Friday, November 16, 2012

Cill Rialaig -Last Day

Endings and beginnings.  As I pack up, I also wrap up in my mind what I take away from this place.  One of the biggest lessons I've learned is about the gift of letting the day unfold as it will,. My friend Rebecca Crowell wrote a wonderful post about learning to follow her intuition.  Of course this is always the case in painting abstraction where you have to trust that what you do will eventually resolve itself into a painting. But this journey to Cill Rialaig has helped with that lesson.  In some cases, I've been forced to stay in the moment as in driving a car with a stick shift on the wrong side of the road on steep single-track roads with no guard rails, around corners where you can't see what's coming.  I am totally in the moment then!

It's been important to give in to the beauty of the day and to the rhythm of life here.  Some days have been grey, overcast and windy  where the studio skylight is pelted with rain and small bits of hail. It was good to stay inside and focus on my work those days. But many  days have cleared at some point to glorious, blue skies and it was impossible to stay indoors.  Giving in to the rhythm of the weather has been important.  I love that changeability.  My cottage looks out onto the Ballinskelligs Bay and the islands of Scariff and Deenish.  I have taken hundreds of photos of those islands with the changing skies over them. The light and sky change by the hour. Yesterday a cloud nestled right down on Cill Rialaig and I couldn't see the islands at all.

I wrote in a post from home  just before I left that I was looking forward to experiencing that thin place between the worlds. I can feel this at some of the ancient sites.  The trip here has been expanding in many ways.  That's the blessing of travel--the way it cracks open my mind and breaks me out of my daily life and routines, forces me to try out new ways of living, and keeps me in the moment.  Simply following the unfolding of the day has been important.  It brought us to the ancient hermitage site up the road, just when the biggest rainbow I'd ever seen, shone over the bay.  Our spontaneous decision to stay for the night after we'd seen Rebecca's artist friend, gave us time the next day to visit the Irish artist Charles Tyrrell, whose work Rebecca and I saw in Dublin last year at the Royal Hibernian Academy. He lives at the far end of the Beara Peninsula in a very remote place.  Getting there was a journey itself , stunning views and terrifyingly narrow, steep roads but it was a delight to visit his home and studio and chat about painting. He was most generous with his time and his conversation.

 Later that day we had time to visit the incredible stone circle at Uragh.

My work has moved in directions I would not have expected but then I came here with the idea of letting it move and change with the energy of the place, working mainly in black and white.  Although this work is not about the land in a direct way, it is heavily influenced by the land.  How can it not be, with the stunning views on clear days and the wind and rain sometimes lashing at the cottage on others?

Cill Rialaig November 2012 © Janice Mason Steeves

Rebecca leaves for home on Friday and my journey continues to Scotland. I will miss this rather primitive little cottage with it's paint-splattered concrete floor, the steep ladder to the bed/loft area and  the old plastic radio with it's big dial tuned to the RTE Lyric station.  This afternoon I'll walk up to the hermitage site where I've been so many times now and sit for a while in that prayerful place.   Thank you to all who are involved with making Cill Rialaig available for artists.  Thanks to this land and to the ancestors.  Go Raibth Maith Agat.

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