Neglected Dreams

Exploring the ideas of Utopia, Dystopia and Michel Foucault’s Heterotopian spaces, I wanted to discover what happens when Utopia is neglected, when the heterotopian space of an international hotel is locked up and forgotten, when the money dries up and the fire goes out. When Utopian dreams are taken over by a Dystopian reality.

What happens to the shiny brochure pictures when the photographer leaves and the lights are turned off?


When the rain seeps in the cracks in the roof and rodents and teenagers play illicitly in the ruins of yesterdays luxuries…


When the windows are blocked up and the telephone has no number…

The empty disco echoing in the darkness with the remanents of yesterdays parties


Is there beauty in the chaos?

A space where the rules no longer apply

A space with no boundaries opens the door to questioning

The dystopian darkness allowing a freedom of expression banned on the outside.

A space that is now no longer. A heterotopian invisibility.

‘within every dystopia there is a little utopia,’ Margaret Atwood



Layering the Past : Photomontage


Layers of family history are built up in this work, overshadowed by WW2 warplanes and and the news from a recently discovered issue of the Daily Mirror from montage 3

The smiles belie the surrounding tragedies, both personal and historical.

Found photograph from my grandfather’s collection:IMG_4819kpc221

This image really interests me – is she the Bugandan princess who visited my grandparents on their island in Kenmare Bay? To quote Michel Foucault and his philosophies of heterotopias ‘the boat is a floating piece of space, a place without a place, that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea and that, from port to port, from tack to tack… it goes as far as the colonies in search of the most precious treasures they conceal in their gardens, you will understand why the boat has not only been for our civilization, from the sixteenth century until the present, the great instrument of economic development … but has been simultaneously the greatest reserve of the imagination. The ship is the heterotopia par excellence’. 

I am also reminded of John Akomfrah’s work, as I discover his magnificent film making on the subject of migration and the sea.

And then a surprise on Wikipedia – as I research the Kabaka of Buganda – who do I see staring out from my computer screen, but my maternal grandparents. Long gone, but now uploaded, the image labelled ‘Muwenda Mutebi II, Ireland, 1966’


I see them standing on my patio, layers of history revisited, asking questions I have not discovered yet.




Digital Skies: Re imagining/Re imaging

digital skies sunset

Experimenting with colour, landscape and Photoshop – I began with a photo taken looking across the Bay from the bottom of my garden. I then separated out some of the colour elements that make up this striking scene.

Then using these vivid colours from the sky, I created abstract compositions through Photoshop, using the gradient tool.


I then decided to put all of the elements together – the landscape photograph, the abstract colours, the Photoshop gradient tool – thus creating this semi-abstract sunset scene.


diamond 1

Visualizing the Future! – Creating my own Exhibition Poster

exhibition poster 2

This was a fun exercise – creating a poster advertising a future exhibition of artwork.

To start, I used a photograph of the interior of an old derelict farmhouse near my home.

feb photoshoot. sunny 15.2.160423

Firstly I lightened the photograph using levels. I then duplicated & rotated the image, creating a mirror image. Sampling the colour of the door, using the eyedropper tool, I was able to create text in a matching tone of green. I was then able to rotate both the address and date to align with the angle of the doors. The gradient tool was invaluable in lightening up the central ‘space’. I customized this again using the eyedropper tool to ensure the tones would fit in with the original colours. Finally I changed the text around until I was happy with it and used brightness/contrast to give the image more definition. I particularly like the way the old horse’s hames, hanging from the rafters, show up in the centre of the new image.

For the next exercise I designed a poster for a virtual exhibition on Second Life.

Second Life Poster

This was inspired by a scene I came across whilst exploring the Second Life world. I found the flower imagery reminiscent of Impressionism, Monet in particular. This feeling was emphasized by an online article I read on about a digital painting artist  titled,  ‘Is Petra Cortright the Monet of the 21st Century?’

I opened the snapshot I had taken whilst in Second Life and, sampling the colours with the eyedropper tool, I was able to match up the background and the text colours to the scene from Second Life. I decided to hold the exhibition at the DIT Second Life campus, to add to the theme of virtual reality.




My final poster was basically an exploration on working with Photoshop as I  used the Pencil tool to create a pattern of lines of different thicknesses and shades. I used the colour palette from the last exercise – mainly because I liked it – and played around with the ‘paint bucket tool’ and colour theory, in filling up the spaces and adding depth to the layered design.

I then added a ‘Gaussian Blur’ filter. I also added a custom gradient effect, an effect that I have only just discovered. The ‘misty’ effect produced helped the text to stand out from the background design for increased legibility.




Playing with Photoshop and Pop Art…


Using Andy Warhol’s iconic screen print of Marilyn Monroe as inspiration, I got to grips with Photoshop’s amazing versatility, with my daughter modelling a distinctly 60s vibe.




I also enjoyed the ‘no face’ effect, giving my photograph a very ‘cartoonish’ feel

Cara no face!

but ultimately felt this moved away from the Warholesque nature of the excercise.

So I had a try with myself as the model!

pop art portrait





Looking for Donald Teskey in the Irish Landscape…….

As an artist living close to the Atlantic ocean, the question of how to capture the wild, bleak beauty of the sea has always been significant.

Where better to start than looking at the work of Limerick born Donald Teskey?

To quote his web-site,” his images reflect  his response to the formal elements of composition; shape, form and fall of light. The result are powerful images of instantly recognisable parts of the Irish landscape with large abstract passages and surfaces which articulate the relentless, energetic and elemental force of nature.”

Image may contain: outdoor and water

The force of waves crushing rock, the sea spray hitting the air, the cold violence of the Atlantic Ocean meeting the Irish coast, richly conveyed to the viewer.

Image may contain: indoor

The drama of rock an sea, elemental forces in constant motion – and all exhibited in the nice, warm  centrally heated gallery space!

So I took leave of the indoors and headed out into the bitter damp cold of a February day in Ireland’s South West and discovered the Atlantic seaboard for myself…..



Exploring remote Cod’s Head on the Beara, in West Cork,

Watching waves struggle against the wind, between hailstorms blown in by Atlantic gales,

Image may contain: ocean, sky, water and outdoor

‘Sea and Rock VIII’, Donald Teskey, acrylic on paper

Beyond the beach acrylic on paper 64 x 76 cm 2015

‘Beyond the Beach’ acrylic on paper, Donald Teskey

Are Waves acrylic on paper 39 x 41 cm 2015

‘Are Waves’, acrylic on paper, Donald Teskey


Face and fingers numb from the breathtaking wind, seastorms whipping up a spray of salty ocean. Even the sea birds are in hiding. The ‘elemental force of nature’ drives me back to the warmth of a friend’s fire and a new respect for the energies conveyed in Teskey’s use of colour, brush and palette knife in his portrayal of this cold violence – the untamed, battered and yet unbeaten Irish coast meeting the Wild Atlantic Ocean.




Sitting and reflecting on my charcoal piece – loosely called ‘Putting a Handle on it’  – and very loosely  based on the idea of ‘Readymades’ by Marcel Duchamp – it struck me how similar the compositional layout of the piece was to Van Gough’s chair


… a similarity I tested out with a little help from Photoshop…..


..and so, digital media, drawing and art history in one!

Making My Mark


In the spirit of Richard Long and ‘A Line Made By Walking,’ I set out to explore the shoreline of the Wild Atlantic Way, leaving my ‘marks’ to blend with nature.


The lines created by wind, waves and weather..

Illustrating the elements

Bravely leaving my mark….

Bracken markmaking - only for the brave...JPG

Using my eyes……

To see what I can see.