Cill Rialaig is an artists’ village set right on the cliffs on a peninsula, not far from Ballinskelligs. Creatives stay in self- contained cottages/ studios that are beautifully restored 18th century stone buildings, many with thatched rooves. There is a communal cottage that houses a library and collection of interesting objects. While I was there, I met a film-maker, a photographer, a musician, a printmaker and several other painters.
My recovering injury made it hard for me to get about – besides, I didn’t have a car. I had to be content with my immediate vicinity and what a vicinity it was! I only had to go out of my door and there was enough to see and keep me occupied all day. We were blessed with fabulous weather which meant I could draw and paint outside in March. Each day, I walked a little further up the track till, on my last day, I managed to walk to end of the peninsula and was rewarded with a view of the Skellig Michael islands.
For some reason, I had previously decided that I would work on small gouaches and brought with me gessoed boards and about fifty different colours. Cill Rialaig, felt, to me however, an expansive and tonal place. I needed large paper and charcoal and ink –little of which I had! Luckily people gave me things and I made my own charcoal by collecting pieces of driftwood, wrapping them in foil and burning them in my peat fire. I also had a concertina sketchbook, my first ever, which I could have used five times over.
I mainly drew, getting inspiration from the many ruins scattered about and the distant islands which came and went with the weather. It was a place which echoed past lives lived, sad yet beautiful in the shifting light. The welcome from the Cill Rialaig staff and the camaraderie of fellow artists made the place vibrant and thought provoking, yet wistfulness and melancholy were never far away. Perhaps something of these opposites comes across in my drawings.