Rockforest, The Burren, Co. Clare
It’s 8 o’clock in the morning of any given Saturday in winter, it’s still dark but I have to get up, light the wooden stove and make the art room warm and welcome by 10 am.
The art of a good Saturday requires a very precise routine, discipline and attention to details, a bit like the Japanese tea ceremony except that, instead of kimonos we’ll all be wearing boots and woolen jumpers.
At around 10 o’clock people start to arrive and nobody is in a rush. We are in the country where time has a different meaning. Time for the fog to lift, for the cows to cross the road, time to stop at the lake and admire the view and generally, time to fully wake up before starting to seriously paint (though that doesn’t really happen until after the coffee break).
So the first part of the morning is spent in a dreamy realm where the general mood shifts and changes along with the weather and the light, which is about every five minutes.
This season each person is working on developing a personal theme and solving technical challenges, but always in good spirit and with plenty of support from the group.
When coffee break is announced there are sighs of relief. There will be a new cake to sample (Carmel is in charge of baking the cakes, Margaret when Carmel is away), news need to be exchanged (anything from farming issues to the current financial crisis) and tips on how to do things well around the house (last week was the use of vinegar for cleaning the windows).
My husband John gets to play the host and influences the topics of conversation while brewing more coffee and tea.
After that, on returning to the art room re-energized by caffeine, everybody’s creativity starts to flow and there is no stopping it! In a flurry of activity the production of serious work is unleashed and the last hour passes in a flash. Creative energy is palpable in the air and silence descend over the group.
As people start to leave we remind each others of the next dates, we check who will be here and who’ll be away and for how long.
By now the fog has lifted, the sun has come and gone, the rain is closing in and another good Saturday was artfully spent.