Day 12: Meeting at Burren College of Art, Leaving Ballyvaughan, bus to Galway, air to Edinburgh
Monday 27 Jun 2011 - Monday 27 Jun 2011
This morning at ten was my appointment with Anna Downes of the Burren School of Art and Design. The school is nearly next door to the Burren View where I am staying, so I was able to leave just a little before.
Anna was a delight to meet. She showed me around the grounds, telling me the school's history as we walked. I met the Mary, the President and co-founder of the college and Rob, the Campus Coordinator (the gentleman who handles the physical side of the school, from running the art supply shop to keeping the water running). The school was founded in 1993 by Michael Green and Mary Hawkes-Greene, and became affiliated with the University of Galway in 2005. Their mission states they "believe that emerging artists should be provided with what established artists most need: focussed time free from distractions; space in exceptional studios with the interaction of international artists; and the inspiration of a unique location."
Although the Burren does not have a foundry onsite, Anna, Rob and I spoke about building one, which apparently had been done in the past by other students. Being out in the country, they have the space for large projects like this.
Anna and I toured the Masters studios, which are sectioned off in a large room. Each student gets an 14x14 foot space. At the end of the session, for the masters show, the walls are removed and the area becomes one huge gallery.
I also explored Newtown Castle, the ancestral seat of the Lochlainn's, princes of the Burren. The castle is simply a defensible tower, round, but built on a square base. There are five stories, plus the ground floor, and a lookout walk at the top. Each floor is a single room with a balcony above the great hall. The castle is used by the school for art installations as well as graduation ceremonies, receptions and even weddings.
The size of the school is small, and the student body is kept small as a result. One of the tenets the school was based upon was to keep enrollment small in order to provide larger teacher/student ratio. There are visiting professors from the Royal Academy of Art in London and the University of Chicago, both affiliates of the Burren, as well as visiting artists in residence from around the world. Stylistically, though, their instructors focus on conceptual and contemporary art, so I am not certain I am a perfect fit here. It would stretch me as an artist, but I am not certain it is the direction I want to stretch. But there is also the option of moving from the MFA into a PhD degree, which might also be interesting, but would take longer. The major difference is that a PhD is considered research based, so I am not certain what that could entail.
Well, after carousing about the grounds a little and getting yelled at by the cattle (they sounded so accusatory, yet all I did was walk by-perhaps I was supposed to feed them), I returned to the Burren View to settle up. Bridget had informed me after I arrived that she was forced to return her credit card machine because of the banking system here in Ireland. Apparently they do not make it easy for seasonal businesses like B&Bs. If you do not use your credit account, you still have to pay for it year round, and if enough transactions are not coming through then they penalize you. Unfortunately, there is no bank or cash machine in Ballyvaughan, so Bridget brought me into town and we settled up through a friend of hers who runs a hotel, since I only had a handful of Euros in my wallet.
After settling up and bidding farewell to Bridget (who, incidentally, reminds me of Molly Weasly from the Harry Potter storiesm) I spent an hour or so outside the grocers, writing this and visiting with my friend the store cat. The rest of the day is to be spent in travel, so I am finishing this update here at the Galway Airport. The bus trip from Ballyvaughan to Galway was thrilling but uneventful, as the bus driver dodged here and there avoiding both moving and parked cars with nary a scratch.
I spent very little time in Galway today and then hopped a taxi to the airport. I have checked in and am now simply waiting for my flight. I spend the night in Edinburgh at the Original Raj Hotel off the Haymarket, then travel to London by train tomorrow. After a couple of nights at the St Athans Hotel in London, I will be ending this leg of my journey and returning to the US.