Aisling Blackburn with her portrait of Kate Ennals at the Exhibition, Fabulous Fecund Females in the Solar Gallery, Ballinamore
Last night I went to the launch of the multi media exhibition of Fabulous Fecund Females created by the wonderful Aisling Blackburn in the Solas Art Gallery in Ballinamore. It is an assertive exhibition of colour, vibrancy, and power. And women. Aisling photographed 12 women (I am one), and then painted our portraits and finally got us to sit in front of a video camera. The idea behind the project, Aisling said to me when she asked me to participate, was the portrayal of strong women. I was flattered that she considered me a ‘strong’ woman, and happily agreed.
It was a strange experience being photographed. Aisling wanted me relaxed and comfortable in my own environment, but I am not used to cameras and felt uncomfortable standing in front of a camera, doing nothing. I find it unnerving being the centre of attention unless I am demanding it with my naturally witty or intelligent remarks (!!). So I decided to recite a poem. Due to my age (and years of drinking) I can’t remember any poems, so I had to read from a page I held in front of me. This, of course, ruined the picture. Aisling was very patient.
What did I think of the final result? I was taken aback. I didn’t realise I looked so weathered, so wrinkled, so old. When I peer in the mirror I don’t see it. Isn’t that interesting? But I liked them. Aisling did catch me. It’s strange to be captured in a photograph. I also liked the portrait Aisling did. I think it was one of her best. She threw herself into it. I can feel her in there with me. I didn’t like the video, the experience of sitting for it and sitting watching it. So the art I liked best was the part in which I played no part…the portrait!
I really enjoyed the exhibition. Fabulous Fecund Females. It was very interesting to examine the photographs, see the portraits that Aisling had drawn from the photos and watch the video of the women’s faces, live. The exhibition is vibrant. It is worth the trip to Ballinamore, which is also a lovely town. A great trip out and lunch, maybe,
As I was leaving, it occurred to me that all the work of art was for sale. I love my portrait, it’s a great painting, so suppose some one else does and buys it (I’m a bargain at €300) and hangs me in their home. The thought made me shiver.
“Aisling, if someone wants to buy my portrait, I need to know who,” I say.
Then it occurred to me that I should list the criteria that the buyer should have. After all, I am a strong woman and have ideas about where I may be hung! Then I thought of my poem, Please Can I Have a Man that was shortlisted in the Over The Edge poetry competition last month (see below). It would probably do. I think Aisling should hang it next to my portrait. Enjoy the exhibition.
Please Can I have a Man…
after Selima Hill
Please can I have a man…
tall and carved,
so I can clamber up him
to blue skies painted with coloured clouds;
a sculptured work of art,
cast with grandeur and humility,
all his limbs intact for me to touch,
whose stomach ripples with giggles,
who loves so much
to hear me rant and rave
watch me misbehave,
who adores my feminine intuition,
gives me looks of admiration
when I make particularly insightful remarks
on politics, the weather, poems, art.
Please can I have a man
who can move with rhythm,
and bend his body to fit mine
when I dance
in the kitchen
A man with long tapered fingers
dressed in a dark sharp suit
who stirs a wooden spoon
through my swirling steaming pans of soup
made with spices, peppers, garlic, ginger,
who sticks out his tongue,
who will grin and bear it.
A man engorged with the scent
and headiness of it all
And, please can I have a man
who will be different tomorrow because I’m likely to change my mind.