For several years now I have been part of a loose association of artists who call ourselves An Droichead (Irish for the Bridge). We chose this name because we wanted to mitigate some of the tendencies of contemporary art to alienated people – we wanted to act as a bridge. We also noticed that artists mostly work in isolation – and that getting together just to ‘play’ was productive for all of us. As I say – we are a pretty loose organisation, and while I nominally hold the position of President and Dictator for Life – it is a purely honorary title and we actually work very much by consensus or the seat of our pants – which ever comes first ;-)
Entitled "Grave Goods", the latest endeavour was spear-headed by Darrell Markewitz (our blacksmith), who has developed a relationship with the Woodstock Museum, here in Ontario. This is the third exhibition he has curated there, and the second one with An Droichead.
You can take a virtual tour of the exhibition here – the theme has provoked some very interesting pieces!
Here's my two pieces in their case (photo by Laura Travis, used with permission)
As I look back I feel that we have really accomplished quite a lot. We have organised several exhibitions – but we have also spent a few weeks just doing ‘art stuff’ together: teaching each other aspects of our work, going to museums together, advising festivals and other artists and generally provoking mayhem. You can see our history of events here.
I just got back from a conference in Rhode Island called “New Media and the Global Diaspora” organised by my good friend Roxanne O’Connell. I met Roxanne at the Catskills Irish Arts week. She handles the CD sales for all the teacher/performers while I sell my own work after a long day of teaching enamelling and we have had neighbouring booths for several years now. Each evening after the concert we are left alone taking down our booths and have taken to singing together – having many similar musical interests – not the least of which are French songs. Roxanne, though she married into an Irish family is of French Canadian stock – so we have christened ourselves “Les Vendeuse” (the shop girls)
But I digress! Roxanne teaches in the Visual Communications Department at Roger Williams University in Bristol RI and came up with this great conference idea last year – which brings together practitioners and academics in the field of cultural studies for a very fruitful discourse. The papers were fascinating – including several disciplines such as visual art, film, music, storytelling and poetry and several cultures such as Irish, Hawaiian, Palestinian, Thai, East Indian and Chinese – and the discussion between lively and stimulating. This year I gave a paper on the artistic process, which you can read here if you are interested.
Now that my summer adventures are over, I can settle in to a more staid winter in my studio where I can process all my wonderful experiences into something tangible. The first project on my plate is developing the Armless Maiden panels. Since I have planned to use the cloisonne technique, and it is fairly new to me, I will be making a series of small cloisonne brooches for practice. Wish me luck!