I spent the whole of September with the eight women artists who are Na Cailleacha, a newly-formed artist collective of women who are all, except myself, over 70. We had the luxury of a month together at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in North Mayo. Having all cocooned for a fortnight beforehand, we felt safe after a few days to trust we were all Covid-free. This gave us such a freedom, in our pod. After working on our own projects during the day we met for dinner every evening, wonderfully provided for by Maria, a local cook from Ballycastle village, followed by discussions that ranged over subjects including frailty, energy, death, feminism.....(more about that on the Na Cailleacha blog)
So here we are, in no particular order, Helen Comerford, Maria Levinge, Barbara Freeman, Gerda Teljeur, Therry Rudin and Patricia Hurl -all visual artists - Catherine Marshall - writer and curator, and myself - musician. And not forgetting our wonderful intern Anouk Rudin who took care of us all so beautifully and kept our Instagram up to date. And here is a link to Rosita Boland's article about our time in Mayo in the Irish Times
We had no particular agenda except to work, talk, support each other and form friendships. This all translates into ideas and projects for 2021. First up is an exhibition in Clonmel in March, followed by a showing of a documentary of our month together made by Therry Rudin in May as part of the Bealtaine Festival. June sees us return to Mayo and we are planning exhibitions for Carlow Visual and Wexford Arts later in the year. A set of limited edition prints is also in the pipeline for 2021.
It is such a joy to me that, as concerts disappeared and the future seemed to close in, this unexpected path opened up. I took a keyboard and two saxophones intending to compose on the piano and get back into my sax playing after a long break. Right now the sax recordings I made are taking me down a whole new path, leading I don't know where. At one of our evening discussions we spoke about where we found the energy and desire to keep making art: Barbara said "I want to keep surprising myself". What a wonderful mantra to sustain us all as we age.