northern ireland



“A puncture - a level of emotion” - Zarina Bhimji

Mental health does not and should not define who we are.

Work is dropped off to Newtownards!

Work is dropped off to Newtownards!


Umbrella destroyed by storm but the opening of “Bardo” was great. Great support from friends and a wonderful text written by Gemma Murphy.



“Sress is the killer of creativity” - Jamian Juliano Villani

Good sketchbook session tonight.

Good sketchbook session tonight.


Doodles to burn.


Cooley’ is gone. Very stale so had to go. A really old image of Helen has replaced it. It’s been a long time since I attempted this image.


Mask and orchard idea. Sucker for attempting old failures.



The prodigal ipod returns after nearly a year missing.

The prodigal ipod returns after nearly a year missing.


Study of Helen” - image is nine years old and I’ve tried to tackle it many many times but only now does it feel like I am making any sort of headway. Difficult to describe. “No Regrets” - push and pull between the two images.



Conscious decision to limit the palette initially. Sometimes there can be too much choice - especially when starting a new piece. Thinking that by limiting colour in the first stages it can help focus in on tonal values and composition a little more.

“ No Regrets ” - Painting in progress

No Regrets” - Painting in progress

Weekends aren’t long enough.


Couple kissing under a dark sky.

Geometric lines turn from canvas folds to forks of lightning.

Portrait with slightly opened lips.


Very impressed with the RUA show this year. Some really strong works. Also great to check out the Ulster Museum’s new acquisition of Cornelia Parker.

‘On Refusal’ in the MAC is brilliant - especially Troy Michie’s stunning collages.

David Sherry’s ‘Philosophical Society’ in the  Golden Thread Gallery  was a lot of fun!

David Sherry’s ‘Philosophical Society’ in the Golden Thread Gallery was a lot of fun!

Some unexpected speed curating from VAI was good fun and great to meet up with old friends.


Little visit to Fiona Stewart’s fabulous studio to be recorded for an upcoming podcast.





More work done to  “The Ferryman” . I think it’s lost any painterly charm.

More work done to “The Ferryman”. I think it’s lost any painterly charm.


‘Arena: Kusama Infinity’ - such a great artist!

“While the dead show dead art, living artists die.” - Yayoi Kusama

Hope springs eternal.


Great talk and workshop with Action Mental Health. Really positive and interesting feedback from the crowd.

Patrick Horan’s fantastic paintings in the Ards Art Centre’s Sunburst Gallery.

Patrick Horan’s fantastic paintings in the Ards Art Centre’s Sunburst Gallery.

Called into the Ards Art Centre for a quick chat and a little look at two shows opening; Gavin McCrea’s installation and Patrick Horan’s paintings.

Yusuke Asai’s amazing installation in the Golden Thread Gallery

Yusuke Asai’s amazing installation in the Golden Thread Gallery

At Late Night Art Mark McGreevy’s ‘Flop Sweat’ in the MAC is marvellous! Brilliant use of colour. ‘Knick Knacks and Whatnots’ by Cameron Morgan in University of Atypical is excellent. Blown away by the work on display in the Golden Thread’s “Noise of Silence: Japanese Art Now’ especially Yusuke Asai’s huge mud installations.


“Ferryman” is unusable.


Finally finished the middle panel from the originally conceived “Pioneer” triptych. Think it stands on it’s own merit.

More progress to the the ‘Cooley’ piece.


Sketchbook work tonight.



Really enjoyed “Memory: The Origin of Alien” documentary.

“At the Mountains of Madness” by HP Lovecraft.

“What will humanity find when they look in the dark places?”


Studio work - some additions of spray paint to ‘Cooley’ piece. Walked away before digging too far.

Little panel piece, “The Horror! The Horror” Speed is it’s friend. Wooden supports are responsive to gestural work - less so with the charcoal marks - more layers needed to achieve tonal quality I’m after.


Wonderful article about my time up at Action Mental Health.


Increase in productivity lately. Could it be a confidence thing? I’m working no more or no less than the slump periods. Is it a case of a fine tuning of better judgement when more at peace with practice? Plenty to look forward to in the coming months.




Notes: immediate drawing line combined with more deliberate painterly marks. Cross pollination.

“LW” = by removing the instrument of trauma can it be viewed in a miraculous or redemptive light?

Not spelling out the narrative - Great to sit down and chat about work and ideas with GM.

Visit to PS Squared and “How the Image Echos” show.


Sea Holly Gallery is absolutely stunning and wonderful work on from the 545 pop up group show. So good to see elements of the much loved Orpheus building back in an artistic sense.

Craig Donald ’s work alongside restored windows from the Orpheus building in the Sea Holly Gallery

Craig Donald’s work alongside restored windows from the Orpheus building in the Sea Holly Gallery


Finished little panel piece.

Finished little panel piece.





Studio work and “Dress Rehearsal Study” is getting there. It’s weird how every time I paint children they end up completely terrifying.

Ari Aster’s Midsommar is utterly amazing. Beautifully filmed and will stay with me for a long time.



Collection of work for “ Bardo ” show tomorrow morning.

Collection of work for “Bardo” show tomorrow morning.

Action Mental Health Talk and Workshop

On Thursday 5th September I visited Action Mental Health in Newtownards to give a talk and run a drawing workshop ahead of a new solo exhibition opening in the Ards Art Centre next month. In the talk I spoke about my work and how my own experiences of mental health issues relate and continue to be drawn into my practice. The feedback and the discussion from the clients and staff there was amazing and I want to thank everyone involved on the day.

AMH has written a wonderful article about the visit here.

“Bardo: An Unknown Country” preview will be from 7pm on Thursday 3rd October in the Ards Art Centre and aims to raise funds for Action Mental Health.

This exhibition has been made possible by the iDA award from University of Atypical which is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.


RDH: JULY 2019


Slow but important work on “Bogland” today. Thinking a lot about Sickert.

It’s been a rough week but finally seeing positives.

Sketchbook time.


Meditate and Release.


Found ‘failed’ middle panel of “Pioneer Studies”. Works on it’s own merit. Must have been a weak link at the time.

Rework maybe?

Rework maybe?


Submission sent. A glutton for punishment.


Bit later in the day for studio time but spent longer tonight to make up for it.

Some texture with sawdust.

Some texture with sawdust.

Colours are popping and really contrast from the blurred background. Still trying to maintain the mantra of “MAKE EVERY PAINTING A STUDY” but it’s hard when the focal point is a figure where it seems to be falling short.

More integration of sawdust needed? Question everything?

The smallest brush in the arsenal.

The smallest brush in the arsenal.


Didn’t get to sleep until 5am. It’s not my fault.

Crisp morning breeze. Brought a rose in.

Staring at work, the foreground, which I tolerated a few weeks ago, now seems flat. Texture, perspective and overlapping of light and shade required.





Ballydugan Mill

Ballydugan Mill


Amazing day at G &N’s wedding yesterday! Trying to get a bit of studio work in now before a much needed early night!


Frustrating. Two steps forward, two steps back. No better off but not worse off either.


“Never mind that nobody bought them! Do them! Tell your story!”

Faith Ringgold

“He who follows is always behind.”

Paul Cézanne


How to get back in the creative mindset?


“Asking for Trouble” - pen on paper

“Asking for Trouble” - pen on paper

‘What gets measured gets done’ is a quote is heard rattled around today.


Plenty of little niggly bits to run through. Let’s not fall into that usual trap of realism!


Am I focusing too much on that main figure?

b.s.r. detail

Right… don’t panic!


Strange birthday. Nothing bad, just strange.

Beautiful sketchbook from Jan.

Beautiful sketchbook from Jan.


Didn’t get through. Plough on!


Intense building.


Trying not to waste to so much paint. Working on “Sack Race” - shadows and sack texture.

“ Ferryman ”: painterly background. Leaving it early.

Ferryman”: painterly background. Leaving it early.


“As an artist you should be the one to sing off key.”

Nicholas Hlobo


A non-studio art day. Starting new sketchbook. Smaller sale seems to suit drawing technique. I think I came to this realisation some time ago but it must have slipped the memory.


Arena’s Cindy Sherman: #untitled was great! Chameleon. Film stills and centre pieces are still some of my favourite works.



“I trust you to make the narrative”

Olafur Eliasson


“Art can offer a chance for self examination”

Olafur Eliasson


RDH: JUNE 2019


Almost a disaster. Too hung up on certain elements and it is holding the piece back. So the notion of blurring the background and having the foreground sharply in focus works. Execution at the moment is lacking sadly. Need to figure out how to fix the mesh fence but will need to redo all the good work from today. Lesson Learnt.



Essentially yesterday was a pure slug fest in the studio.

Action is better than inaction. Working out grid for fence work.

Action is better than inaction. Working out grid for fence work.


Great to meet up with folks today.



Solo show by   John McMacken

Solo show by John McMacken

Belfast School of Art Degree Shows were great. Some outstanding work. Nina Johnston’s tree installation on level 6 is amazing. Regardless of levels/grades that many of the graduates are embarking on that’s the really exciting part.

Looking back, I adored my time in university but detested my degree show. All but one piece has been destroyed and it was the start of a huge, and still ongoing learning curve that’s led my practice to where it is.

Meeting in the evening went really well. Some good feedback and ideas for an upcoming project.


Little break from the studio today to recharge from the overload of art from yesterday.


“Frank Bowling - What do Artists Do All Day?”


The beginnings of planning an exhibition layout.

The beginnings of planning an exhibition layout.

“Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a strength”

Katy Grannan

“Dana Shutz: How Do You Depict A Feeling?”


Detail of the removal process.

Detail of the removal process.

Bit of start and stop in the studio but fixative giveth and fixative taketh away!

Just spied Grace McMurray’s piece in the Royal Academy documentary.



“Paula Rego: Secrets and Stories” - Great way to start the day!

“Depression is like a crown of thorns”

Paula Rego

Dander down to the river with the dogs.

More pushing back on “Sack Race” although I could have easily got sucked into working on tiny details and not looked at the whole picture.


Treat every painting as a study.


Glazing, Hatching, Cross Hatching, Direct, Sfumato, Painterly, Impasto, Staining, Dripping, Gestural, Broken Strokes, Dotting, A La Prima, Patches, Feathers, Scumbling, Washes, Bravara, Directional.

Sketchbook work.

Sketchbook work.


Knowledge / Creativity / Inspiration

Beginnings / Liberation



Summer Solstice. Pleased with how mesh fence is coming.


Need to let go of aiming to get the little things perfect in the work. Ultimately its holding up the process. Obviously not saying to go full ‘Sloppy Joe’ on it but recognising when things get knit picky - take a step back and reassess time spent on something inconsequential.


Perfection is an illusion.


Little break day. Sophia Campbell on “Sky’s PAOTY 2019”.


There’s no sugar coating it. Intrusive thoughts bombarding for practically 8 straight hours.

Embarrassing, frustrating but mainly just terrifying. I don’t want them anymore.


It will take time to get to grips with what is going on.


Currently going through potential imagery. I think its good to scan through images from time to time to build up ideas.


Getting to grips with terms and conditions and sorting out a plan of action together.



Derry today.


CCA - ‘Celebration Factory’ by Filip Markiewicz. Huge drawings and impressive array of work.


Fragmented’ by Aimee Melaugh in the Gasworks. Such a beautiful space. Can’t think of anyone who paints atmosphere and smoke like she can.

Joseph McWilliams “ Community Door ” 1976 part of the “ Troubles Art ” exhibition in   Nerve Visual  .

Joseph McWilliams “Community Door” 1976 part of the “Troubles Art” exhibition in Nerve Visual.


Work submitted to the   RHA   open call.

Work submitted to the RHA open call.

Detail of a piece by   Cecilia Danell   - part of her solo show “ In a Landscape ” in the RHA.

Detail of a piece by Cecilia Danell - part of her solo show “In a Landscape” in the RHA.


Royal Academy - Renaissance Nude exhibition was great. Highlights were Pontormo’s “Study of a Nude Boy”, Dürer’s etchings, creepy little paintings by Hans Memling and, of course, Titian’s Venus.

National Gallery - “Rokeby Venus” by Velazquez is just an unbelievable painting! Real surprise was being moved by Caravaggio’s “Boy bitten by a lizard”. Came out of nowhere. Loved how the two Rembrandt portraits faced each other in their room. A conversation? “The Ambassadors” by Hans Holbein the Younger. Great to see it in the flesh finally. So many great works - probably could have stayed in there all week.


“Brighton Pierrots” by Walter Richard Sickert.

“Brighton Pierrots” by Walter Richard Sickert.

Went to Tate Britain and was annoyed that many of the works I had been looking forward to seeing were out of view for refurbishment. However it was great to see some other great pieces, including Sickert’s “Brighton Pierrots”.

View from   Tate Modern  .

View from Tate Modern.

Bonnard show was incredible. Wish it wasn’t as crowded to spend more time with the work. The self portraits were anxious and sinister. Preferred Franz West ’s collages to the sculptures.



Just shy of forty miles walked.

Sean Scully documentary.


Horrible day in the studio. What’s done can be rectified thankfully but I’m not sure what brought it about.

  • Not enough looking?

  • Charging in?

  • Carelessness?

  • Fatigue?

  • All of the above?

Note for “Rose”: Less is more.




Still no word - need to not get hopes up.


“Ruins” detail.

“Ruins” detail.

Office wall.

Office wall.

Tried and failed at sketching.


Sketchbook work.

Sketchbook work.


Eventually in the studio… “ Ruins ” is still an exciting composition so not sure why it’s stagnated.

Eventually in the studio… “Ruins” is still an exciting composition so not sure why it’s stagnated.

“The Lost Woods Study” close up.

“The Lost Woods Study” close up.


So - “Ruins” has ground things to a halt. Can’t say it is entirely the painting’s fault but it has eaten a lot of time where I’d be working on multiple pieces simultaneously.

I’m not abandoning it completely. Just setting it out of sight and out of mind until I’m in a better position to complete it to the best of my ability.

“The continuous practice of painting is a process against forgetting.”

Hans Ulrich Obrist


Night shot.

Night shot.


Some good drawing tonight.

Some good drawing tonight.


Studio work. “ Rose ” face is all but there.

Studio work. “Rose” face is all but there.


Dublin bound.

IMMA Freud Project: Gaze was stunning. “Relfection: Self Portrait” - have wanted to see this piece in the flesh for a long long time. Interesting mix of artists alongside Freud including a Hopper sketch, a Rembrandt etching, Abramovic, Dúrer, Dorothy Cross and others. The Doris Salcedo show “Acts of Mourning” was intense. Moved by “Plegoria Muda” and “Tabula Rasa” pieces the most. For the past week that has been in NI, we all need little blades of hope. Group show “A Vague Anxiety” was great, particularly the work of Saidhbhín Gibson (sculptures) and Susanne Wawra’s incredible paintings.


Scam emails- beware!



“The Ivy Crown" progress.

“The Ivy Crown" progress.

Struggling with “Bereft Clown”. I think it’s too contrived. Another image overlay maybe?

Adding another image automatically forces you to simplify the composition in a way so that just the essentials are left.

Loosening up on “Ruins”. Music really makes a difference in the studio for me.

The imagery may be personal but the doors are left open. Viewers bringing their own experiences / ideas to the work is paramount.

Don’t like the word ‘style’. It’s too certain of itself.


“Sack Race”

“Sack Race”

Bit better productivity wise.


“ Guardian Study ”

Guardian Study

Sketchbook work tonight.


…has “Bereft Clown” gone the way of the dodo yet again? Is it stifling and holding me back? Even just setting it aside for a week or two could help.


Temporarily removed the shrub in “Ruins”.


Pablo the Monstera

Pablo the Monstera


Lynda Benglis doesn’t make work for other people or for specific shows but purely out of curiosity.

“ The Boatman ”

The Boatman

Attempted some sketchbook work - hit and miss - mostly miss.



Cake tin for the sky disc. I think it’s a good idea to get closer to the colour scheme in my head than what is on the canvas at the moment.




“ Quick Call ”

Quick Call

Sketchbook work.


In the studio where I’m happiest. Even if it’s not working well it’s about going through the process.

Detail of a weeping willow.

Detail of a weeping willow.

A good bit of experimentation today but heading in the right direction nonetheless.


Corita Kent rules:

  1. Find a place you trust and then try trusting it for a while.

  2. General duties of a student: Pull everything out of your teacher. Pull everything out of your fellow students.

  3. General duties of a teacher: Pull everything out of your students.

  4. Consider everything an experiment.

  5. Be self disciplined. This means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self disciplined is to follow in a better way.

  6. Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail. There’s only make.

  7. The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

  8. Don’t try to create and analyse at the same time. They are different processes.

  9. Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

  10. “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving room for X quantities.” - John Cage.

Helpful hints: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything. It might come in handy later.

There should be new rules next week.


…in my thoughts today.

“If you mix your voice with others’ voices you feel as though you are caught in a hook.

Franz Kafka - “Children on the Road”


So in front of a warm fire and three sleeping dogs, I asked Jan to marry me.


Thankfully she said yes.


A little semblance of normality today: back in the studio.


Less contrast between the sun and sky?

Slowly but surely making progress on the “The Lost Woods Study”.

Detail of “ The Lost Woods Study ”.

Detail of “The Lost Woods Study”.


…more work done to “Rose” today.

Detail of “ Rose ” - work in progress.

Detail of “Rose” - work in progress.



Slight change of tact…




Some tonal work on “Bereft Clown”

Some tonal work on “Bereft Clown”


Lagging behind.


Applications submitted.



How do you combat this?

“Discipline is key" - JG

Break the cycle by physically setting time aside for practice. Depending on the day of the week and other commitments, the type of productive work will differ.


Cleaning the palette

Cleaning the palette


One good sketch is better than not drawing at all.

One good sketch is better than not drawing at all.


“What’s for you won’t go past you.”

Reworked pattern and colours on clown today.



Great to get painting today albeit a little later than I would have liked.

Counting works - didn’t realise there were so many!


Belfast. Great to see the last day of ‘The Question of Feeling at Home’ in PS² - curated by Moran Been-Noon. Bonus to get a run down from Moran about the show and to see Cecilia Bullo’s work in the flesh! Been excited to see it since her talk in the DLR LexIcon last year. Next was a visit to Belfast Exposed for the ACNI collection show with a solo show by Linda Conroy in the upstairs space. Conroy’s work is disturbing and utterly absorbing at the same time. Removing notions of the individual from religious ritual resonated with me personally. Then it was on to ‘Porous Plane’ by Lennon in the Golden Thread Gallery. The sheer scale and vibrancy of the work was immense. In the information leaflet it says that “no knowledge is required to enjoy the beauty of these paintings” and that Lennon “invites each of us to find ourselves and arrive at our own inclusions”. Leaving room for the viewer is something I’m particularly keen on.

Lastly onto the wonderful ‘Alternate Perspective’ in Platform featuring work by Aimee MeLaugh and Karl Hagan. Both reflect on ‘memory, people, places and trauma’. The grandeur of history painting coupled with highly personal and intimate narratives. Wonderful painting exhibition.



Project profile submitted.


It’s the journey not the destination.


Nearly into third month and nothing really to show for it. Plenty of works in progress but not enough progress being made.



Mountain walk with Jan and Rogue.

Mountain walk with Jan and Rogue.

“I think of drawing as a way of getting information and really learning to understand imagery.” - Cecily Brown

Anna Bjerger has a corner filled with ten years of old books / magazines. There’s usually nothing new but it’s about looking at imagery time and again to see if anything jumps out.


You need to have a genuine feeling for an image.


Two large canvases. Diptych idea?




Found in a car park.

Found in a car park.

Nothing done is also nothing ruined.




If it is to be it will come again.

London is happening in April. Can’t wait!


Idea for a painting: “The To and Fro of Indecision”.

Sketchbook work tonight. Looking at old paintings from second year in University.

Sketchbook work tonight. Looking at old paintings from second year in University.


Boiler suit

Boiler suit

If you look a little longer you will see things that have always been there but not in the same context as before. I’ve started looking a little closer at drawings that have been transferred onto acetate and pairing them off with others that I normally wouldn’t have previously.



Christening + St Lurach’s ruins. This is the biggest canvas I’ve tackled in a long time.

Christening + St Lurach’s ruins. This is the biggest canvas I’ve tackled in a long time.

“Organised Forgetting”

Paint went well today - generally just blocking so it’s not too tasking. Colours - light v dark. Which elements of the image come to the fore and what fights to be heard.


Meaningless vote.

Chris Ofili’s “No Woman No Cry” - canvas rested on 2 heaps of elephant dung covered in a transparent resin.

Sculpture ideas - photos stacked like a house of cards. On panels?



Trip to Newtownards and Belfast today.

The Ards Art Centre’s Georgian gallery space is stunning! So much light! Really interesting work by   Katrina Cobain   on show.

The Ards Art Centre’s Georgian gallery space is stunning! So much light! Really interesting work by Katrina Cobain on show.

Stunning work by   Alana Barton   in the Black Box.

Stunning work by Alana Barton in the Black Box.

Pauline Rowan  ’s photography was the stand out work for me in the latest instalment of   Golden Thread’s “Dissolving Histories” series.

Pauline Rowan’s photography was the stand out work for me in the latest instalment of Golden Thread’s “Dissolving Histories” series.




Really struggling to get motivated.

The act of drawing has stagnated. If you cut off the source how do you expect the river to flow?

Even working on other imagery (drawings) when painting something else is bound to have positive repercussions?


Took a while to get going. Not really focusing on one task but I think that’s good sometimes.

A little experiment

A little experiment


Been thinking a lot about potential sculptural ideas recently. Give it a whirl?


Sketchbook work

Sketchbook work


“Shooting the Darkness” documentary on RTÉ was fascinating insight from photojournalists who were front line witnesses to some of the most horrific atrocities during the Troubles.

RDH: 01/12/18 - 31/12/18



Blocked out “Bereft Clown”.



Found an ogham poster on North Street with an interesting translation.


Vault studios is amazing - especially EMIC’s studio space!


…text to coincide with next solo show…



Studio work today. Thought I was close to finishing ‘confessional’ but it might be further away than I imagined.


“You make a mistake when you explain the paintings through the war.”

Mark Stevens - on Bacon’s “Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion”

Several shooting stars.


Probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. Childhood hero reduced. It's a real jolt to the system.

Trauma doesn’t discriminate. It’s so subjective that it can defy explanation or description. Nightmarish.


Materials courtesy of the  University of Atypical ’s iDA award arrived to the studio today.

Materials courtesy of the University of Atypical’s iDA award arrived to the studio today.

Need to learn to keep some things to yourself.

See it through. Stay strong and keep head up.


Panic attack today.


You never fully appreciate someone until its too late. A true legend that has shaped so many. Time with family is so important.

Resolutions < Revolutions


Moon-rise over Glenshane.

Moon-rise over Glenshane.

Thought I had a good night’s sleep but my body is telling me different. Need to draw more again.


Getting lost in thought about art is a joy. It’s like taking a mini vacation.



Some sketchbook work. Not much but it’s a start.

Look more before putting pen to paper. This is not to say to lose the immediacy during the act of drawing but to take a breath to absorb and examine what an image has to offer.


Finished “Confessional”. Maybe when the mind is distracted slightly it makes studio work more of an automated response? Decisions were made and action was taken.


Not saying having a completely distracted head-space works. Far from it. I’ve been there plenty of times and it’s disastrous. No. It’s more a case of - you’re in the studio and you have a clear(ish) idea of where the work will go so you follow that. The decision making dilemma is lessened due to the preoccupation of other matters going on upstairs.


A bit of work done to “Bereft Clown before clearing the palette and studio up for another year.


2018 in Photos













Exhibition Highlights 2018

These five exhibitions are in chronological order and are only my favourites of the shows I was able to attend in person. There were many that I was dying to see but in the end, couldn’t make.


Curated by Colin Darke

QSS Gallery, Belfast

02/02/18 - 22/02/18

This was the fourth group show curated by Colin Darke that was based upon the four titles of Barnett Newman paintings (“Whose Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue”). According to the text accompanying the exhibition, linking works in accordance with colour “allows for a level of visual cohesion, while retaining the conceptual and aesthetic diversity that defines Queen Street Studios”. Ordinarily white, in a gallery context, inhabits the space between works. In this show however you become strangely aware of the normally silent walls. In Craig Donald’s installation “Ozymandias” sections of the gallery wall are set centre stage; framed by colours that correlate in other drawings and paintings within the installation. You become aware of the void.

Nightfall - amplissium terrarum tractum

David Godbold

Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast

03/02/18 - 10/03/18

This group exhibition by David Godbold in the Golden Thread Gallery really was a stunner. In gallery one, the works that give the name of the show, “Nightfall - Amplissium terrarum tractum” takes up an entire wall. Consisting of 116 framed drawings and a wall drawing in neon, I found myself getting drawn into the gorgeous and witty drawings usually accompanied with text loaded with humour and a certain political sting. Then all of a sudden I would walk backwards, trying to take in the sheer audacious scale of the work as a whole. I was especially taken by the drawing with the text "Infamy, infamy, everybody’s got it in for me” - a one liner from “Carry on Cleo” which my dad regularly cries aloud. Gallery two sees landscapes, beautifully painted and paired off with one in daylight and the other at night. Showing these romantic locations at different times of the day means you can never fully see the region in its entirety.

Future Perfect - Contemporary Art from Germany

Curated by Angelika Stepken and Philipp Ziegler

The Model, Sligo

06/05/18 - 01/07/18

During a summer break down to Sligo it would have been rude not to visit some of the galleries. This travelling group show did not disappoint. Sixteen artists envision and speculate about the future and reflect on the promises it could bring. The installation of Nora Schultz called “Discovery of the Primitive” reminded me of a transportable monolith like the one in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Schultz gathers found objects from around her Berlin studio to assemble these delicate structures that also double as printmaking stations. It dominated the room and sticks in the memory. Antje Majewski’s paintings were impressive in scale and in detail. The lengthy title “Decorative element that once adorned a passage leading to a shrine” was a large circular painting consisting of smaller overlapped orbs of differing gold and green. The same ‘decorative element’ makes a cameo in the even larger painting - more akin to history painting of old. “The Donation” sees a large group of people witnessing an exchange in what looks like a gallery with warped dimensions and off kilter paintings on the wall.

At the gates of the Music Palace

Alex Cecchetti

Curated by Mary Cremin

VOID Gallery, Derry-Londonderry

04/08/18 - 22/09/18

I was lucky enough to see this show on the opening night where the artist Alex Cecchetti was giving a guided tour of the works. A serial collaborator almost all of the works came to fruition as a result of Cecchetti working with musicians, dancers and singers. The first gallery was bathed in a pink light with two large copper cones suspended at the far end. If you move across the sensors musical notes are played and according to different gestures you can actually play music. Cecchetti and a dancer then played a piece of music they composed by dancing in front of the “Music Hall” installation. Gallery 2 held a sound installation entitled “Cetaceans” where a human choir sang like whales. This room was in darkness and you were encouraged to lay down and let the sounds wash over you. The third room had my favourite piece of collaborative work by Cecchetti. Oil paintings on crystal and rise paper hangs from a structure surrounding a piano meaning when people from the tour poured in and no matter where they stood they could see the works on the paper - even from the back where I stood. A synesthetic musician then sat at the piano and read the works like a sheet of music. Even by just watching the paintings you could follow the musician as they played and I found it totally engrossing. Probably the best show featuring audience participation I’ve seen.

Not Half Right

Jane McCormick

Atypical Gallery, Belfast

12/11/18 - 21/12/18

I stumbled into the Atypical gallery on my way to see the MAC international exhibition (which had incredible works by Ali Cherri, Aisling O’Beirn and the winner Nikolaus Gansterer) and hadn’t any preconceived notions what “Not Half Right” by Jane McCormick contained. What I came across was an incredibly strong practice that explores deeply personal and intimate issues in a scarily wide range of media. Medicine bottles with text and images of children replaced the label. A heart shaped box with tablets instead of chocolates resonated with me. It was humorous and darkly menacing at the same time. Is it a comment on today’s ‘there’s a pill for that’ culture, a love note to how medication has helped the artist or something else? You can’t help but bring your own experience to the work here. The self portrait drawings on what McCormick calls “useless articles and medically-related tat” are visceral, bold and expresses the frustrating and tiring nature of the “never ending search for ‘the cure’”.

RDH: 01/11/18 - 30/11/18


… all but done…


Do I need a foreign colour? “Afore the Stoop” went in a slightly different direction than first thought. I think I had that quote by Helen Johnson still ringing in my ears about imagery possessing different surface qualities and being on different registers on the same picture plane.


The buzzard is still; hovering overhead while the still-life is in flux. Melting in on itself. To not just merge separate imagery on the one canvas but to treat them differently via technique. I’ve done this regularly in the past but never to this extent before and definitely not on this scale. There’s loads going on: blocked areas, melting, washes and burning/corroding of the surface for texture.


Confessional” is a different beast altogether. It’s going to be a slower process - building up washes of colour, drawing elements back in followed by more washes until it comes to an end or a crossroads. So far so good. It’s not really a colliding of images. It’s the notion of what a negative of a pattern could do to another image.

Refreshing to see organisations opening doors. The model is being altered.



Kept hearing the shrieking of a buzzard every time I went to work on “Afore the Stoop”. When I looked it was perched on top of the tallest tree at the end of the lane and then glided off.



Some sketchbook work. Not a lot of time but that’s my fault.





For studio work: cautious steps or daring leaps? Annoyingly close to finishing “ATS”.

Submission writing hurts my head.


Films to watch:

‘Deer Hunter’

‘Inland Empire’

‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’

’Kill List’


‘Fruitvale Station’

‘Green Room’


Finished “ATS”. Still bits that annoy but for the sake of not destroying it entirely, I don’t mind the imperfections.


Help has been indispensable.


Still waiting on magazine.


Egon Shiele Documentary - transcending the idea of the body as beauty.




Belfast bound for curator talks but looking forward to visiting some galleries first.

Jane McCormick’s “Not Half Right” at the University of Atypical  was absolutely amazing. Insanely strong drawing and sculptural elements.

Jane McCormick’s “Not Half Right” at the University of Atypical was absolutely amazing. Insanely strong drawing and sculptural elements.

Ali Cherri  in the MAC International 2018. His work was the stand out work for me.

Ali Cherri in the MAC International 2018. His work was the stand out work for me.

Curator talks as part of Belfast Open Studios from  Visual Artists Ireland  offices. Speaking at the event: Nora Hickey from  CCI in Paris , Ika Sienkiewicz-Nowacka from  CCA Warsaw , Dean Brierley from  Caustic Coastel  in Manchester and Anna Ciabach - formally of  Monopol Gallery  in Warsaw.

Curator talks as part of Belfast Open Studios from Visual Artists Ireland offices. Speaking at the event: Nora Hickey from CCI in Paris, Ika Sienkiewicz-Nowacka from CCA Warsaw, Dean Brierley from Caustic Coastel in Manchester and Anna Ciabach - formally of Monopol Gallery in Warsaw.


Work is being used as an example to show other artists about finding your own voice. Chuffed.

…someone has been keeping an eye on my progress and that is something!

Another trip to Belfast for more galleries and then a Speed Curating event.

Gerard Carson ’s “Submersible Extractions” in  Platform .

Gerard Carson’s “Submersible Extractions” in Platform.

Still of  Barbara Hammer ’s work at the Golden Thread Gallery exhibition.

Still of Barbara Hammer’s work at the Golden Thread Gallery exhibition.

Layout of the ‘Speed Curating’ event by VAI held in  Belfast Exposed .

Layout of the ‘Speed Curating’ event by VAI held in Belfast Exposed.


It has been a hectic but brilliant few days. Yesterday I called into Platform to see Gerard Carson’s “Submersible Extractions” and a solo show by Dryden Wilson. I followed this up by a quick look at the Barbara Hammer exhibition and Patrick Colhoun’s project space work in the Golden Thread Gallery. Then it was time for the speed curating event at Belfast Exposed.

… do research. What artists i admire….

…Strange. Nothing negative. Just nothing.

A lot of information. A real painter?


“In Defence of Representation” essay by Tristan Garcia.
In western philosophy the representational object is either a copy, a sign or a duplex.

“… according to the semiotic model, there is no representation without signification, that is to say without interpretation.” - Tristan Garcia


“Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” - Screen (1973)

“The Victim” - Saul Bellow


Tried sketchbook work - failed miserably.


Projection onto fog screen.




Line of connection between viewer and work - GO’H

Ask the question: what do you see?


Yesterday I eventually got painting around lunchtime - back and forth with ‘Confessional’ but progress made.  Great talk with GO’H about ‘the gaze’.

Leaf blowing.


Need to select paintings for Framewerk Christmas show.


“The Trouble with Painting” - ICA (YouTube)

“What you’re interested in in the world will feed back into what you are interested in as an artist.” - Alison Pilkington

…speaking about dreams, a quote from Alison Pilkington’s drawing seminar from the RHA really stuck out.  I’m paraphrasing here but the guts of it is this:  talking to people about why you make the work you do (or about your inspirations for that matter) is like talking to people about your dreams.  People aren’t overly interested when someone else describes a dream.  It’s subjective and personal and it’s all but impossible to get the experience across properly.

Sketchbook work.

Sketchbook work.


A difficult few weeks to come.

VAI Speed Curating: Nov 2018

On Saturday 17th November, Visual Artists Ireland held a Speed Curating event in Belfast Exposed Gallery as part of their Belfast Open Studios 2018 programme. It was great to get a chance to speak to curators both from here and also based further afield: Manchester, Paris, Warsaw and Rome.

For artists, I can’t recommend taking part in events like this highly enough. Thanks to Rob, Chris and Siobhán from VAI and to all the curators for their time and feedback!


RDH: 01/10/18 - 31/10/18


… of interest. Attainable small steps to reach big goals.


Delivery mix up.


Booked VAI speed curating slots for November.

…LA… fingers crossed!


initials in ogham

initials in ogham

Experiment in the studio with a degree of success. When a fine layer of fixative is lit on the paintings surface, areas of the canvas that are predominantly charcoal or thin layers of colour are singed and blister - creating an interesting effect. Safety first though.

Jan is right —> the lighter background to “Pioneer” was more unsettling. Rectify.



Staring at “Pioneer”. I think I’m hesitant because its… I don’t know. I think the colours are too similar between light and shade. By the same token - you don’t want it to become too contrasting and cartoonish. A foreign colour introduced into the third panel may point a direction.


Flying by the seat of pants but you can’t control the spontaneous. Some detailed work today. It is getting there. Attention directed towards other matters.

… paintings and clusters of drawings - like a shotgun spread of memories. Jumbled - linked yet conflicting. Fighting for dominance.



Just realised a connection between “AMATGS” and the ivy crown. Oedipus plays would have been played during the festival of Dionysus - who is associated with a crown of ivy.


“ I gave myself permission to follow my voice and that’s what my whole career has been. I still give myself permission and no compromise. I compromised before but not when I became an artist.” Mark Bradford


World Mental Health Day.




“Into The Void Magazine” submission successful!


Sketchbook work and now watching the original ‘Suspiria’ for the first time.



Notes finished for presentation. Pleased with burning effect on triptych.

… was suggested something on Friday. Well it was more of a dialogue regarding “Pioneer”; the first and last sections work. They’re strong but the one that should be the strongest and the anchor, the middle piece is way behind. Changing from a triptych to a diptych? Leave it for a while - continue working on all three before abandoning the middle piece.

Using ash as a painting/drawing medium. Religious links? Why do ideas come in the final minutes of the day? Processing process.


On way to Dublin. Looking forward to talking about work in DLR Lexicon. Not nervous. Yet.


Just saw the most beautiful fox casually strolling across a field outside Armagh.

I’ve been skirting around issues. The ‘recall’ notion might be worth exploring again. Drawing. Painting. Video. Audio.


The DLR Lexicon is stunning. Really enjoyed the other talks - especially work of Cecilia Bullo.


Yesterday’s trip and talks were great. Just wish I had more time to go around some of Dublin’s galleries when I was down. Decided it was best to drop the middle canvas in “Pioneer Studies”. Finished the other two pieces and happy with the results.




A little tweaking to “Afore the Stoop”.
Dad suffered a bleeding eye following his operation.


Have been neglecting practice and methods during the week. Ards - it seems a long way off but it will fly in.

Keeping your finger on the pulse is no bad thing.


Personal history is a source - not the explanation. ‘imagine…’ with Tracey Emin on iPlayer was insightful. Have a new found respect for Emin’s practice and quite like a few of some of her new paintings.


No paints were used today but three canvases were started. The smallest piece - I don’t think will have legs. As a drawing it is strong but I feel it won’t work on canvas. I’ve drawn up “Bereft Clown” again - a different size to the previous square stretcher. Will see how it goes. The third canvas is the one I’m most excited about. It’s a merging of two images but in a slightly different way. First is an image of a German officer stationed in a concentration camp. The other is a negative of a confession screen. The idea is to project light through the lattice onto the portrait. Fright Night in the jungle was great fun!



Slept so much. Slow progress but progress nonetheless.



Spacing error.

“I’m really interested in creating moments of ‘push and pull’ in paintings and having different registers of imagery with different surface qualities - so one thing might be compositionally in the foreground but materially might be being subsumed by whats behind it.” Helen Johnson

Into The Void: Issue 10

I’m thrilled to have been selected as a contributor to the latest issue of Into the Void Magazine which is “an award-winning print and online literary magazine and small press publisher dedicated to providing a platform for world-class fiction, flash, creative nonfiction, poetry, and visual art”.

The stunning cover for Issue 10 is titled “Behind a Bush” by Hanna Ilczyszyn.

Details of my selected work can be viewed here.

Print copies of the issue can be purchased here.

Many thanks to the staff at Into the Void and especially to the editor-in-chief Philip Elliott for allowing my work on their beautiful platform.


RDH: 01/09/18 - 30/09/18


Detail work to “AMATGS” today.

Detail work to “AMATGS” today.


Lifting unselected works from Belfast.

Lifting unselected works from Belfast.


No point in worrying about things out of your control. Took a while but made good progress in the studio. Gently does it.


Sculpture on my mind.


…mad to think I have two solo shows coming…

Tinker + Research + Ideas = …

What box?


Detail of sketchbook work.

Detail of sketchbook work.

NB: Sketch from objects?


ideas: …soft pink highlights… hints of sandals… bruised colour…


Steps in the right direction. Had a notion to put trees in the background - the nothingness was annoying me. After that attempt and then a further attempt to incorporate reflective lines, i think blank is good. There is plenty going on in and amongst the three figures so to try and confuse it with more ammo may be a mistake.

Gathered objects for perusal. Baby steps.

Gathered objects for perusal. Baby steps.


Seneca on anger documentary. Nero’s tutor. People get angry because they are too hopeful - be more pessimistic and less surprised for misfortune.


Be psychologically prepared from when things go wrong. Dark Symbol - Rudder

“What need is there to weep over parts of life, the whole of it calls for tears.” - Seneca


Playing about with mirror effects.

Playing about with mirror effects.

Change to background. Neutral this time and I think it will work. There was a muck up when I went to put the blood moon back in and I tried to rectify the warmer tones on the upper right or the neutral colour but was then reminded of a quote by Rose Wylie: “I think you’re a lot happier if you don’t mind a bit of imperfection.” It feeds into the Seneca documentary from last night.


Another day filled with distractions.


Eventually got round to doing some sketchbook development.

Eventually got round to doing some sketchbook development.

An afternoon of application submissions and sketchbook studies.


Detail of recently finished painting.

Detail of recently finished painting.

Finished “A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife.”


A lazy day.



Some interest. Started triptych.


Amazing weekend at the Loughlin wedding!

Amazing weekend at the Loughlin wedding!


Jan mentioned something that I think is important. Doing a little something everyday - even if you think there is no point - is better than doing nothing at all.


A weird impromptu visit. Well-intentioned but very sceptical.



The only absolute constant is change.



Painting Peer Critique Session went really well in the Golden Thread Gallery. Hoping it grows and develops.


Studio work. “Pioneer Studies” - good start. Haven’t done a triptych in a few years. Third canvas is all but there.

Close up of one of the “Pioneer Studies” - work in progress.

Close up of one of the “Pioneer Studies” - work in progress.

RDH: 01/07/18 - 31/07/18


Crunching numbers.


... feels unfinished ... sections fall apart ... a denying of illusionism ...

"The Mountain of the Heights" in progress.

"The Mountain of the Heights" in progress.




Shocked. Head spirals backwards.  Sketchbook work today.


'Bardo' - (tibetan) a state between life and death

...instead of saying "What's wrong with you?" it should be "What happened to you?"

relaxing with visual artists news sheet from   VAI

relaxing with visual artists news sheet from VAI

1:  Emotional brain basically becomes a 'survival brain' and can hijack the conscious brain.

2:  Alarm system in brain becomes distorted and a person may become hyper vigilant.

3:  Ability to appraise the present and to learn from experience (an imbalance and a resistance to heal).

Developmental trauma takes time to heal and there are no quick fixes.



Lifting works from the  Townhouse Gallery  in Belfast.

Lifting works from the Townhouse Gallery in Belfast.

rough sketch for an installation idea

rough sketch for an installation idea


A research day.

A research day.


Studio wall

Studio wall

Refined some charcoal marks on the large landscape today.


"Traumatic Memory"

trauma - from the greek meaning 'to wound' or 'to pierce'.


NOTES from Psychology texts:

"...the story of trauma is one of enlightenment and forgetfulness.Knowledge gained and lost over and over. A history categorised by criticism and denial."

A tragic paradox of trauma is that one of it's primary casualties is that of truth itself.

Trauma is considered as - "an event outside the range of usual experience." (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders -III - R - 1980)

Trauma shatters the assumptive world - invincibility has gone and the world is seen as darker, chaotic, evil and dangerous.



Sketchbook work today.  Little steps are better than no steps at all.


Canvas nearly ready to go in the studio

Canvas nearly ready to go in the studio

Stretched a few canvases today.


detail of landscape in progress

detail of landscape in progress

Colours laid out and tightened back of landscape canvas.




"The Mountain of the Heights" in the garden.

"The Mountain of the Heights" in the garden.

Finished "The Mountain of the Heights" today.  Could have done more but I'm learning to let go before work is destroyed.


"Second hand images can create first hand emotion" - Marlene Dumas


A delivery of paints came today

A delivery of paints came today


"Lost Illusions" by Balzac


A pretty good start to my week off; I have been offered a solo show!


Justine McDonnell  's "A Composition of She" in the   Golden Thread Gallery  , Belfast

Justine McDonnell's "A Composition of She" in the Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast

First night out in Belfast in ages and we are evacuated from Laverys due to a 'fire'.

First night out in Belfast in ages and we are evacuated from Laverys due to a 'fire'.


Stunning paintings by   Elizabeth Magill   at the Ulster Museum, Belfast

Stunning paintings by Elizabeth Magill at the Ulster Museum, Belfast


An idea for using flattened paint boxes.

An idea for using flattened paint boxes.

Too many ideas floating around.

NB:  To loosen up before working from chosen imagery, I want to try and do some work from life beforehand.  Can't do any harm.

A five minute self portrait study

A five minute self portrait study


"The Landis Museum" exhibition at the   CCA, Derry

"The Landis Museum" exhibition at the CCA, Derry

A trip to Derry for meetings and gallery visits.

Detail of one of Colin Davidson's remarkable paintings in "Silent Testimony" at the Nerve Visual Gallery, Derry

Detail of one of Colin Davidson's remarkable paintings in "Silent Testimony" at the Nerve Visual Gallery, Derry

I first saw Colin Davidson's 'Silent Testimony' three years ago in the Ulster Museum. Today it was in the Nerve Visual Gallery in Derry.  Still so powerful.  The 'us and them' mentality is nonexistent and removing divisive language and politics reveals the human suffering on all sides.  It is so important.  So glad to have seen it again.

Beginnings of a small canvas experiment

Beginnings of a small canvas experiment

Merging two old drawing works onto a new canvas.

Merging two old drawing works onto a new canvas.

Have multiple little eggs going on at the moment.

Imagine... Rose Wylie on BBC iPlayer

...where presence is evident...

"I think you're a lot happier if you don't mind a bit of imperfection." - Rose Wyllie


The two sons of Oedipus, Polynices and Eteocles translates to "Manifold Strife" and "Truly Glorious" respectively.  Might just be the title of a new painting that's been started.

Good news: I have two works pre-selected for the Royal Ulster Academy 2018.  Fingers crossed!


"What's for you won't go past you."

Progress on a small painting study

Progress on a small painting study

TAL R on Louisiana Channel

"It's strange, but you can't make a painting without content. Content is not like solving a problem in school or university. Content much more means that you've built up enough reason to do it. And content is also shitty because if you begin to identify too much with the content then you can't move. There are too many people shouting out in the chorus. Content starts you up and you leave it behind. It doesn't mean that you remove yourself from the content but it's too cumbersome to carry along. So when I'm working, it's not mechanical at all but it's cool headed because I'm not questioning the content. I've left it behind. It's interesting to say that content is crap, but you can't live without it." - TAL R


Four works in progress in the studio

Four works in progress in the studio

"A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife"  - painting in progress

"A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife" - painting in progress

Really pleased with how "A Manifold and Truly Glorious Strife" is shaping up.


"You have to create something that lives in a kind of mystery." - TAL R



Worked on "Rehearsal Study" today.  Played with skin tone and facial features using an air compressor to manipulate the paint. A slightly less controlled appearance.



So pleased to have been able to attend the iDA reception event at the Atypical Gallery in Belfast.  This website is only possible through the iDA grant from atypical and the Arts Council fo Northern Ireland so I'm extremely grateful for their continued support and guidance.  Congratulations to all the award recipients this year!

Whoever heard of a Black Artist?" on BBC iPlayer.

Seven Months Later...

Slieve Gallion ('the mountain of the heights' in Gaelic) is a peak at the south end of the Sperrin mountains which straddle Derry and Tyrone in the North West of Northern Ireland.  It can be seen from my home and I have fond memories of family members telling stories and singing "Slieve Gallion Braes" when growing up.

Usually the longest it would take to finish a painting would be three months.  If you include the hiatus the canvas took in March, April and part of May then from beginning to end "The Mountain of the Heights" took seven months.  I usually merge imagery but here I was unsure.  I experimented adding a mother and child image but this took away from the original image so I eventually decided the mountain needed to stand on its own.