My Residency at Uillinn ended two weeks ago. I was meaning to write this blog post straight after but got so busy once back in Edinburgh that I’m only managing to catch up now.
It felt good to link the past to the present by returning to my childhood home and forming new relationships as an adult. I left Skibbereen with a good feeling of having met many wonderful people and having collected a lot of good material which I look forward to exploring in more detail. In this post I will show the latest drawings I did in Skibb and give some insight into the conversations I recorded during my visits to people’s homes.
The following 3 drawings were done during a trip to Schull. The very first one is of the scene opposite the bus stop where I was waiting and the second was done on board the bus. As I don’t travel very well, it was a bit of a challenge to be drawing on the bus, and it took me a wee while to recover! The third drawing is of the main street in Schull while waiting for the bus back to Skibb. Schull is a scenic small town which lies in a beautiful bay and the weather and light was great that day. Its only much later that I realised the drawing did not reflect this at all but in fact turned out rather grimm!
The next two drawings were done during a visit to the Corner Bar where traditional live music is played on a Monday evening. I couldn’t really see the musicians from where I was so I couldn’t draw them. But let me tell you that the music was lovely. I think pubs are one of the best places to study people. They’re usually deep in thought or conversation and are not aware of you. If they do realise you are drawing they never really seem to bother. Also, I must admit, my drawings often benefit from a pint!
That night I was introduced to the Corner Bar’s landlord William a.k.a. ‘The King of Skibbereen’ as I was told. A couple of days later I called in during the daytime and he told me some good anecdotes about the bar, its characters and the changes town life has seen over the past decades. I believe it’s always good to speak to the owner of a pub if you want to get to know the secrets of a town, and Williams family has been running the Corner Bar for 5 generations!
I had previously noticed a house next door which had a lot of faded old photographs on display in its large window. William told me about Michael, who had been a photographer since the 1940s and who lived in the house. I was curious to meet Michael and William was kind enough to knock at his door an introduce me within a few minutes. Michael invited me to his front room where he kept boxes and boxes of negatives from the past 70 years, and through which any funeral or wedding or event in the town was documented. While his budgie kept flying around the room and landing on his shoulder, Michael told me about how he wasn’t able to locate many of the photos he had taken in the many boxes piled up in his room. Of the photos displayed in the window he said:
“The pictures that are there, they were all named. And the years and the sun of course killed the ink writing and nobody knows what really they are. They were all named… every one of them. There are some of them there as well back as 1940.”
I experienced the same friendliness just opposite the road where Mona invited me to come and draw the interior of her home and very charming B&B. When stood in her living room I felt as though a massive still life had been set up for me to draw from with many weird and wonderful objects arranged in interesting ways. Here’s an extract from the conversation I had with Mona:
“I think I have but I don’t. I tell people I do clear out… they say ‘What! You must be joking. You never clear anything.’ Well, I’m always collecting bits and pieces like, It’s crazy. Why do I do it, it must mean something to me. It’s a setting, it’s like a set.”
A backstreet in Skibbereen. I enjoy drawing random and possibly overlooked places which often have a very own quiet and atmospheric beauty.
I plan to return to Skibb in order to continue gathering material for my project; in the meanwhile I will work on pieces inspired by my observations and recordings. Here are two examples of work I made in my Uillinn studio, based on sketchbook drawings.