Koru Burgh House 2011

Regan O'Callaghan Burgh House, Hampstead, London, gallery space, Koru, exhibitionI finally had my first solo exhibition!  All the work was inspired by the Koru a maori symbol based on the unfolding fern frond and symbolising new life. The exhibition came together smoothly and I was very pleased with how it looked.  The Private View was attended by over 70 people and work was sold.  I invigilated during the week and that was also was a positive experience.  Lots of different people visited and I received constructive feedback.  A woman from Finland shared that Koru in Finnish means jewel. Lovely

A friend commented that the work revealed a great deal about me and that I must have felt quite vulnerable with such a public display!  I hadn't thought of it that way but the more I spent time invigilating I began to reflect on the journey I have taken over the past few years.  Has art become my religion?  Art has certainly become one way of expressing my faith.   I looked at the many spirals around the room and understood them almost like springs that have been tightly wound and now are springing forth releasing pent up energy.  New life indeed!  Though it has taken me many years to have a solo exhibition I believe the time was right for it to happen now.  Some ferns can be very slow growing!  For a small frond to push through earth and  grow up towards the light requires a great deal of energy and so it is with my faith.  I just pray I have the faith to continue to reach for the light!

Regan O'Callaghan ink drawing, koru, Burgh House, exhibition, London

Dancing with Death

Regan O'Callaghan Death, Dancing with Death, oil painting, koru,Dancing with Death is part of my Koru series.  It's title might appear dark and gruesome but it is not intended. Death is a fact of life.  We will all die someday. Life is about death.

I like the The Day of the Dead festival in Mexico as an example of a way to cope with death and loss. Bereaved families will gather around gravestones and will celebrate and have a picnic in memory of their beloveds. Shrines will be set up in family homes and the deceased‚ favourite food will be placed there.

In the U.K where I am a priest people will commemorate the dead on All Souls Day.  Candles will be lit and the names of the departed will be read out. It is a moving service.

Sometimes though I do wonder if we allow enough space and time for grieving?  One never gets over a death of a loved one but rather in time learns to live with their loss. In a busy world people can be expected to be back to normal after a death within a few weeks! Yet grief comes in waves spaced out sometimes over years.  Some days the tide is out and the bereaved feel they can breathe, all is calm. Then the tide comes in and it arrives with huge crashing waves that threaten to overwhelm. People think they are going to drown. Eventually the tide will go out again and the overwhelming feelings of loss will settle down for the time being.  It is here maybe that grieving people need a quiet bay to shelter in and rest and to find a creative way of expressing their loss without having to wait for a formal expression or date on the calender