Thursday, 31 May 2012

Sunny evenings and beachy days

I appear to have woken up in an alternate universe where Ireland gets long sunny days and you can leave the house of a morning confident that you won't need a jumper later. Unheard of!

We spent a lazy evening at our friend's apartment down by the river Lagan, enjoying the views and lovely dappled light (and a few bevvies). I hope you've been out getting all the goodness from the sun's rays.

Then at the weekend we took our bikes on the train to Helen's Bay which is just outside Belfast. We found a private walled area just off the beach so that I could bask in the sunshine like a lizard while Danny lay in the shade.

I had great intentions to have my first swim of the season but in the end wasn't brave enough for anything more than a paddle. Even that was made difficult by the thousands of shell creatures everywhere.

Hoards of people swarmed the beach every half hour as the train from Belfast arrived so we made an early exit and went for a cycle in the blistering heat. Not that I'm complaining - This week has been heaven to me.

Long may it last.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Polish paper chandelier

Since my job at the university finished for the summer I've finally had some time to devote to attacking all the amazing craft ideas I've come across so here's what I've been working on recently - it's based on the Polish paper chandeliers, or 'pajaki' that I saw in Krakow back in January (below), though much simplified!

All you need to make these are drinking straws, some thickish wire, tissue paper and wool or cord of some type. They are pretty time-consuming but I reckon it's worth the effort and I'm looking forward to having another go at making a bigger and better one. Just let me know if you'd like a full tutorial.

Et voila! These would look amazing hung above tables at a wedding or party. Contact me if you'd like me to make one for you - prices from £20.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Today's finds: seascape paintings

I found these two little original paintings in a charity shop recently for only £5 each. They're fairly acomplished I think and I especially love the sailing picture below.

I've stuck to my vow in past weeks though and have resisted buying several pictures and other bits and bobs that I probably would have bought before. I'll only buy what is truly beautiful or useful from now on.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Googly eye bombing

My new favourite passtime. I recommend that you go out immediately and buy some googly eyes and afix them to anything and everything that even vaguely looks like a face. Bring a smile to someone else's day.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Room tour: bathroom

I know you've all been dying to see some photographs of my bathroom. No? Well here they are anyway.
It seems that I'm incapable of visiting a beach without taking half of the shells and stones home with me and so they inhabit the empty space at the end of our bath. Some came all the way back from my year in Australia and some from our Greek island-hopping honeymoon but most are of the domestic variety.

You may have spotted the strange piece below which I painted a face onto. It caught my eye on a walk on the Strand beach in my home town and at first look I thought I'd discovered a fragment of an old fresco because I saw the ghost of a face, but alas it turned out just to be my over-active imagination. I brought it home though and tried to make it into a treasure by painting over the face that I imagined at first glance. It became another of my weird home-made presents to Danny.

The rather dried-out St Brigid's cross was made by me on the morning of our handfasting ceremony and my mum gave me the boat ornament as a reminder of all the sailing I did in Australia.

Elise (the bike) lives in our bathroom despite it being on the first floor because there's simply nowhere else for it to go. It's good exercise just getting it downstairs and out the front door!

The gorgeous carved piece of slate below belonged to my parents, or rather it still belongs to my parents but has found its way to my house. It represents the lamb of god and reminds me of the images in the Book of Kells. It is signed by an Eamon MacClior as far as I can make out. The bride and groom rubber ducks were given to us by Dan's mum on our wedding day.

Do you collect stones and such? How do you display yours?

Friday, 4 May 2012

Dear photograph

Dear Photograph,
I found this photo of my mother’s parents while looking through her most beloved things after she had suddenly passed away.  My grandfather, who I never met, had written on the back of the photo; ” Yoyita, every time you see this photo remember an unforgettable Sunday for me.” Now I know why my mother knew how to love her husband and children with such an honest and pure love….she learned it from her parents. 
Thank you Mom, we will never forget to love.

I don't know if you've ever come across this adorable website called dear photograph This evening I spent a while scouring through all the revisited photographs and acompanying letters. Perhaps I'm particularly emotional today but they had me in tears! I found these pictures on there, go on over and spend a while. They have a book out now too.

Doesn't it inspire you to revisit the scenes of your childhood photos and do the same?

Dear Photograph,
Back in 1970, when I was 7 years old, I went to the Dime store and bought my Dad this huge joke cigar and I was so excited to give it to him. Like a trooper, he smoked the whole thing.  It had to have been the worst cigar he ever smoked, but he never let on. I miss my Dad.

Dear Photograph,
Thirty two years later I went searching for the ghosts of my parents who never made it back from this trip to Spain. After two weeks of investigative work, I found the place where this photo was taken.

Creative Change video

I detest seeing myself on video but talented film maker El Porter-McCullough made this short film about the lost & found exhibition at PS2 project space so I thought I would share it with you. For some reason I'm rocking back and forth throughout the video like a complete loon, so please ignore that and appreciate the way El has filmed through the viewfinder of my old Hasselblad camera and added a split-screen effect.

See more films by El and a wealth of information about arts events and exhibitions in Northern Ireland on the creative change NI website

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Derelicte my halls: Jordanstown

I haven't come across many new abandoned buildings in recent times so today I revisited this beauty that I pass on my way to work. It is terribly fire damaged but signs remain of a very elegant building, including this gorgeous Victorian tiled porchway. I'm sorely tempted to arrive one day with a hammer and chisel to prise the tiles up but that of course would be illegal.

The building is just one of many that are abandoned and lying open to the elements on the edge of a school complex and this house was obviously used as a school at one point because there are blackboards and half-burnt desks lying around. Nothing salvagable unfortunately. And believe me I've looked.