People who live overseas can fully comprehend the highs and lows experienced when they return home on holidays or when someone they love comes to visit. I am in my element just now as my beloved only brother and his adorable wife have taken the plunge and embarked on the arduous journey from Ireland to celebrate a significant birthday with us here in Australia and also to experience a bit of the little life we have created here. We know we are fortunate and we are extremely grateful. Life for us is now a cycle of joyful reunions and emotional farewells. It is all good. We are so fortunate to be in a position to make these trips. I often think of those who emigrated in the past due to dire circumstances like famine, persecution, poverty or just to search for a better existence for themselves and their families. Many never even reached their destinations. The journeys were often treacherous and the future uncertain. Thousands of people never had the opportunity to return home or make contact. Sadly, for so many, it was the point of no return and goodbye forever. Tragically, this is the unfortunate reality for so many people today who are having to flee persecution, war and torture often with nothing more than the clothes on their back. Those of us who have migrated by choice, for whatever reason, complete with the job set up, the container of furniture, the visa obtained, schools booked and accommodation arranged had it so easy by comparison. Admittedly there were challenges, such as the initial homesickness, having to adjust to a new way of life and establish relationships with the locals. For me it was the sudden realisation that we weren't even in the same season and it could be thirty degrees here and there are horizontal hailstones back home ....in February. I choose to completely ignore that fact now and live in denial because it is easier. We try not to ponder too much on anything that enhances our sense of loneliness and separation. The initial overwhelm fades as we get busy with day to day life. We stick with the habits, traditions and ways of life that are familiar and can be incorporated into our new existence, (Christmas dinner will always consist of roast turkey and ham in our house despite having the oven on in thirty something degree heat for five hours). Life becomes an interesting blend of the old and familiar ways that are comforting to us along with the shiny new discoveries and the novelty of our new surroundings. There is also an immense appreciation for what this unique country has to offer. We seek out those in similar situations who have things in common with us and share our struggles and little victories in life, who are usually from the same country, or at least the same hemisphere as us. Someone once told me that they would have befriended a pack of wolves after they arrived here as long as they howled in an Irish accent. Skype, social media, computers and phones have made this transition so easy and we have comfort in the knowledge that there is always the option to return home. I have had conversations with people who came here from overseas decades ago and swore blind that they would never stay as they missed home so much. Interestingly, the common theme among them is that this city gets under your skin, the ease and simplicity of life here sneaks up on you and suddenly you find yourself very settled and in no hurry to live anywhere else. I am told that a lot of this has to do with sheer determination and a will to make the most of a new opportunity. It also takes patience and bravery. Time flies when the mind is occupied. My much adored visitors are having the time of their lives here and this city is quickly getting under their skin as well. The wonderful thing about this visit is that now they are part of our new life as they have met our friends and colleagues and see where we live and share in the pleasure we take from our unique surroundings. It also means that when we talk to them on the phone about our life here and the people and places in it, that their eyes don't glaze over because they haven't got a clue who or what we are talking about as they have never been here. Time is ticking by too quickly and we all quietly dread the day we head back to the airport to see them off. However there is comfort in the talk of an imminent return trip for us very soon. The goodbyes will be brief and lighthearted...on the surface. Life will resume its simple pattern and we will put the sadness aside and start planning the next joyful reunion. This is the way life is now. I will take solace at the easel, paintbrush in hand. We have a lot to be thankful for.
Irish mythology has been passed down through many generations in a nation where storytelling is a very prominent part of the culture. Many favourite tales describe heroes and goddesses who possess incredible superpowers, fairies and magical ghostlike creatures, enchanting lands and the adventures and adversities of their inhabitants. These often complex stories play an important role as they are entertaining and thought provoking, and are part and parcel of Irish culture. As children we listened to them at school, in our communities, at social gatherings.Wakes in particular were a frequent venue, death being the appropriate topic and I often recall stories of the "Banshee", (a scary, hag-like female who pulls at her hair with a golden comb and screams) and the Rath (similar to the banshee but quieter and minus the comb) heralding impending doom for some unfortunate individual. Apparently the Rath is a vision resembling the person who is about to die soon and seen by someone known to them. These stories tantalised us and often petrified us, but also fuelled our imagination, gave us insight into our origins and our heritage and enhanced our sense of belonging. I recall being very taken by the role in which women were portrayed, especially the heroines and goddesses. There was such variety in the individual stories. I loved the peculiar tales of heroism, revenge, the drama and passion and the fascinating array of superpowers.When I painted the Morrigan and the Banshee, part of me was revisiting my past, or my childhood. The Morrigan is a goddess and a shapeshifter, meaning she can magically turn into another form, in this case a crow and can quickly adapt to different environments. According to some of the legends she was shunned by a chap called Cu Chulainn, a hero and warrior and very popular with the women by all accounts. She hindered him in battle (apparently tripped him up by turning into an eel and wrapping herself around his feet) and when he died she appeared on his shoulder in the form of a crow. Morrigan is associated with the cycle of life and death. She is also known as the goddess of battles and of water. There are scores of other renditions of the role of the Morrigan in mythology and some theories are complex and tend to overlap. She is also presented as a triple goddess with three aspects symbolising the maiden, the mother and the crone or hag and this is where things become complex. There are other versions of the triple goddess, Saint Bridget being one of them, but that can be saved for another post. It is wonderful to share the variety of tales we heard about days gone by even though some are more far fetched than others. My own basic versions are mine to tell my children, as being Irish born this is their heritage. I like to keep it simple. Usually it starts with ''what on earth are you painting now......who is THAT .......eeeeeew ?" and my reply will be "once upon a time, long long ago........."or "it's one of your ancestors".
I am not sure what possessed me to create an art website and start up a blog. A sense of adventure maybe? The need to catalogue the work I create ? Is it because I feel a need to share what I have learned, discovered or realised about art, life and myself since I started doing this ? Am I hoping to inspire others? Actually it is a combination of all of this. Lets say my journey of discovery has brought me round a few hairpin corners since I decided to add this dimension to my creative repertoire. I was plodding along nicely. Tailoring my routines to get more painting time in. I was feeding my creative soul quite sufficiently ....until I acquired a lovely shiny new laptop for Christmas. I became curious about addressing the technophobe part of me.What a waste it would be to possess a brand new laptop and do nothing with it apart from checking mail and uploading a few photographs. It has taken me a while and at times I turned into a fire breathing dragon through sheer frustration and techno ignorance...but here I am with a website that is a work in progress and a little blog to share my thoughts and pictures and that is enough for me for now....Or is it ?