you has something, you may want it too. Just think of siblings having desert and making sure that they both have the exact same amount, even the same thing – give one a larger slice or more smarties, or even give one ice cream and the other cake, there is sure to be a war.

It seems that temptation is just something we all have to deal with – one way or another. And giving in doesn’t really seem to be the solution, since the relief is just short lived, but always resisting won’t make us happy either, since our minds are programmed to want. So maybe it is all about picking which temptation to give in to. Maybe we should really just try to figure out which one has the most positive and long-lasting effect – both physically and emotionally.

So keeping that in mind I think it is time to ignore that beckoning book and head out into the grey world and find another temptation to give in to.

mystifying May weather

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Ireland has a bad reputation when it comes to weather. All around the world people believe it always rains, and while we may get our fair share of wet, we do tend to have lots of dry days.

Most of these beautiful sunny days normally occur between April and August but this year it seems all bets are off. For some unknown reason our Irish weather has decided to go a little rouge and our usually beautiful May days have turned into a roulette of possibilities.

The early morning guessing game of what to wear becomes a torturous affair, after all how does one dress for sun, rain, hail and wind all in one outfit? And it seems I always get it wrong and either end up with wet feet or way too warm.

As I sit at my desk and look out into my tiny back yard I am entertained by a play of shadows and light, sunshine illuminates the whitewashed walls to only suddenly darken and heavy drops of rain draw lines on the glass. Then a gust of wind plays with some colourful windmills for a while to be interrupted by the rhythmic beating of hail.

It truly is mystifying how this year our May weather can’t seem to make up it’s mind!

Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.

Mark Twain 

reset- restart

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Last week was a write-off, somehow I didn’t get half of the things done I needed to do and it left me feeling very unsatisfied.

Of course there were a few bright pockets of enjoyment –  the Mad Max premier (little dialog, lots of special effects and brilliant fun), meeting up with friends  (wine, good food and lots of girly giggles) and a new friendship with a crime-writer from Key-West.

But overall the week just wasn’t very productive. However, today is Monday and I have decided it is time to reset and restart. Hopefully this will help me re-motivate myself and shake off any negative thoughts and restructure my mind.

To help with this I have cleared off my notice board, added a few new magnets and have decided to start a fresh to-do-list on a blank piece of paper. A clean slate for a fresh start – a new week ready for some new projects, starting with a large cup of tea!

blank page - full cup

blank page – full cup

cleared of and waiting for paper

cleared of and waiting for paper

Weekly Photo Challenge: Enveloped

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poppyI love poppies. I love the way they punctuate the world with vibrantly red, fragile petals enveloping their seed pods. And I adore the fact that they aren’t really flowers for vases, they thrive outdoors, slender stalks proudly presenting their scarlet cups, withstanding wind and weather, for a while, but once indoors they loose their strength and quickly wither away.

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