Monday, October 26, 2009

Irish Monsoon Wedding - Part One.

Here is a link to my first ever podcast! "Irish Monsoon Wedding" Part One,
featuring the amazing Brendan O'Brien, speaking about his daughter, Emma, above, who works for the Edith Wilkins Streetchildren Foundation in Darjeeling, India, and her wedding during Monsoon Season to Roshan Rai, also above, who is involved in "Mineral Springs" Organic Fair Trade Tea there. (Direct from Darjeeling's Mineral Springs Farmers' Co-operative, the tea is available in Dublin and Cork Oxfam Shops, as well as in Cork's Quay Co-op). Brendan shares his thoughts and feelings on his only daughter's imminent wedding, here:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Diwali

This in haste - today is the day you can lure wealth and prosperity in your door by lighting candles, lamps, and even switching on electric lights, according to what is says on the BBC website, quoted below.
Worth a try!:

"Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is the most popular of all the festivals from South Asia, and is also the occasion for celebrations by Jains and Sikhs as well as Hindus.

The festival of Diwali extends over five days. Because of the lights, fireworks, and sweets involved, it's a great favourite with children.

The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance, although the actual legends that go with the festival are different in different parts of India.

The Times of India summed up the modern meaning of Diwali:
"Regardless of the mythological explanation one prefers, what the festival of
lights really stands for today is a reaffirmation of hope, a renewed
commitment to friendship and goodwill, and a religiously sanctioned
celebration of the simple - and some not so simple - joys of life."
Times of India editorial

In Britain, as in India, the festival is a time for thoroughly spring-cleaning the home and for wearing new clothes and most importantly, decorating buildings with fancy lights.

The date of Diwali is set by the Hindu calendar and so it varies in the Western calendar. It usually falls in October or November.

Diwali is a New Year festival in the Vikrama calendar, where it falls on the night of the new moon in the month of Kartika.

Business people regard it as a favourable day to start a new accounting year because of the festival's association with the goddess of wealth.

Diwali is also used to celebrate a successful harvest.

The name of the festival comes from the Sanskrit word dipavali, meaning row of lights.

Diwali is known as the 'festival of lights' because houses, shops, and public places are decorated with small earthenware oil lamps called diyas. These lamps, which are traditionally fueled by mustard oil, are placed in rows in windows, doors and outside buildings to decorate them.

The lamps are lit to help the goddess Lakshmi find her way into people's homes. They also celebrate one of the Diwali legends, which tells of the return of Rama and Sita to Rama's kingdom after fourteen years of exile.

In towns (and in Britain) electric lights are often used in Diwali displays.

In India oil lamps are often floated across the river Ganges - it is regarded as a good omen if the lamp manages to get all the way across.

Fireworks are also a big part of the Diwali celebrations, although in recent years there has been a move against them because of noise and atmospheric pollution and the number of accidental deaths and injuries.

Two Goddesses in particular are celebrated at Diwali: Lakshmi and Kali.
Lakshmi, wealth and prosperity
For many Indians the festival honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.

People start the new business year at Diwali, and some Hindus will say prayers to the goddess for a successful year.

Some people build a small altar to the goddess and decorate it with money and with pictures of the rewards of wealth, such as cars and houses.
Celebrating Lakshmi Hindus will leave the windows and doors of their houses open so that Lakshmi can come in. Rangoli are drawn on the floors - rangoli are patterns and the most popular subject is the lotus flower. This because images of Lakshmi traditionally show her either holding a lotus or sitting on one.

There is much feasting and celebration, and the Diwali lamps are regarded as making it easy for Lakshmi to find her way to favoured houses.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Marty Kelly - Art London 2009 Catalogue Note

Like the best of contemporary dance, Marty Kelly’s recent paintings exude a dreamy ambiguity – that stuff that exists in between the words. So it makes sense that he’s finding inspiration with a couple of contemporary dancers in Barcelona – bypassing the intellect to get straight to some visceral feeling and truth.

Far from his home on Donegal’s remote and windswept Inishowen peninsula, contemporary dance stopped wandering painter Marty Kelly in his tracks while he was travelling through Switzerland a few years back. Crossing paths with Quebec’s Dave St. Pierre Dancers was a revelation to him. “It was amazing to me. There was a connection between my work, our intentions, the common music we used and were inspired by, and the dancers”. Up until then Kelly had been travelling through places like Sarajevo in search of inspiration. After this serendipitous meeting, he began to find something matching “the incredible human spirit that lasts on and burns on in these conflicts” - the truth he wanted to paint - in dancers’ bodies.

Contemporary dance is all about getting back to a deep inner truth buried within the body. Was it the pure emotion of contemporary dance, unencumbered by words that drew him in? Had his eureka moment to do with the rawness, the strange, tough beauty which he felt, correctly, was “never allowing romance to fully overtake the reality, but elements of both”? For how can you do tutu’s after contemplating atrocities, and places of conflict as Kelly did in recent years? Far from the prettiness of Edward Degas’s limbering-up ballerinas, Kelly began to immerse himself in the more unlikely stuff that contemporary dance celebrates: “…the beauty in the awkward poses and the in-between. A moment before an action or a bowed head after a clatter of movement”.

Kelly began to work in his Barcelona studio with contemporary dancers Merryn Kritzinger, and Ygal Tsur – videoing them, photographing them, and painting them. They listened to his intentions, and to his music, and danced. (Kelly couldn’t imagine painting without music – at the moment it’s classical minimalists Max Richter, Johan Johansson, John Williams, and Nathan Larson).

It’s no surprise then that through that downright honesty of muscles, physical exertion, and the sweat of contemporary dance Kelly is right in there, into the non-verbal, and the eloquently visceral. Here, where there is no posing. Kelly rubs out faces, details, smudges them, and re-creates his models into floating, glunky, out-of-focus ethereal creatures. Essences. I imagine him distilling these essences out through their movement as if in some sort of alchemical filtering process. On his canvas then elphin and otherworldly presences emerge.

Just like the power of dance revealed itself to him in composer Johann Johansson’s collaborations with dancer Erna Omarsdottir, “exposed and raw and honest, sensitive and very real art”, this is beautiful work in flesh and blood from a sure hand and mind. Sure like the hand and mind of a dancer, perhaps.

So what do I see here of contemporary dance? The interiority of it; the “right now” of it; the velocity of it; the stubborn refusal to be just “pretty”; its contrary nature; its home in the ambiguous, fudged-up in-between; its dynamic energy - its vitality.

Like in contemporary dance, the vagueness, and the moments of emptiness in these paintings, add up to an enticing open invitation to the viewer to project him or herself into the work of art.

By-passing head-energy, the intellect, the blah blah blah/ parler pour rien dire of words, Marty Kelly gets right underneath misleading externals to plug in to the power of the unspoken. Accessing the raw, visceral emotion of alive, pulsating bodies Kelly unleashes that power through these floating bodies, submerged bodies, bodies in transit, bodies in motion, and bodies without background. Harnessing the anarchic energy of contemporary dance onto his canvas, in his latest work Kelly accesses and conveys a rich and yes, incredible human spirit. That sort of thing is elusive, but through his strategies Marty Kelly has caught us a beautiful glimpse of it here.