JOURNAL 2013

Home Studio: October 17th

I am currently enrolled in an online class with 426 other people from at least 15 different countries. The class subject is the study of the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi. Growing up as a non Catholic I didn’t know much about St. Francis other than he seemed to like birds and you could buy statues of him to put into your garden. Then I discovered his teachings of the spirituality found in nature so I wanted to learn more.  Below is a poem by St. Francis that we discussed in class last week.

The Sacraments

I once spoke to my friend, an old squirrel, about the Sacraments—

he got so excited

and ran into a hollow in his tree and came

back holding some acorns, an owl feather,

and a ribbon he had found.

And I just smiled and said, “Yes, dear,

you understand:

everything imparts

His grace.”

This poem struck a chord with me. The squirrel had his sacred items – his treasure – his connection to what is sacred in the world. I have a similar collection in my studio, bird’s nests (intricately beautiful and mysterious), feathers, sea shells, stones, hazel nuts, pine cones . . . all are mysterious beautiful and a testament to creation.

I have spent the last two days away from the studio. I injured my right hand by not protecting it enough when I was engraving with my dry point needle. My index finger went numb, it still isn’t fully back yet but it should be fine by tomorrow. I have some finishing touches to do on my plate and then I should be able to start printing tomorrow afternoon.

Plate engraving in process

Plate engraving in process

Original Ink Drawing

Original Ink Drawing

The drawing is of an Olive Tree which is one of many I photographed and have drawn from my time working in Cyprus this last February. I drew this one in ink in preparation for a Lithograph print, I decided to do a dry point engraving of it, as well.


JOURNAL 2013

Home Studio: October 16th

We now have a “ninth wave studio” sign up in front of the Mary Louise Haynes house and in this photo directly below you can see the new and improved front porch ceiling and canister lighting. Leszek also added lights to shine in the parking lot. The addition of the lighting was very helpful during the dark evening hours of the October Art Hop.

001 Sign 004

002 Sign_Les


JOURNAL 2013

Home Studio: October 9th

Last night I was able to do my second and third etch in my Lithography class at the KIA. As I was reading over my post from yesterday I realized I want to clarify the steps of the etching procedure. In my last post I gave an overview of what is applied during the etching process, below is a more detailed step by step process:

1. Talc is applied to the image and wiped off with a cotton wipe.

2. Gum Arabic is applied to the image with a brush and worked over the image for 2 minutes.

a. The Gum Arabic is wipe off with a damp sponge

b. The image is buffed down with cheesecloth

3. A mixture of Tannic Acid and Gun Arabic is applied to the image with a brush and worked over the image for 3 minutes.

a. The mixture is wipe off with a damp sponge

b. The image is buffed down with cheesecloth

Note: I used a mixture of 1 part Gum Arabic to 2 parts Tannic Acid for my second etch

4. Gum Arabic is applied again to the image with a brush and worked over the image for 2 minutes.

a. The Gum Arabic is wipe off with a damp sponge

b. The image is buffed down with cheesecloth

Second Etch: Adding the Talc

Second Etch: Adding the Talc

 

Second Etch: After the application procedure

Second Etch: After the etching application procedure

Before I did my second etch I wanted to try to remove a black blob that was under the right eye of the figure. In my last post I explained that water was accidentally splashed onto my plate which caused a black blob to appear. I was able to remove it by rubbing over it using a stone stylus before I started my second etch procedure.

The next thing that I needed to do is called the “Roll-Up”. This is where the image is removed and then Ink is rolled onto the image.

1. Wait 30 minutes after the plate is etched.

2. Lithotine is applied liberallyto the plate until the image is completely washed out

a. Several clean cotton paper towels are used to wipe off the residue completely (this is messy)

3. A small amount of Asphaltum  is put on a clean cotton paper towel and applied to the plate and rubbed into the image

a. The image is buffed down with cheesecloth

b. The plate is washed over with a wet (damp) clean cotton paper towel

c. The excess water is wiped up with a damp sponge

Note: The Asphaltum creates a printing base for the Ink. I found it helpful to thin the Asphaltum a little with Lithotine.

4. The Roll-Up process follows immediately by rolling ink on the image with a ink brayer.

a. Ink is applied by briskly rolling the brayer over the image.

b. Between applications the image should be wiped with a damp sponge.

Note. Each application consists of about 6 brisk rolls of the brayer in various directions, with a total of about 6 separate applications.

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t think to take a photo of the image after the Asphaltum was applied.

Second Etch: After Second Roll-Up

Second Etch: After Second Roll-Up

Second Etch: After Second Roll-Up –Close Up

Second Etch: After Second Roll-Up –Close Up

 

Because I altered the plate by trying to remove the black blob I needed to do a third etch. I modified the application procedure of the third etch by doing something called a spot etch. Basically that means applying the etching mixture to isolated areas on the image. I spot etched the background and the area under the right eye. After the etching mixture was moved around these areas with a brush for about 1.5 minutes I wiped it down and applied the etching mixture to the entire image for three minutes.

Third Etch: Adding the Talc

Third Etch: Adding the Talc

 

Third Etch: After the Third Etch application procedure

Third Etch: After the etching application procedure

If you compare this final image with the image from my first etch you can see a good difference in the value. Now the plate is ready to be inked for printing.


JOURNAL 2013

Home Studio: October 8th

October Art Hop" David Jay Spyker. Michael Dunn and Lorrie Abdo

October Art Hop: David Jay Spyker. Michael Dunn and Lorrie Abdo

Many things have happened since my last post, ART PRIZE has concluded, I’m progressing in the KIA Lithography class, there was a fantastic turnout for the October Art Hop Group Exhibit at the Ninth Wave Studio, there is an article in KVCC’s online publication “Insight” about my Art Prize entry as well as what I’m doing in my studio during my alternate schedule time away from teaching, there was a photography session in the studio yesterday for an upcoming article about Ninth Wave Studio by Southwest Michigan Second Wave Media, and now I’m doing the coordination efforts needed for the December 6th Group Exhibit.

It appears that Tuesday is the day for me to catch up on the marketing/communication aspect of my life an as artist. Today I spent the morning adding images of my artwork to my Artsicle site, communicated with an artist who inquired about exhibiting her work at Ninth Wave, wrote up guidelines for artwork submission to the gallery at Ninth Wave, sent out a “call for entries” for the December 6th Group Exhibit, downloaded and edited photos to include in this blog, as well as Ninth Wave Studio’s Facebook page. Soon I will post photos of the Group Exhibit that opened during the October 6th Art Hop.

Litho Pencil & Tusche on aluminum plate

Litho Pencil & Tusche on aluminum plate

In my last post I communicated my doubtfulness of my ability to effectively draw with a litho pencil/crayon. The photo above is my final drawing with a litho pencil on the aluminum plate –I’m fairly happy with the way it turned out. The wash in the background is tusche painted on and thinned with water.

Covering the plate with Talc

Covering the plate with Talc

It was time to start the procedure of the “first etch” which is a multistep process that involves multiple applications of Talc, Gum Arabic, Tannic Acid, and Water while buffing in between with cheesecloth. Much more complex than what I’m used to doing with Dry Point Engraving.

After the “first etch” is the “roll-up” step where you remove the drawn and painted image to reveal the actual etch. This takes an application of Lithotine, Asphaltum, and Water and you also need to accomplish a preparation of the ink and roller.

After the drawn image has been removed an application of ink is rolled on to the plate in six or seven different applications while wiping with a damp sponge in between applications.

The plate rolled with ink

The plate rolled with ink

My instructor was surprised that my etch rolled up so dark, she thought it may have to do with the ratio of the mixture of Gum Arabic and Tannic Acid I used to etch the plate. The instructor suggested I use a ratio of 1 to 1 which I did. After seeing the results she is wondering if I should have used a ratio of 2 to 1 or 3 to 1 (Tannic Acid to Gun Arabic).

I should mention that right before I was going to Talc the plate someone set a bowl of water down on the table and the water splashed out on my plate. You can see the results of that on the photograph above. There is a black blob below the right eye of the image that extends into the hair. That is from the water splash. The instructor will be showing me a way to try to lighten that up before I start the procedure of the “second etch”.


JOURNAL 2013

Home Studio: September 28th

I am nearing the end of the first month of my alternate teaching schedule with KVCC. The alternate teaching schedule is allowing me to not teach the fall semester. I have been working only on art related things – which is really wonderful. One thing that has surprised me, though, is the time I must spend doing marketing,  communications and networking. I usually do this in the early morning and sometimes in the evening. Regarding the marketing of my work, I have been fortunate to find an online source for a web gallery to sell my work, Artsicle. Again I am surprised at how much time and effort it actually takes to do what is needed to make the web gallery functional. It is an ongoing process. This is the link to my site:

http://open.artsicle.com/Linda-Rzoska

I also have joined Linkedin and have been able to reconnect with many individuals I worked with before I started teaching at KVCC.

I’m enrolled in a Lithography class at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA) and really enjoying it. The class size is very small, only 5 students, and the printmaking lab is great. The KIA is only a couple blocks from my own studio which makes it easy to get to. The lab is available anytime I want to walk over and work.

In order to make the best use my time in this class I have been researching the look and feel of black lines drawn with a litho crayon. From my research I realized early on that I needed to learn to simplify my line work for my lithography class . . .

Research Image

Research Image

Research Image

Research Image

Research Image

Research Image by Arthur Rackham

So far I have found that I surprisingly like drawing with a litho pencil on my aluminum plates. I have finished one drawing and will be printing it during the next class session . . . we’ll see how it turns out. I’m well prepared for a steep learning curve. While researching I came across this . . .

Learning curve of drawing with a litho crayon . . .
This info from Van Gogh’s letter to his brother Theo:

When I made the lithographs, it struck me that the lithographic crayon was very pleasant material, and l thought, I’ll make drawings with it.
However, there is one drawback which you will understand – as it is greasy, it cannot be erased in the usual way; working with it on paper, one even loses the only thing with which one can erase on the stone itself, namely the scraper – which cannot be used strongly enough on the paper because it cuts through it.

But it occurred to me to make a drawing first with carpenter’s pencil and then to work in and over it with lithographic crayon, which (because of the greasiness of the material) fixes the pencil, a thing ordinary crayon does not do, or, at least, does very badly. After doing a sketch in this way, one can, with a firm hand, use the lithographic crayon where it is necessary, without much hesitation or erasing. So I finished my drawings pretty well in pencil, indeed, as much as possible. Then I fixed them, and dulled them with milk. And then I worked it up again with lithographic crayon where the deepest tones were, retouched them here and there with a brush or pen, with lampblack, and worked in the lighter parts with white body colour.

Litho of Trees by Vincent VanGogh

Litho of Trees by Vincent VanGogh

 

Below are my attempts at drawings that will be suitable for lithography:

 

Little Girl001

This is a pencil drawing I produced many years ago, I have redrawn it on an aluminum plate with litho pencils and have added a tusche wash in the background. I’ll try to remember to take a photo of the plate before it is etched and printed so I can post it on this blog.

Olive Tree

Olive Tree

 

This is an ink drawing purposely made very linear. My desire is to recreate this on an aluminum plate with autographic ink and tusche. I doubt if I will be able to reproduce all of the line work on the aluminum plate. I, also, intend to use this image for a dry point engraving I will be doing,

FungiLog_001

This drawing started out being very linear, as you see it started out as a graphite drawing. I then thought I would do an ink version . . . I got a little carried away and started to add a lot of value (see image below). When I showed it to my litho instructor she commented that it could still make a good litho if I reproduced it with autographic ink on a litho stone instead of an aluminum plate.

FungiLog_002

I continued with the drawing and I feel I have reached the point of no return (see below). There is so much value that it would take hours to reproduce this onto a plate with autographic ink. I literally would have to redraw the complete drawing on the litho stone. I’m thinking I will try to do a litho based off the first graphite drawing.

FungiLog_003

I will continue to finished this value drawing but I will probably use it for something other than lithography. When doing the drawing I was very happy with the variations of texture I was able to get.


JOURNAL 2013

Ireland: Thursday, August 1

RainyDay_001

I haven’t posted since Tuesday and it hasn’t been because I’ve been out adventuring, I have been writing most of the time in my Meadowfield office. Tuesday afternoon I did break away to have lunch with Mary Hawkes-Greene from the Burren College of Art. Mary drove over to Meadowfield at about half past noon to collect me and then drove us to Burren Fine Wine and Food just off the road to Lisdoonvarna as you drive out of Ballyvaughan. Mary and I hadn’t seen each other in at least two years and I was looking forward to getting caught up. I had visited the Burren Fine Wine and Food once before several years ago when Robert Wainwright brought my student group there after a field excursion. I remember buying a very nice bottle of wine.

When Mary and I entered we were warmly greeted by owner, Cathleen Connele and told we could sit anywhere. We chose a table in the corner near a window. The meal was very nice and it was wonderful to be in a relaxing place and to talk with Mary again. I told Mary that this visit (sans students) has made me realize how rich my experiences have been with students here in the Burren. I’m certainly enjoying my stay this three weeks but I’m not having the experience of sharing the history and culture of the Burren with interested minds, and I miss that.

After Mary brought me back to Meadowfield I continued my writing until Breada’s B&B guests started arriving for the evening. I cleared my stuff out of her dining room and moved it back to my upstairs room in order to make room for Breada’s morning breakfast service. The first guest to arrive was a young man named Jacop who was from Germany. Jacop was a Laser Technician and in Ireland for several days on business. Later a couple from France arrived, as did a couple from the U.S. and a couple from Belgium.

I made a sandwich for my dinner then spent the evening in conversation with Jacop, Breada and the couple from Belgium. We talked about education, politics and economics. They all questioned why a segment of the U.S. population is against our country having national health care.

Wednesday morning, after my breakfast of coffee and toast I worked on my writing again. I was expecting Anne Korff to visit in the afternoon to do some iPad work and look at photos of some of the places I had visited when in Cyprus in February. I worked on my writing until Anne arrived around 2:30 or so. Breada kindly gave us tea for our little meeting and after our time working on iPad stuff and discussing Cyprus Anne suggested that we consider planning another walking tour.

MORE TO COME . . .

 


JOURNAL 3013

Ireland: Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My make-shift office at Meadowfield B&B

My make-shift office at Meadowfield B&B

I spent the majority of the day yesterday writing in my Meadowfield office. The front window of my make-shift office looks out on the field across the road and Cappanawalla Mountain. A refreshing and fragrant breeze comes in the open window.

Later Monday evening I accompanied Breada and her friend, Michael to Greenes Pub for music and the 70th birthday celebration of Sean Tyrrell. Since my last visit to Ballyvaughan in 2011, Greene’s has added an extensive Beer Garden behind their Pub. It is really very nice, with its own bar and many tables and chairs. The music sessions are now held there.

The place was full of people, I think everyone from Ballyvaughan was in attendance. I recognized many people I have met over my many visits to Ballyvaughan. Heavy h’orderves were being served and later we all received a piece of Sean’s birthday cake.

When we walked into the Beer Garden Sean was singing “Sweet Ballyvaughan” and as we walked through the crowd to find our table I heard many people softly singing the words to the song –as was I. Besides celebrating Sean’s 70th birthday this evening was a celebration of 27 years of Sean Tyrrell’s Wednesday night sessions at Green’s Pub. Tonight Sean was accompanied by Fergus Feely, and a rather new fellow (at least to me) on the fiddle, Liam Lewis. There were also guest musicians and singers that stepped up to play and sing with Sean –the well known Chris Droney played his concertina and Marion Linnane sang “The Bold Fenian Men“.

SeanTyrrell CD

There was a CD for sale to commemorate this occasion which I purchased. The following was printed inside the CD cover:

“For those of us lucky enough to have crossed the threshold of Greene’s in the mid eighties this CD will spark many magical memories. Without ever knowing it we were part of something unique, devoid of commercial aspiration but far beyond that there was a generosity of spirit. A pub, the same as any other building, is only made of bricks and mortar but it was Geraldine and Marie who set Greene’s apart. Close your eyes and you will hear Pakie Vaughan shout “love your eyes” followed by Marie promptly putting him in his place. Martin Carey in the corner with a twinkle in his eye and Beanie holding court with The Donegal Artist. You could hear a pin drop while the singer sang his song overseen by Marion, the fountain of musical knowledge, sitting quietly by the back door.”

I don’t remember meeting ever meeting Geraldine and she has passed away now but I recognized her in a photo of her that hung in Greene’s Pub several years ago. I do know Marie Clancy, Martin Carey, Marion Linnane and Beanie. I’ve enjoyed so many music session’s at Greene’s over the years and when Marie is present it is true you can year a pin drop when the singer sings his song for she strongly shushes everyone who is being unknowingly rude by trying to continue a conversation when the song starts.


JOURNAL 2013

Ireland: Sunday, July 28, 2013

003 Third Stop

This last Saturday, July 27th I took the early morning bus to Kinvara to meet Anne Korff for a field excursion. The tide was in which made the view during the bus ride more beautiful than usual. Because of my interest in the history of the Burren and its field monuments Anne suggested we go to a particular place called Cragballyconal which is located south of the peak of Aillwee Mountain.

Anne and her Jack Russell, Buddi, were waiting for me when I arrived at the Kinvara bus stop. It was very clear that Buddi was extremely excited about the day’s excursion. Anne drove us south from Kinvara past Corcomroe and Turlough Hill until we came to a place where it would be difficult and unwise to proceed by car. Anne parked her car off to the side of the road and we continued on by foot.

In order to get to Cragballyconal we proceeded to walk up several steep inclines, which I’m not accustom to.  Anne was very kind and patience with me when I needed to stop to catch my breath. Anne used each short resting time as an opportunity to give me a lesson about the landscape and its history. I made certain to document our climbing progress by photographing the landscape behind us at each stop.

First Break

First Stop

Second Stop

Second Stop

Third Stop

Third Stop

Soon we were past the uphill part of our walk and onto somewhat level terrain. The sun felt warm and the air clean and fresh with a wonderful soft fragrance of many various wildflowers. We pcontinied our walk on a narrow one lane dirt road – the first monument we came across was the Poulaphuca Wedge Tomb. Anne told me that “phuca” can be translated as “ghost”.

Poulaphuca Wedge Tomb

Poulaphuca Wedge Tomb

“Most of the tombs in the Burren, over 90% of them, are classified as Wedge Tombs. This is the commonest type of Irish megalithic monument widely distributed in the south-west, west and north of the country, and the Burren group is the densest concentration known. These tombs are so named because they have a wedge-shaped ground plan, that is, they are usually narrower (and lower) towards the rear, eastern end.”

Feehan, John, et el. The Book Of The Burren. Newtownlynch Kinvara Co. Clare, Ireland: Tir Eolas, 1991. (Page 63)

“None of the Burren wedge tombs have been excavated and, therefore, many questions about their date and their builders remain unanswered. Evidence, mainly from the north of Ireland, shows that some of these tomb builders had a knowledge of copper working and the use of these monuments continued well into the early Bronze Age, overlapping with the new burial practices of that period. The time span for wedge tombs as a class (and not necessarily the Burren series) could be a millenium or more, extending from c. 3000 to 2000 B.C.”

Feehan, John, et el. The Book Of The Burren. Newtownlynch Kinvara Co. Clare, Ireland: Tir Eolas, 1991. (Page 64)
The Book of the Burren

The Book of the Burren

In a previous blog posting I mentioned that Anne Korff is known through her work with Tir Eolas (knowledge of the land) a publishing company she founded in 1987. Her illustrations of the archaeology of the Burren and its history led to the publication of a series of guides and maps and the publishing of the book “The Book of the Burren“. This day’s field excursion was to an area that appeared on her map “The Burren: A Ramblers Guide & Map, Ballyvaughan“.

After our visit to Poulaphuca we walked on until we came to a deserted farm house. In a field on our left Anne noticed a ringfort that she did not remember –she suggested that we investigate. There was a gated narrow farm road that led up to the ringfort that we assumed was made by the farmer who owned the land. Anne climbed over the metal gate while she explained to me that you should always climb over these gates near where the gates are hinged and never where that gates are latched. I followed her lead and climbed over the gate and Buddi managed to climb between the gate’s metal horizontal bars. We then walked the farm road up to the ringfort for a closer view.

Ringfort Entrance Exterior

Ringfort Entrance Exterior

Ringfort Exterior

Ringfort Exterior

Ringfort Entrance Interior

Ringfort Entrance Interior

This ringfort was a dry-stone ringfort and a portion of a second surrounding wall could be seen when standing in its interior. Anne explained that when this ringfort was inhabited the stone walls were much higher and there would have been enclosures in its interior for use as the family’s dwelling place and to shelter their animals. Anne’s “The Burren: A Ramblers Guide & Map, Ballyvaughan says this about ringforts:

 “The evidence of Celtic habitation in the Burren is found in the literally hundreds of ring-forts in the area. The term “ringfort” is used as a general name for a protected enclosure where a farmer and his family lived where he may also have kept his domestic animals. Typically a ring-fort consists of a circular enclosure, surrounded either by a dry-stone wall or earthen banks and ditches, possibly surmounted by a timber palisade. Depending on rank and status, a ring-fort might be surrounded by several banks and ditches. A causeway interrupts the banks and provides a way into the enclosure, the entrance being secured by a gate. Within the enclosure there might be one or more buildings, for dwelling purposes and protection of livestock. The great majority of ring-forts in the Burren are constructed from stone, although earthen ring-forts are also much in evidence.”

Ringfort Entrance Interior

Ringfort Entrance Interior

After exploring the ringfort we found a place nearby to sit and eat a bit and quench our thirst. During our little rest Anne explained that these ringforts were inhabited during the Early Historic Period.

“From the archaeological excavations conducted in the Burren and elsewhere, it appears that the majority of these enclosures [ringforts] were build and occupied within what we know as the Early Historic Period (A.D. 400-1200) in Ireland.”

Feehan, John, et el. The Book Of The Burren. Newtownlynch Kinvara Co. Clare, Ireland: Tir Eolas, 1991. (Page 81)

After our respite we climbed back over the gate and continued on our excursion. We soon came upon a farm road on our right that Anne thought would lead us to a shrine with an ancient stone cross that was marked on her map. Ten years had past since Anne’s last visit to this area. We could see a house before us on this road that may have been built since her last visit –it was clearly inhabited. As we were walking a vehicle past us on the road which stopped and left off a young boy with a shopping bag at this house and then quickly continued on the road. As the vehicle passed us I waved at the driver who did not return the wave. I mentioned this to Anne and wondered if our exploration was not welcomed.

We came upon another inhabited house and saw someone driving a tractor –we continued on somewhat expecting to be approached and asked to leave. Anne recognized an area over a stone wall and climbed over, I helped Buddi over and Anne gave me a hand in my effort to get over the wall. Once over the wall we saw that about 15 feet ahead of us was the shrine we were seeking. Above it was a roughly formed cross.

Shrine at Cragballyconal

Shrine at Cragballyconal

Anne recalled that the last time she visited this shrine there had been articles placed within the shrine. This made me recall the items I have seen within the little altar enclosure at the Well of the Holy Cross (Tobar na Croiche Naofa) at Gleninagh northwest of Ballyvaughan. There I have found a statue of the Virgin Mary, a small portrait of Christ, a burnt candle, rosary beads, prayer cards, and some picked wildflowers. Anne is under the opinion that currently such “offerings” are no longer left by local people but are only being left by tourists that have read about the historical customs of these places. Ever the starry eyed romantic – I secretly wish that she is in error.

Shrine's Interior Altar with Bulluan Stone

Shrine’s Interior Altar with Bulluan Stone

Anne pointed out a bullaun stone filled with rain water located in the corner of the interior of the shrine. I have read many a hypothesis regarding the use of bullaun stones but because there is no written history about them no one really knows their purpose. Many such stones have been found on Christian sites and I have seen a very large bullaun stone in the graveyard surrounding the ruins of Rathborney Church (which is located at the southwest foot of Cappanawalla Mountain). Because Rathborney Church was built on the site of an ancient ringfort it’s bullaun stone may predate the church itself.

Shephards Shelter at Cragballyconal

Shepherds Shelter at Cragballyconal

By this time Anne and I had put on our rain jackets because the wind had picked up a bit and there was a chill in the air. We climbed over another stone wall in order to get into the next field to find a dry stone structure known as a Shepherds Shelter. Anne explained that since ancient times shepherds took shelter in these structures from rain and other bad weather. Fate was on our side that afternoon, for we happened to be in this field standing next to this structure when the sky opened up and a hard rain began to fall.  We both climbed in and Buddi followed us in. I wish now that I had taken a photograph of the three of us huddle within this Shepherds Shelter. I stayed quite dry for about 4 minutes and then the rain that had accumulated in tiny puddles on the limestone above me started overflowing and dripping down on me. We laughed because I was having my second shower of the day. I put my hood of my rain jacket over my head. My pants got a bit wet but I knew they would dry off soon enough when the sun came out. It seem that in less than 10 minutes the shower was over and we climbed out of our shelter and continued our exploration of the landscape.

The sun soon came out, we removed our rain jackets and my pants started their process of drying. Over the adjacent stone wall we saw a skylark flying against the wind and could hear the cattle lowing in the distance. The limestone pavement in this field took on its most characteristic feature of being broken up by parallel vertical cracks or joints.

“The most striking aspect of the Burren landscape is the way it is sculpted into flat, bare terraces, criss-crossed by joints, each terrace abruptly separated from the next by a cliff, so that the whole landscape looks like a fantastic , series of stairs, the steps of which you can sometimes follow for miles is you want.”

Feehan, John, et el. The Book Of The Burren. Newtownlynch Kinvara Co. Clare, Ireland: Tir Eolas, 1991. (Page 15)

“These joints are important for many reasons, most obviously because weathering of the rock is concentrated on the joints, which widen out to give the characteristic grykes of the Burren . . .”

Feehan, John, et el. The Book Of The Burren. Newtownlynch Kinvara Co. Clare, Ireland: Tir Eolas, 1991. (Page 16)
Limestone Pavement

Limestone Pavement

Limestone Pavement

Limestone Pavement

View of the adjacent cliff edge

View of the adjacent cliff edge

Over the next stone wall, but before the cliff edge, Anne spotted something in which she was very interested. She saw a group of mounds that were clearly made by the ancient inhabitants of this landscape. We climbed over the wall to get a closer look. There appeared to be at least three mounds grouped here and Anne suggested that they made be cairns  – she also found evidence of a possible fulachta fiadh  [fullokth feeah].

Possible burial cairns of Cargballyconal

Possible burial cairns of Cargballyconal

“There are a number of prehistoric burial mounds in the Burren. The large round cairns on the summit of Turlough Hill and on Slievecarran are two of the most prominent and striking sites, but there are many smaller examples as well. Dates in the Neolithic and early Bronze Age are probable, but some round mounds with enclosing circular banks could be even later.”

Feehan, John, et el. The Book Of The Burren. Newtownlynch Kinvara Co. Clare, Ireland: Tir Eolas, 1991. (Page 64)

“One of the most characteristic Bronze Age monuments known today was not recognized as such until recently. “Fulacht Fiadh” [fullokth feeah] is the term used to describe a low, usually horseshoe-shaped mound of burnt stones with a pit or trough at the center. Pits were normally dug a the water table so that they would fill naturally with water and avoid leakage. Occasional, however, they seem to have been dug near streams and may have been filled manually. The term was used originally in ninth-century Irish literature to describe open-air cooking places used by roving bands of warriors known as “fianna” [feeanna]. A “fulacht  is a cooking place an a “fiadh” may refer to these warrior bands, the deer cooked in the pits or simply the wilderness in which these cooking places are often found. In any event, it is unfortunate that the term has been used to describe this type of monument as the cooking places of “fianna” referred to in the literature post-date by up to 2,000 years the mounds now known as “Fulacht Fiadh””. Archaeologists today tend to use the neutral term “burnt mound” to describe this monuments, and there may be as many as 45,000 in the country. It is by no means certain that they were cooking places, although experiment has demonstrated that large joints of meat can successfully be boiled in the pits. They may have been used as “sweathouses”, for bathing, for dyeing cloth, in the preparation of leather, or simple some other function that has been obscured with the passage of time.”

Carthy, Hugh. Burren Archaeology: A Tour Guide. West Link Park, Doughcloyne Wilton, Co. Cork, Ireland: The Collins Press, 2011. (Pages 13-14)

MORE TO COME . . .


JOURNAL 2013

Ireland: Friday, July 26, 2013

TheBurrenWay

Much has happened since my last post. Friday afternoon I took advantage of the fine weather to walk up to the Burren College of Art and its Newtown Castle. I left my Meadowfield office, taking a break from working on the book manuscript and stopped at the Spar to purchase a sandwich from their Deli for my lunch break. I walked through the village to the School Road onto the entrance to the Burren Way foot path. On my way I saw and chatted with my friend and Burren College of Art (BCA) Facilities Manager, Robert Wainwright. He was headed for the school football field to watch his son’s match. I met Robert during my first visit to BCA in May of 2000.

There were others walking the footpath and I found that I missed the usual peaceful solitude I have experienced when I have walked the path alone. Because it was later in the season the surroundings of the footpath had vegetation that I had not seen before. In the area of the footpath where there is limestone pavement someone was thoughtful enough to stack pieces of limestone up to create a low wall on either side of the path so walkers would not go astray. Also, there are now stepping stones added to the stiles in the stone walls that create “step-ups” and “step-downs”, which I found very helpful.  There are two sections of hazel wood on this section of the footpath and they are my favorite areas to walk. In my mind these areas of hazel wood look much like little fairylands.

Burren Way footpath through a hazelwood.

Burren Way footpath through a hazel wood.

The end of the second hazel wood leads to a field where the owner had graciously opened up a narrow path between his electric fence and a stone wall for the walkers of the Burren Way. I walked the narrow path and climbed over the final stile onto a paved road, there I could see the top of Newtown Castle beyond the next field.  I turned to face Cappanawalla Mountain and walked a little way until I the road met a road the skirts the bottom of Cappanawalla Mountain. Near there I found a spot to settle for my lunch break. The other path walkers had made a turn in the opposite direction after the last stile so the only sounds I heard were bird songs. I enjoyed sitting there on a limestone boulder at the side of this road.

After my lunch break I continued on this road toward Newtown Castle. The road is paved but narrow and there is much vegetation on both sides. Once in awhile there is a break in the vegetation and the walker can see a beautiful view of the Ballyvaughan valley and mountains of Moneen and Aillwee. I enjoyed the quiet walk and soon arrived at Newtown Castle and the Burren College of Art.

Aillwee Mountain from Newtown Castle

Aillwee Mountain from Newtown Castle

Newtown Castle at the Burren College of Art

Newtown Castle at the Burren College of Art

When I arrived I visited the office to say hello to Karen Culligan the Finance Officer & Programme Co-ordinator for the College. I asked her to give my best to Mary Hawkes-Greene the college’s president and then went to the college’s gallery to see the exhibition of Irish artist, Anne Madden.

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The exhibition is entitled “Flux and Flow” and showcases 7 paintings that were created between the 1960’s and early 2000’s. The exhibit’s flyer includes this statement by Aidan Dunne:

“Anne Madden’s childhood and adolescent school holiday’s spent roaming on horseback in the Burren around Corofin, left an indelible impression on the young artist. Time, distance an absence have served only to strengthen these links with Clare and to amplify its recurring presence throughout her work”.


JOURNAL 2013

Ireland: Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ennistymon

Ennistymon

Earlier today, Thursday –July 25th I road along to Ennistymon with Breada and her sister Cathy Johnson. Cathy drove us up corkscrew hill and through the farmlands of the Burren. Traveling in her car made me remember how much I enjoyed being driven through the Burren landscape when Robert Wainwright had driven my students and I to the many field excursions which we could not reach by walking alone.

We arrived in Ennistymon and Cathy pointed out the large supermarket where she and Breada were to do their shopping then drove me around the corner to let me off near an ATM. Before I got out of the car Breada was sure to point out where I could find a bookstore and an art supply store. Once I received my Euros from the ATM I went into a little shop that had books shelved from floor to ceiling in its rooms and hallways. I found and purchased a book of Moya Cannon’s poetry that I did not own. It is entitled “Hands”. This poem is called, The Fertile Rock:

In May evening light

an exhausted silver ocean collapses,

it has carried so much to this island,

blue rope and teak beams.

dolphin skulls and fish boxes,

and, once, a metal tank on wheels,

containing one cold passenger.

It rises and collapses at the rim

rises and collapses again –

a mile of white, salt lace

which races across the low limestone terraces,

invades every crack and crevice

in the brown, brine-bitten stone,

and sprays up over

a small grey plateau,

whose fissures brim

with sea pinks.

I also found and purchased a book entitled Connemara: Legends and Landscape. At the time I purchased it I was under the impression that I could take a bus from Ballyvaughan to Galway and then take a Connemara bus tour and spend the night in Clifton and then return the next day. The book is basically a book of beautiful landscape photography with some thoughtful writing. The following are excerpts I especially wanted to record and share:

McEleveen, Hugh. Connemara: Legends and Landscape.

Dublin, Ireland: Nonsuch Publishing, 2009.

“I am the sum total of my ancestor’s existence.” (Cato & Bridgeman, One Giant Leap, Palm Pictures.) This statement of a Maori leader expresses a universal experience. An individual’s identity is derived from a sense of a belonging to their people and is defined by a flag, an anthem, culture and traditions. The obsession of ex-patriot communities with the culture of their homeland exemplifies our need for a cultural as well as a unique identity.”

“Every generation builds on that of its parents. Each generation makes new advances in science, technologies and the understanding of the world. Every age believes itself to have a truth and understands the beliefs of previous generations to be erroneous or legend, which we assimilate into our own belief system. As a consequence we mythologise the beliefs of our ancestors. We use the words legend and myth in a derogatory sense to dismiss the ideas and values of our predecessors. In the same way our children will cast aside our understanding of the world and relegate it to fiction.”

“Just as we can trace our genetic ancestry, we can follow the path of the evolution of our beliefs. Ireland is no different to many other cultures when we discover that our stories and beliefs were born out of the landscape.” (Chatwin, B., The Songlines (Penquin: London, 1988) & LaFarge, O., The American Indian (Golden Press: New York, 1972) Aboriginal Australians sang their songlines as they walked through the landscape to neighboring communities. These songs were a verbal map of a highly articulate culture. Knowing these stories as we walk through the landscape cannot but enrich our enjoyment of it. By understanding our landscape we understand our history and consequentially we understand ourselves.”

Connemara: Legends and Landscape Pages 9 and 10

” . . . our belief of ages of Ireland. Pre-history saw a maternal earth goddess culture in the Stone Age. This grew into a male warrior society during the metal ages. The arrival of Christianity was a fundamental shift of beliefs and societal values which in turn is being replaced by an age of scientific secular rationalism.” (Dames, M., Mythic Ireland (Thames & Hudson: London, 1996). P. 167.

Connemara: Legends and Landscape Page 10

I now know that this Connemara tour/trip can not happen with the existing bus schedules unless I book a room in Galway for the night before. A Connemara tour will have to wait until a future visit to Ireland.

When I paid for my books I found out that the lady behind the counter was a painter and she told me that there was an American who was currently an “Artist In Residence” at the Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan. I made a mental note to walk up to the college and introduce myself to him before my stay in the Burren was over. I then walked onto to a small art supply / office supply shop and purchased an inexpensive hardcover sketchbook – I failed to pack my sketchbook when I left Kalamazoo. I enjoyed spending my time while Breada and Cathy shopped by walking up and down the streets of Ennistymon and saw a shop sign I don’t think you would ever see in Kalamazoo, “Nagles Bar and Undertaker”.