Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mayday Mayday : Time to be Social

It's all illustration-related stuff round here at the mo. Off to the Candy & IGI event at the Sugar Club tonight, then on Sunday it's back to the Twisted Pepper for the next installment of club nights from The Small Print. This one is called The Social, and once again myself and a cohort of pen pals will be a-doodlin' and a squigglin' large-format-stylee to beat the band. Well, to complement the DJ actually. This time we'll be drawing on large sheets of transparent acrylic, with flourescent markers under UV lights, so the whole scene should be somewhat GLOWtastic, daddio.

Why not drop by for good beats, good beer, good times? And say hi if you do - I'll be the lanky, baldish guy with startled creatures oozing out me markertips.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sweettalk 34 : IGI flavoured Candy

Something a little special for all you fans of the drawn image.

CandyCollective & the Illustrators Guild of Ireland (IGI) proudly present a special Illustration SweetTalk featuring presentations by… Ros Shiers [London, UK] and IGI Members Jonathan McHugh [Belfast, NI] and Steve Simpson [Dublin, IRL]. I was chatting to Steve last weekend at the Walker Books symposium, which was a wonderful event. Steve's a fantastic illustrator who has been moving steadily in the area of children's books for the last while. This should be a really interesting evening, with three quite different illustrators in the rooom, talking about their work and approach.

This one-off event will be held this Thursday, April 30th 2009 at the Sugar Club, 8 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2. Doors @ 7pm. More info on event and speakers can be found on the CandyCollective website. Get your tickets fast as these events sell out quick! Admission is €10 plus booking fee. Tickets are available here. I'll be there - hoping to see a few familiar faces.

Also present at the Walker books gig was Poetry Ireland webmaster and blogger supreme Dave Maybury, who's just about to embark on a period of globehopping. I missed his going away drinks that evening - due to ongoing daddytaxi obligations - so missed his being-barbered-for-charity bit too. Best of luck on the travels Dave - may your ears enjoy the tropical breeze!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Alackaday : JG Ballard RIP

“Twenty years ago no one could have imagined the effects the Internet would have: entire relationships flourish, friendships prosper…there’s a vast new intimacy and accidental poetry, not to mention the weirdest porn. The entire human experience seems to unveil itself like the surface of a new planet.”

JG Ballard, 15 Nov 1930 – 19 April 2009, RIP

** UPDATE ** There's a nice review of the man and his work by Irish writer Patrick Chapman over at Eyewear.

Walker Books : The Story in the Picture

THE leading children's book publisher Walker Books and The Reading Centre at The Church of Ireland Collegeof Education come together to present The Story in the Picture, a day of conversations about making picture books, featuring Patrick Benson, Bruce Ingman and our very own Niamh Sharkey, accompanied by Deirdre McDermott and Lizzie Spratt from Walker Books.

The event takes place this Saturday 25th April 2009, from 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. at the Reading Centre at The Church of Ireland College of Education, 96 Upper Rathmines Road, Dublin 6.

This sounds like a really great opportunity to get below the skin of the processes involved in creating picture books.
The speakers are all seriously talented individuals, and very experienced in their field. While the emphasis might seem to be on illustration, it's bound to be of use to writers who are interested in this area too.

The cost is a very reasonable €35 (students €20) to include coffee/tea and lunch. Click here for a flyer about the event or contact or telephone 01 4970033 for further information.

Friday, April 17, 2009

RHA Annual Exhibition : White Smoke, Daddio!

I'm chuffed! Just got word back from the RHA that two of my submitted paintings have been selected for the 179th Annual Exhibition. Yay!

The third painting almost got there too - making it into the 'possible' category, before losing out in the second round selection. For me, this is A Very Cool Thing. To have one piece selected would be cool enough - two feels like some kind of objective vote of confidence - that this work is speaking to an audience.

Cardamom III above, is one of the pieces selected. It's only a wee thing - about 210 x 150mm, (framed in a double window mount under glass). The other selected piece is Cardamom II.

So, if you make your way to Ely Place between 26 May - 25 July this year, you can play 'Hunt-The-Nolan' along the gem-packed walls of the RHA Galleries. You can see more of my paintings here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Talking Books : Bolger in Deansgrange

‘Talking Books’ is a series of intimate public conversations by novelist, playwright and poet Dermot Bolger with leading Irish writers about the art of writing and the everyday practices, routines and difficulties involved with creating a sustained piece of literature. Presented by DLR Arts in association with the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Library Service, they will take place in Deansgrange Library. Further info here.

The series kicks off tonight with Bolger talking to Gerard Donovan, author of Schopenhauer’s Telescope and Julius Winsome.

This should be good, but I'll have to miss tonight's gig, as my writers group - Deansgrange Writers - is meeting, frustratingly, just up the road. I'd like to hear Donovan speak, having enjoyed his collection of short stories, Country of the Grand, last year. While a bit inconsistent, the overall tone was very impressive, with a number of excellent stories. You can read an interview with him about that book here.

I think the 'Talking Books' Series will be appearing online as podcasts at some point, similar to the previous 'Library Voices' series, which is available here.

Bolger is also writing a number of 'How to..' essays on the writing process, which will appear in three free newsletters, over the coming weeks. Here's a quote from the first;

"Writing a novel is almost like opening an imaginary hotel for the phantoms of your subconscious mind. You cannot be guaranteed that any guests are going to turn up on any given night, but you need to have the light on and the door open just in case they do."

I like that.

** UPDATE : Anybody go along to this? ***

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter MASHing : This ain't no mudd club, or CBGB

So, yes. I diddlyiddly doodlyoodled. No Heaney. No Jesus. No Lily. Nada but La Middle Abbey Strada for me this Easter. Well, to be truthful, I'd had a couple of days gardening, then a big Easter lunch, before heading in to the Twista Peppa to make some biggly squigglies. Nice people, nice beer, no eggs, good craic. Donal Dineen on the divil's cogs created a great vibe for making marker marks, including a very smooth remix which I hadn't heard before of the track Paris, from the excellent debut album from Friendly Fires (one of my favourites from last year).

That's me 'contributing' above. You can check out some of other snazz drawings from the club over on Posca Pen Pal Chris Judge's blog.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cill Rialaig : Retreat to Advance

Thanks to Nuala for news of a private viewing of Emer Martin’s exhibition “Oh Rider of the White Horse” based on ‘stories’ by seanachaí Seán Ó Connaill at the Origin Gallery next week. The main purpose of the evening is to inform writers about the proposed 6 MONTH (!) WRITERS RESIDENCY PROGRAMME AT THE CILL RIALAIG RETREAT in KERRY from OCTOBER 2009 – MARCH 2010.

You are invited to go and have a glass of wine this Thursday 16th April 2009 from 6.30 – 8.30pm at the Origin Gallery, 83 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2 and hear what writer and artist Emer Martin got from the Cill Rialaig Experience.

I went to Cill Rialaig for 2 weeks in February 2007, thanks to my understanding family (who probably enjoyed the break too). I found it to be a splendid isolation, which did wonders for my head, heart and the scruffy bag of metaphysic that passes for a soul.

Participants are given the use of restored (rebuilt, actually) houses - on the site of a small village, deserted since Famine times. The basic, yet comfortable accommodation is (was?) free, with an expectation that visitors will donate something to the project. Be churlish not to. It's easy to donate visual art, for sale in the gallery there - not sure how writers might donate (royalties?) other than in cash? I'd guess an anthology may be in the offing at some point.

I can highly recommend it. The rugged beauty of the area is one benefit, also the solitude - although one can choose to commune with visitors in the other houses, or not. The site is apparently named for a 'church of the regular orders' - a long-departed community of monks, whose atmospheric, but easily-missed settlement ruins are sheep-enhanced a little further up Bolus Head. There is long, deep history here. It's a good base for exploring the wider area too, if you bring car or bike.

Thinking about it now, I'm hankering to return. But it won't be for a while yet.

The slideshow above shows work-in-progress photos from my visit, and here's a poem, likewise;

Last Night in Seán’s House

There’s handwriting upon the sea
But not a one can read it

Churning surf below the head
Is marble in the night

Beyond the swollen stomach earth
Skellig teeth are waiting

Away by Coomanaspic, six bar gates
Are fluting tube steel airs

Wind sings the empty flue
Pierces seams of window sash

Mozart consecrates the room
Yet here I am alone

Layered up under rafters, duvet
And an ashen sleeping bag

On Bolus Head tonight within
these walls of re-awakened stone

edit: © PJ Nolan 2009

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

MASH : An Easter Revel

The Small Print is a new venture from Richard Seabrooke and BrenB, formerly of Candy Collective. Now, in association with BodyTonic they're launching MASH, a new series of bank holiday parties at The Twisted Pepper combining music, art, visuals, guest talks, spoken word & lots of other groovy happenings.

The first MASH takes place this Easter Sunday throughout the 4 rooms of that venue. Donal Dineen,, Shock, Dublin Streets and The Small Print have all come together for the makings of a riproaring evening kicking off at 9pm & running till 3am. I'll be there, improvising, doodling murals and suchlike around the venue with a bunch of other artniks including BrenB, Chris Judge, Dave Comiskey, Joven Kerekes, Phil Dunne and Steve Doogan.

Should be a lot of fun - why not come along and burn off some of them Easter Eggs! Tickets are €5 from here : and will be €10 on the night

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Royal Hibernian Academy : Maybe (maybe not)

Well, the deed is done - the lure is cast - the stable door is open - the countdown has begun - yadda, yadda, cliche, bloody yadda.

Last Friday I handed in my submission for this years Royal Hibernian Academy Annual Exhibition. It's all in the hands of the RHA assessment committee now.

Every year, hundreds of hopeful artists do their paperwork, pay their fee and hand in their artworks in the hope of selection. By the time RHA Members' own artwork allocations and any invited artists have been taken into account, it means there'll inevitably be a lot of disappointed entrants. I believe only about one in ten works made the cut from the open submission process last year. I've been unsuccessful to date, having only entered work intermittently down the years - sometimes due to lack of confidence in the work, sometimes lack of advance preparation, sometimes lack of the few quid for the entrance fee. This year, I've submitted 3 small, related paintings - Cardamom I pictured above - so.... fingers crossed! It's a very similar feeling to submitting a manuscript for publication. Should know one way or th'other in the next couple of weeks though, which is a faster response than most publishers.

The exhibition usually gets a very good attendance and is often an interesting overview of current Irish painting, in particular. It would be an achievement to be selected for exhibition alongside work by more established, recognised artists - and exhibit work to a wide and knowledgeable audience.

To my eyes, recent years have seen the exhibition refresh itself somewhat - the selection policy perhaps a little less conservative than in the past? The recent re-modelling of the RHA gallery has also created a cleaner, modular exhibition space - well suited to contemporary exhibits. The RHA has been busy re-inventing itself, without losing touch with tradition - here's hoping there's space for a wee Nolan or two in the mix.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Heaney Factor : Snipe and Awe

I'll try to make this the last Heaney-themed post for a while - but there's a couple of interesting tidbits related to the man's work which have recently popped up online.

One of those pesky lit-scraps is blossoming nicely over at The Jacket, where poet Jeffrey Side takes issue with comments made by Heaney regarding perceptions of the 'avante-garde'. Sides sees this as revealing Heaney's sensitivities to criticism of his own poetic as being ' ...distinctly old-fashioned, a sort of neo-Georgian retrogressive "poetic" utterance.'

Needless to say, there are plenty of alternate points of view, resulting in a growing body of response to Side's article, with contributions from Jamie McKendrick, Todd Swift and our own, ever-fluent, Desmond Swords among others.

In counterpoint, Mark Thwaite has a short interview with Dennis O'Driscoll about Stepping Stones - his book of interviews with Heaney - over at The Book Depository (a great online bookstore, just in the middle of a major overhaul).