- This is My Hadji Bey
- Eurovision in a Cowshed
- The Boll Weevil 3: On the Waterfront
- A Year in Brocante 11: An Easter Egg
- A Year in Brocante 10: Upscaling and Hacking
- Kevin Pearce
- The Bol Weavil and the Lightning Bug 2: On the Ground
- The Boll Weevil and the Lightning Bug 1: A Home in Ireland
- Love In The Air
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This collage of printing blocks and moulds began with some pieces I picked up in the Markets in Belfast in 1978-80ish. They would have been relics of the linen trade in the city, where my sister (the Elder) was living at the time. I had a small baby, and once she nearly got sold. I used to carry my daughter in a soft woven French basket, a long, shallower version of the deep ones still used for everything from fresh produce shopping to a beach outing in France. The St George Market in Belfast in the late ‘70s and 80s were a place of treasure, due – as with all such second hand trade – to economics, fashion and natural wastage, but also, unfortunately, the sad political state of the Six Counties’ capital at the time. Families were being terrorized out of their homes, buildings burned and people being killed…..and no doubt, during The Troubles, some of their possessions ended up in the Markets.
When my daughter was a baby, the Markets sold fish and plants as well as junk. When the toilets were renovated it was a bit deal; it was a long way from the lattes and olives and smoothies available in the very gentrified place that the St George’s Market is today. I was shocked that my sister wouldn’t bother to lock the car when we parked nearby on our weekend forays, but she said that as there were so many police and soldiers on the streets that Belfast was probably the safest place in Ireland. So, lifting out the baby in her straw basket, we’d head off in search of treasure and my sister’s weekly gossip update from the traders she got to know by name.
If one is carrying a baby in a basket, it is difficult to handle lace and linen, check the underside of china for makers’ names or inspect cutlery for hallmarks. I put my daughter down on a pile of goods….and was distracted by a squeal of panic and amazement followed by laughter. A stall holder had lifted up the basket thinking it was part of her store, only to find a baby inside. She didn’t connect the woman lost in flotillas of old lace with the small person asleep in her cocoon……and when I re-claimed the child, the woman said she was just about to offer the basket for sale!
New technology is a great thing entirely, but when I started out as a writer, newspapers were still using hot/cold printing techniques. I will always remember the smell of ink and the crank of machinery in the Irish Press in Burgh Quay in Dublin, or at the back door to the Irish Times in Fleet Street, the black and blue stained hands and overalls of the printers in the canteen in the old Cork Examiner offices in Academy Street when they came upstairs for their mugs of tea as that day’s Evening Echo went out on the streets. Over the years, my collection of printing blocks and wooden butter and biscuit moulds and presses grew. I bought some in India, in Singapore, in the Coal Quay in Cork, in Christmas markets in Germany. When we got an apartment in Berlin, I assembled them on an old off-cut of hardwood, and the piece keeps growing.
Yesterday I added two more pieces to the design, a wooden exclamation mark and a comma which I bought at Plainpalais Market in Geneva in March for a couple of Swiss francs.