Artful things

In some of my spare time I make art. Had I more spare time (or the power of bilocation or biological fission), I would make more art. Lots of all sorts of it. These days, when I can, I mostly create collages or set my colouring pencils loose on a sketchbook, but it would be gratifying to have the luxury of a weekend, a month, or a decade to play around with charcoals, clay, paint, pipe cleaners, and other willing materials. And I’d like to try my hand at stop-motion animation, and stained glass.

Stan Carey - Harry Clarke window

(Window by Harry Clarke, about whom more below.)

These days, though, I am too busy with editing work, volunteer work, writing, and countless other activities, online and off, to afford art more than a few evening hours at a time. No doubt many of you can empathise. The business of a busy world is to become busier in spite of one’s efforts to simplify.

Owing to all this industry and distraction, I don’t update Sentence first as often as I would like to. Thank you to my readers for your visits, comments and patience. Many recent posts have been lightweight ones about signs or typos, rather than detailed ones about English grammar and usage, since the latter type require more care and research. Luckily the content here does not date quickly!

Earlier in the week I was walking along the Promenade and noticed a series of drawings of dogs, presumably left by their altruistic artist. They were stuck on bins and walls, and one was simply propped up on a bench. I took a few photos and wondered about the who and the why. Here are a couple of them:

Stan Carey - Salthill dog drawing 1


Stan Carey - Salthill dog drawing 2

(The text on the mural says: “These are the days we hang our souls upon, and high above them, as the sun withdraws we hang up the moon.”)

Later, inspired by an intriguing set of photos at Doubtful’s place, I decided to upload a few photos here under the general theme of art. (Imagine a capital A on the word, if you prefer; me, I’m easy.) The plan was to showcase found art or seen art. Public art. Visual evidence of Everyman’s and Everywoman’s ever-potential everyday creativity. Not this man’s, though: I will spare my readers my own efforts, for now.

Although Galway has its architectural gems, it is not renowned for this artistic form — but it is full of talented painters, illustrators, sketch artists and so on. Musicians, too, but that’s another year’s work. While organising my digital photos — two steps forward, five steps back; see also: books — I set some snaps aside for blog posts dedicated to local street art and imaginative shop fronts. All (or at least some) in good time. Here is one recent example of each:

Stan Carey - Galway street art - TVs


Stan Carey - Galway shoe shop with legs

Finally, a dose of the sublime:

Stan Carey - sculpture in Crawford Art Gallery

And the… well, I haven’t figured this one out yet, but it seems that some circuses treat their animals too well:

Stan Carey - kissing circus camel

The camel-kissing image is on the side of a circus lorry currently in town. The sculpture is in the excellent Crawford Art Gallery in Cork, which I visited a few months ago. I’m sorry I lost the sculptor’s name. In the gallery I had the good fortune to stumble on a small exhibition of illustrations and stained-glass windows by Harry Clarke, whose work reveals a virtuoso originality.

A friend of mine wrote her thesis on Clarke’s illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination, a favourite book of my then-twenty-something self. An evening of thumbing through her lush edition of the book, complete with Clarke’s intense, beautiful and nightmarish contributions, was my first proper exposure to his illustrations.

It took a while for me to sleep that night: not through fear of Clarke’s macabre visions, but because my mind raced with the unexpected thrill of being witness to his genius. Creativity is inherent in life, and though it manifests more purely in some than in others, the decision to make art for its own sake is both amazing and perfectly natural.

Everyone is capable of picking up a pen, a brush, or a piece of plasticine, and tuning in to something deeper and stranger than our “selves”. The art I see on the walls, streets and bins of Galway might not attain the inspired heights of historical masterpieces, but it is no less vital for that. We need art now more than ever, and whether it’s good or bad is far less important than whether its intent is noble.

9 Responses to Artful things

  1. I’m lucky, living in Wexford, to have several Harry Clarke windows within easy driving distance (in Wexford Town, Gorey, and a small church just outside Arklow, although the latter two are only open during services, being CoI) and recently saw his Crucifixion window in Terenure, which is very impressive. But, as you’re on th’other side of the country: have you been to Loughrea Cathedral, which I hear houses a quite amazing collection of glass form An Tur Gloine? (BTW, the TVs are very amusing!)

  2. Goddamnit, I really need to check my comments before posting! “Form” indeed! I’ve looked into making stained glass myself, but as it involves a lot of technical expertise (and access to a kiln!) I decided to stick, for the moment, with LeFranc & Bourgeois glass paint. Easy to use, and little risk of ingesting powdered glass or burning the house down!

  3. Stan says:

    Doubtful: To my shame I have not visited the cathedral in Loughrea, but I’ve added it to a list of cultural sorties necessary when I become more mobile again. Shortly after writing this post I remembered making a small vitrail-in-a-kit as a kid, and hanging it in front of the kitchen window where it used to catch the morning sun in a modestly spectacular fashion. It was no Sainte Chapelle, but it delighted me all the same. Glass paint is probably a better idea at this stage though – thanks for the tip!

  4. That’s not a circus I’ll be bringing my kids to. What’s the encore, fellating clowns?

  5. Stan says:

    That’s a striking image, Allan. Not even the Circus of Horrors boasted those.

    For what it’s worth, here’s the clown in question.

  6. I could develop quite an interest in secular stained glass – I’ve been keeping an eye on jaboopee’s creations at And it was good to see unexpected photos on the walls of the old buildings of Galway during the Ocean Race. I hope you make time for experimentation with art, and post the results.

  7. Stan says:

    Pretty far west: Yes, the photos on Galway buildings were such a great surprise, and they’re still there, or at least some of them are. Thank you for the link to jaboopee’s art – her glass work is lovely!

  8. Claudia says:

    Fascinating post. Thank you. In my youth, I had been nursing the Crees on James Bay. Returning, in the 90s, to say hello to old friends, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the 15 stained glass windows of the Cathedral, in Moosonee, had been replaced with Native Art. The still religious themes are also depicting the Aboriginal life style. It’s marvellous to see the sun shining on Jesus fishing with the Crees, surrounded by the animals of the land. This is when Art can truly speak to people’s heart.

    Also appreciated very much the link to jaboopee. I hope we can see your works sometimes, Stan.

  9. Stan says:

    You’re welcome, Claudia! Thank you for the lovely tale and for sending me photos of those interesting vitraux. It is a pleasure to see different faiths and heritages finding some of the common ground we all share, but which is often overlooked in favour of our arbitrary differences.

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