Tyrone Guthrie Centre residency

I know, I know, I haven’t written for ages! I’ve been so busy trying to get some work finished for different exhibitions and submissions, I haven’t had a moment to even think about a blog.
But, I arrived in heaven to spend a week. As I drove north towards Monaghan with the car packed to explosion point with art materials, I went “Whew!”

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I was travelling to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre for a week’s residency. I have long thought about coming here, but never had the courage to apply. Last year I decided it was now or never, sent off my application, and was accepted.

They kindly offered me the use of the print studio, but, typically, I totally forgot to ask what was provided there. So, in preparation to come and too embarrassed by my stupidity, I began to panic a little and I started to fill the car with various bits and pieces. There were so many “what ifs”... What if the studio is basic, or worse “green”, and I arrive expecting solvents and oil-based inks? Better pack all those. There probably wouldn’t be any newspapers, scrim, acid free tissue, blotters, rollers etc. Better pack those too. What if I have a brain freeze and find I can’t print? Better bring all the drawing stuff, drawing boards and lots of paper. By this stage the car was resembling a mobile art supply shop, with barely enough room for my small suitcase – or me. As I went out the door of the house, kissing goodbye to LSH (long suffering husband), and Squeak, Missy and Blue (the cats), with my list in hand, I suddenly realized that I’d forgotten my toothbrush and coat! Not a great start to the trip!

This is a lovely time of the year: the weather was glorious and the countryside was filled with that beautiful pale, baby green colour that you only get in springtime. I felt as if I was in a Bord Failte ad!
There are no sign posts for the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, or at least I didn’t spot any, and the car satnav informed me that it would only lead me to it’s general vicinity. So when Muriel, the voice in the dashboard, barked at me to turn onto a very narrow road which was grassy in the centre at times, I really thought she’d lost the plot. Just as I was about to turn back, I spotted Maggie’s Cottage and I had a vague recollection that this was mentioned on the website. Just beyond this, with Muriel’s dulcet tones still ringing in my ears, I arrived at the main gate.

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There is a beautiful drive up to the main house which has a lake in front. I had the code to get into the house, and what a house! It is beautifully furnished, but there was no one about, it was like discovering the Marie Celeste! I wandered all over the house, found the sitting room, dining room, kitchen, office, I even walked into some of the bedrooms! Not a soul to be found. I then phoned the office, no answer. Eventually I did meet a writer and she was able to show me the attic room where I am staying, (which is gorgeous by the way!)

I then had a walk around the grounds as the weather was so good. It is unbelievably beautiful, I took lots of photos which I may use while I’m here.

Everyone staying in the big house is expected to eat dinner together and I half dreaded this. Would they be all talking about themselves or worse, the great work they were making? Would they be like peacocks strutting about? Would they be terrible art snobs or intellectuals? Actually none of the above! They are a lovely lot, a Canadian watercolourist, a Dutch painter, two sound artists, and four writers. We had a great dinner together and I was even able to get a glass of wine!

And as for the print studio, I needn’t have brought half the things and probably only needed to bring paper! There are two fab etching presses, inks, solvents, blotters, even gelatine rollers! Tonight as I write, I think the lack of signage for here might be deliberate, as I certainly don’t want anyone to discover this paradise.