Hello! Welcome!

I'm Heather McGarrigle and this is my blog - a colourful celebration of culture, crafting and creativity in Northern Ireland and beyond.

Monday, Monday - more than I hoped it would be...

Monday, Monday - more than I hoped it would be...

I have mentioned her once or twice in previous posts, but I'm delighted to finally be featuring my lovely grandmother, and the artist group she has been part of for many years, the Lisnagarvey Art Society.

Since her teens, my Granny (Marie Hiddleston, if any of you bump in to her and don't fancy addressing her as 'Heather's Granny') has been a talented artist and was even offered a place at the Glasgow School of Art, but opted for a career in the civil service, marriage and an evening course at the school, achieving her own work/life balance.

She has also in her time been a skilled seamstress and knitter - my mum remembers her making much of the clothes she and her siblings wore. She taught me to knit when I was a child and she is most definitely the reason my interest in art and crafting - and ergo this blog - exists. As you know, it was she who gave me my beloved sewing machine!

For as long as I can remember, Granny has been sketching and painting from a little studio in her house in Lisburn - landscapes and indoor scenes, live portraiture and still life, specialising in watercolours, but also very skilled in oils, pastels, charcoal and pencil and pen work.

Her work adorns the walls of friends and family and the entire upstairs of her house is filled with finished pieces and works in progress.

For over 20 years, she has been a member of the Lisnagarvey Art Society, a collective of artists which has been thriving in the Lisburn area for well over thirty years - longer than I have been alive!

There are three periods of the year (January to Easter; post-Easter to mid-May and September to December) during which the group meets every Tuesday in the Island Arts Centre in Lisburn - sometimes there will be a talk or demonstration from a professional artist or a class in a specific topic.

From time to time my services are called upon to model (fully clothed, I hasten to add, Granny and I aren't *that* close...) for their portraiture classes, something I have done on an ad hoc basis since I was a teenager. Most of the artists have watched me grow up and some have books documenting in pencil, chalk and paint my various hairstyles and fashion choices over the years - a beautifully spooky thing to flick back through!

Monday saw the opening night of their second main exhibition for 2012, held at the Island Arts Centre and supported as always by the Lisburn Arts Advisory Committee. It runs until this Saturday 17th November.

We always like to attend the opening night with Granny. It is a chance for me to see my lovely artists without having to stand statue-still on a table in the middle of the room, plus there are a couple of artist competitions and complimentary drinks. Great way to spend a Monday night if you ask me!

The first competition, announced at the beginning of the night, is the Richard Spence memorial prize, in memory of a local artist and the winning painting from the exhibition is chosen by Lisburn's mayor, who also declares the exhibition open. Mayor William Leathem selected Bert McGowan's stunning Winter Sunshine.

At the end of the night, the 'people's choice' prize is announced - everyone at the exhibition is given a piece of paper as they arrive and we all vote for our favourite painting.

For the first time, in my memory at least, my Granny was voted the winner!

This is her winning painting, of Cushendun Beach, painted during our family break earlier this year.

I had planned to blog about the exhibition anyway, so maybe the art gods saw to it that the post would be extra-memorable. The night was especially enjoyable as our cousin Bobby was also there with his lovely girlfriend Mia; they are here from London at the moment paying us a visit. Mia had arrived earlier with two beautiful bouquets she had arranged herself for Granny, so I think she was fit to burst by the time we left with her people's choice prize in hand as well!

Below is a small selection of the paintings that caught my eye (including my people's choice on the night - no nepotism in our family!). It is just a tiny peek at what the exhibition has to offer, and the paintings are all for sale, with prices ranging from £200 down to just £30 (!)

I urge anyone in and around Lisburn this week to call in to the Island Arts Centre to support, appreciate and hopefully purchase some locally-produced art. Support your local artists!

The exhibition runs from Monday 12th November until Saturday 17th November 2012 at the Island Arts Centre in Lisburn.

Opening hours: Mon - Fri 9.30am - 9.30pm; Sat 9.30am - 4.30pm.

Tel: 028 92 509 509

Diwali and Samhain

Diwali and Samhain

The work-in-progress progresses

The work-in-progress progresses