Saturday, March 3, 2012

friends to affinity


My friend Geraldine was already an excellent artist when we met in Vancouver many years ago. Amazingly adept at drawing, I'd be aghast when she threw away nearly completed illustrations that didn't meet her ideal, a habit that lead me to collecting several wonderful examples of her work from the trash bin in her room. Her art training, including a meticulous attention to detail I envied, had been honed in Ireland, a place that's quite synonymous to me with the word magic. Geraldine's artwork was always elementally whimsical, and very captivating.

She and her family returned to Southern Ireland at about the same time as I moved to the US with the result that although we didn't completely lose touch, there have often been long periods without much contact and I never got to see what she'd been painting and making. Just recently she emailed me some photographs of work she's done over the years. The one posted above came as quite a surprise since it's a painting of one of the world's little known famous female pirates (if such a term be allowed), Gráinne Ni Mháille,  Queen of Umaill and chieftan of the clan Ó Máille.

Also known as Grace O'Malley, her story reads like a wild adventure fiction but there's history as well as myth in the legend of the Irish noblewoman who led a band of 200 sea-raiders from the coast of Galway in the sixteenth century. Twice widowed, twice imprisoned, fighting her enemies both Irish and English for her rights,  she was condemned for piracy, and finally pardoned in London by Queen Elizabeth herself.  Gráinne was one of the few sea-raiders to retire from the sea and die in her own bed as an old, respected, and very rich woman. Geraldine's portrait of her captures the sea queen's power and determination most vividly.


Among the dozen or so images was a cryptic painting titled 'Sherrach'. It's a beautiful picture in colour and form, but not knowing what story Geraldine was referring to I decided to see if there was a definition to be found in the name. The only word that came close was a Scottish one meaning rumpus or a noisy squabble. The painting may not have anything to do with arguments but the clash between water and sky seemed a fit setting for the two beings sheltering from the tempest.





Like many artists Geraldine was never one to stick to a particular medium so it was great to see some of her sculptures. This one, called Con Gái (daughter in Vietnamese), was carved during an art for peace festival held in Hanoi more than a decade ago.

















Then there's this little beauty that left me speechless. Nobody other than my dear friend Geraldine  could have envisioned this deeply aware yet innocent goddess.

Such is friendship that sometimes our best conversations contain no words at all.

♡ Erin go Bragh

24 comments:

  1. wonderful post. Her art is enchanting

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    1. Thanks, Kay. I've always thought so too.

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  2. I love the movement and espressiveness in the paintings. And I see the Irish mythical qualities in all of these. What an interesting artist and friend! Thanks for sharing...

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    1. I'm very glad you like them. Geraldine has always been an inspiration to me.

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  3. Wonderful! Grace O Malley's story is amazing isn't it

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    1. One of my favourite stories about her was the time she had the lead roof of her castle melted so she could pour it on the English soldiers who were trying to get inside.

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  4. What a wonderful mixture of beauty and information in your post.

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    1. I'm glad you came by to enjoy it.

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  5. I heard about Granny O'Malley through Shaun Davey's wonderful song cycle Granuaile when I was working in Ireland. Then I bought a book about her life.

    Very lovely works of art by Geraldine. I'm wondering about her surname, which I don't think you have mentioned.

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    1. Thanks for the link to the album. I sampled some of the songs and found them very lovely.

      It was a mistake not putting Geraldine's last name in the body of the post but it is in the label at the bottom. She is Geraldine Creedon who is not to be found on any website.. unfortunately.

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  6. I think you might have posted a link to Geraldine's website, or a show she was in once upon a time.... some of this looks familiar. Her colors are so spontaneous and free..... as if they put themselves there, with no human intervention. Magical describes them perfectly.

    Irish joke of the day:

    She: Me sister's gettin' married next week.

    He: Oh, really?

    She: No, O'Malley

    :0)

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    1. Hello again. Unfortunately, as I just mentioned to Vincent, Geraldine doesn't have a web/internet presence. That's why I was so delighted to get her email with the attached pictures. I'm sure she'll be happy to know you enjoyed seeing a few.

      Excellent joke, btw :-)

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  7. Wow, that "Sherrach" is really beautiful! And, as you may have noticed from a previous comment about pirates, Granuaile has long been a bit of a heroine for me :-)

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    1. 'Sherrach' really amazed me as well.

      Oh yes, I do know you've long been an admirer of Granuaile and for good reason too.

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  8. I like Geraldine's paintings very much but oh, those sculptures - both took me breathless; especially the goddess to be cast in bronze. I wonder about the dimensions...

    What a gift it is when friends share their talents with us. :-) xxoo

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    1. Yes, her sculptures are very fine and so tenderly realized. Geraldine wasn't yet sculpting during the years we spent together so I was taken aback too. I've no idea of the size the small goddess may be but it reminds me a bit of 'The Little Dancer' by Degas.

      Isn't that why we have friends?
      xoxo

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  9. That second painting is the cover of some great, long lost acid folk record. These are uber-swanky.

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    1. You're right - perhaps the Incredible String Band?

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  10. geraldine is a talented artist and that second painting blows me out of the water. no pun intended. and that last wax cast is gorgeous and will be astounding.... do you ever see her? quite a distance from there to there i suppose. do you know we are still in the 70's here and no rain at all? i am beginning to think we won't get any and no snow pack either...of course. still nice there. weird geraldine was thinking of grace o'malley too, ins't it....strange synchronicity!!

    sorry i have been off doing the wordpress gig...finally got it wrenched away from google but they do keep a copy online or whatever...stupid. and it's being spammed a lot still so am starting under a diff. name and will let you know. much love, my dear. xoxoxo

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    1. I'm glad you were able to come by and see them, my friend. No, Geraldine and I haven't met in person in about 25 years and that was briefly after we hadn't seen each other the previous 9. The nice thing about love is that it continues in spite of distance.

      I'll look forward to getting your new web address and hope there'll be no more problems.
      xoxo

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  11. when you have such talented friends, I count myself lucky indeed to know you!

    and it is no accident that the most interesting women are those who stand outside the normal customs of their era :)

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    1. Geraldine's husband is another friend who is also a fine artist. Maybe one day he'll send some pictures I can share.

      I think removing ourselves from normal customs is the first step to becoming interesting :-) I'm glad to know you too.

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  12. Sherrach, Port Sherrach - place in Scotland.
    http://www.castleduncan.com/forum/index.php?/topic/4140-ardchonnel-innischonnel-castle/
    Also
    A sherracking is Scots dialect for a very public dressing down , usually given by a wife to a wayward husband, who had drunk or gambled away the housekeeping or had a fancy woman. The aim being to shame and humiliate the sinner in front of as many friends and neighbours as possible

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    1. Thanks very much for the information, WJohn. That sounds like the most logical explanation I've heard.. and funny too.

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