Sustain-Able 余 : ♥

….wild is the wind…creative freedom is the seed….

Kel1st and #Yu #Summer #Art Residency: Cill Rialaig, #WildAtlanticWay, #Kerry #Ireland

Many Artists and Creative people wrote about Cill Rialaig Art Retreat in the past so we wanted to share our unique personal experiences and what the place brought out in our Art. For more information about Cill Rialaig Art Retreat, this is a link to a very nice description from Ireland of the Welcomes Website (quote from article below)

It’s been described as best kept secret in arts world. It involves rescue and redevelopment of pre-Famine village of Cill Rialaig, at Ballinskelligs, County Kerry, as a retreat for artists, poets, writers and composers of national and international repute.


From Kel1st: Before Cill Rialaig Art Retreat

The competitive nature of graffiti

The reason there is a competitive nature in graffiti can be attributed in part to the social environment and economic oppression that exists in the inner city. The need to be “better or more unique” than the next person in some way. Every writer wants to be “seen/acknowledged” in some way by their peers outside of their immediate circle of family and society.

The self expression or the perceived right to express yourself/brand(tag) is the vehicle to create this unique identity. This in turn translates to “famous” (there are some who understand how ludicrous this is, but not enough of them) because it’s not the ordinary Joe Schmoe name you meet.

So every time they paint it’s an opportunity to show off and expand their peacock feathers. It’s a very short lived moment, it literally is just that moment when the painting has stopped. It’s as finite as snapping a photograph. And it always lives on, beyond the moment because of the picture and enhanced through rhetoric. The bragging rights cannot be understated it is “the voice and life” beyond the moment of competition.

For that, I like the idea of an Art Retreat that will give my wild mind a rest! (even if I can’t be there physically, I can see it when I close my eyes)


July 22, 2015

9:31 AM PST


Paint kel1st

From Cecilia: After Cill Rialaig Art Retreat

Chinese calligraphy is so plugged into the mass unconscious of every chinese on earth…..our very names and surnames are entangled into the abstraction of our name characters and we strive to live out its highest grace.

Graffiti may not understand the gravity of that. Your tags are still so new and playing at what we  “made real” for millenniums, living and breathing it in every moment of our lives!

So I am sorry if I took my stress out on you just before the art retreat. The art retreat did me a world of good. I had fun there!

The art was effortless. There was no competitive bollocks because I am never referencing myself to others.


 I met a few nice people. I missed the Tiaoseach (Prime Minister of Ireland) and his family taking a holiday walk.

I met a nice Irish art couple Mr and Mrs Kingerlee. He was really into talking to me about chinese modern fusion. He said what I am doing made his head spin around and around with new ideas. That was nice but I am too far down the track of calligraphy-graffiti fusion to fully engage in art intensive.

I got along very well with the Caretaker of Cill Rialaig and made him a little lucky art charm because he couldn’t take his eyes off our fusion work. I went for long walks with other artists to Bolus Head and went for a very cold swim on a sunny afternoon with an Irish writer ( a former Art Reviewer currently reviewing books and literature) at Ballinskellig. It was nice until i brushed against a jellyfish and ran screaming out of the water! Haha.

It was really funny when locals came running to my rescue, only to find they had to brush a bit of Jellyfish off my arm!

Then we sat down on the beach and talked briefly. An honest chat that is “off the records”. That was great!


I tried to climb Skellig Michael on only 5 hrs sleep and got the worst vertigo of my life. I was also terrified of ferocious attacking seagulls! My fears were confirmed when days later i found a newspaper article detailing incidents of people that were attacked by seagulls in the #Carichiveen area!

The vertigo experience is humbling as I think of all the times Kel1st and his at time annoying friends spent painting their large graffiti art at night on the outside of trains and later even on moving trains, as kids. It is not a scale I can do physically without “back up” (e.g. like  the Fresco restoration experts from the Accademia del belle arte who are also used to climbing up high and doing larger than life size works).There is a limit to the size of work I can do alone as a solo artist. But in the details I believe there is a great deal Graffiti can learn from the disciplined methodology of chinese art school when it comes to “writing” as an art form.

The area around Cill Rialaig is beautiful. It reminds me of country Victoria.No wonder the Irish loved Victoria in Australia! The people are very straight and friendly. I like the Kerry accent with its old Gaelic sounds which sounded like they are crooning at the end of every sentence. It is interesting and musical! wpid-img_20150806_111538.jpg

The chocolates at Skelligs Chocolate free tasting sessions were sensational. I liked the Irish folk music pub jam at Port Magee. It is all very quaint and prototypically irish of the stuff of joyce and yeats….and some early oscar wilde humour about people and social pretension in the arts too. I liked that other fellow retreat artists do not shy away from humorous comments that strip away those arts world pretension and let us all get back to the basic condition of simply creating….though the backdrop is ethereal given the folk-tale like beauty of our surroundings.

I am not blind to the fact that a lot of money was invested in the restoration of the run down old cottages into artists retreat cottages. I think Noelle Campbell Sharp did a great job of spearheading this with a kind and cool clarity.

I did not meet Noelle many times; only in passing and once I got a ride back to Cill Rialaig from her. Strangely we did not speak a lot as I wanted to listen and I found her words meaningful and measured. Her team is warm, professional and hospitable. We had a minor drama about an unfound paypal transfer for utility bills. I think it was subsequently found. I am not sure as everyone knows I am a bit of an “out of sight, out of mind” type unless the matter had something to do with the arts. I appreciate that when I needed an art studio while the Greek crisis happened, Cill Rialaig stepped up and offered me this opportunity and I thank everyone there for it.


I missed Kel1st art input during parts of the art retreat as we had another one of our  “we are never speaking again ever again, never”…Again! Lol. (We alwaystalk again!) The fight over choice of spray can colors broke a 3 months stint in “getting along beauifully with no major disagreements”. I hope our “creative process facilitation” gurus and coaches are not too disappointed in our progress as they gave generously of their times and effort to help us achieve the surprising “peaceful phase”.

Alas…. colors  for Cill Rialaig broke the months of co-creation and brought out competitive issues again! 🙂

When Mr Kingerlee (John)  pulled me aside to “art talk”. I told him this. He spent the last 2 years mentoring Gary his new protege who is also a self-taught like Kel1st. John asked me if I am perhaps feeling like spiritually I am not mature enough to mentor yet as he too felt that way sometimes. There is a humility to all the fine artists I converse with which I consider a genuine blessing. He had some experience with a young graffiti artist called Cern so he was familiar with the crazy competitive graffiti art context. But obviously there are huge differences between a “Style Master” conversing with a “Calligraphy innovator”; the type of “technical bickering” cannot be replicated in other contexts!

I appreciated John’s insight nevertheless and said in response to his observation,” it is not an option when your artistic tradition is 6000 years old. Of coure every sane artist will experience doubts. Art is humbling to our personal egos. It is hard because on the outside people look at Kel1st and I. He is older than me so people assumed he is mentoring me into graffiti techniques. The truth is the other way around with chinese calligraphy. But I had a similar situation  with a former lecturer in printmaking from the Royal Scottish Academy. I suppose it is a test of our personal faith in our own artistic integrity….”

Then we went on to discuss Henry Moore and what African did for his creative energy and aesthetics.


John came back to me the next day after his exhibitiom opening and said,” ….just rock the boat but do it smart…i cant wait to see more of this and you must tell me more about…(a technical aspect of the chinese art )…”

Who knows? We just might….
But in the same afternoon..or the next morning…I don’t remember exactly…Kel1st art energy got fixated on a solitary brown “red” hare staring out at the horizon from the stone arch of an old Irish village ruin….


Suddenly….the art had to take the time to realise itself so thoroughly that the next time I remembered any specific human interaction was when  the caretaker came to pick me up to take me to the bus and other artists in the retreat  were waving goodbye!

I felt a very keen sense of:

“You dont know what it is like to be us (children of the arts)….unless you are just one of us. But it is so lucky to meet a sense of peer and friendship where you do not have to explain the twist and turn of your artistic process.”


For all these reasons, I loved my physical stay at Cill Rialaig because while I did not love the tourists who tried to barge into my cottage without knocking (after being ignored by me for talking loudly outside the kitchen window to attract attention), I understood why the creative mandala of the place compelled them to do such a strangely rude and unusual thing. I hope I was not too unkind in the process of protecting my creative head space.


The creative cauldron which attracts others to want to “push in” is also the very thing that would destroy the crucible of creativity if too many kept trying to barge in with their non-arts input. So with all the best wishes to others, be they Tiaoseach or day trekkers, local sheep farmers or even the sheeps, I personally need the art space to stay genuinely “for artists only”.

I know Noelle and her team worked very hard to keep the balance. I thank them sincerely for the good care they took of over 2000 artists in the past and wish them the best for the future.


30th Aug, 2015

6.30pm-ish Greek Islands Time 🙂


This work titled: “Bolus Red”


Medium: Spraypaint, Chinese Ink, Chinese Tempura colors and Acrylics was donated to Cill Rialaig’s Fundraising Art Auction. For information about that please contact Cill Rialaig Arts Centre on Facebook

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: