Monday, 13 July 2015
Mother of Pearl Cafe is run by Mona, a beautiful creative soul who welcomed us with open arms and love in her heart.
I had asked that all of us in the team came together, even Dom before he whizzed off to (try to) catch an early ferry home for work) for a final sharing at 4.00pm.
As the festival goers started their journey home, some of them stayed with us for another 2 hours of poems, dancing and song.
For me, I was very privileged to be able to sing the song I had written with Ger & Ciaran the night before on their comfy sofa, right there in the cafe.
Ciaran had been adamant he wouldn't perform, but I gave Ron the eye and he worked his magic.
Afterwards, Ciaran said that the time had just felt right.
It was very generous of Ciaran to let us have his spot in Mother of Pearl where he regularly plays on a Sunday afternoon, and a very fine guitarist he is, too.
Mark, our actor, danced, Mab, our poet, sang, Laura, our dancer, read her first ever poetry ... interspersed with Ron's poignant lyrics, Paul's captivating melodies and Anne's layered stories. Sam & Laura danced to Mab's poems, and all the while, we supped Mona's coffee and ate her scrumptious cakes.
At 6pm we meandered down to the front to meet Sean and his team, where Sam and I danced tango with the public.
I don't remember having ever gone to bed with such a big smile on my face and with so much love in my heart.
Thank you Sean, Mary, Kieth, Trisha, The Team, Tramore Tourism, the 'Adopt an Artist' homes, the hotels, the pubs & B&B's, the cafes who hosted us. The lovely folk of Tramore who embraced us. Thanks to my Artist team for being inspirational.
See you soon my friends.
One of the joys of bringing a team of artists is that we get to collaborate and try our ideas that might never have occurred to us otherwise.
Poet, Dominic Williams and myself went up to the cannon overlooking Tramore and sat on it sharing poems with passers by.
We also did an experiment in 'poet presence'.
We stood opposite each other at the cannon and he read a line of his poem interspersed with a line from me, reading Ger's words that I had made into a poem about the very area where we were sat.
A passer by filmed for us and took photographs.
It was a very moving experience.
As we came back down from the cannon to town, I felt I had a better understanding of Dom.
Having completed my piece somaKanta on the Saturday, I spent the rest of Sunday writing wishing poems with people on the street and playing ukulele.
What was lovely is that folk came to look for me, like this little lad with his lovely Mum who had been at the Launch on Friday, taken part in my somakAnta promenade on Saturday and now sat to write a poem on Sunday.
I met all sorts of people but it was more of a family day out with large groups of young people, all ready to join in the fun.
I met this group (above) as I was trying a new songwriting technique.
I walked along the Promenade and the street strumming my ukulele, and watched.
If someone/a gathering of folk, smiled or jigged from side to side, I started singing a song about them, then and there on the spot with the ukulele, by asking their name.
For instance, a little girl was wearing a peppa pig t-shirt. She was with her mum eating ice cream. Her name was Beth.
Beth likes walking by the sea
Eating ice cream with mum-my
At The Promenade on the coast
Beth likes Peppa Pig the most
And then I carried on walking, leaving the groups of people smiling, laughing and wondering what had just happened!
When groups of young people responded really well, joining in and having fun, I stopped and worked with them, sitting on my shawl writing wishing poems sitting on the street.
It was great trying a new way of working but the funniest thing I think was working with the Karate team on the Promenade.
I asked the leader if he minded me playing ukulele as I thought it might put them off, but he said that they were entering an International Contest next week and that they were practicing here on the Promenade specifically to work on focus and not to be taken from that focus by the festival.
So, I set about playing music that was a complete off beat counter rhythm to what the karate routine was following. I can honestly say I have never done that before! I couldn't help chuckle to myself.
And so the final day of the festival was coming to a close. Time to head on up to Mother of Pearl Cafe where I had asked all 11 of the Welsh Artist Team to come together at 4.00pm and share a final hour of the festival led by Ron, Paul & Anne, before meeting with Sean and his team.
We were up early Sunday morning and down to Tramore Radio station where I was set the task of interviewing all 11 Welsh Artists at once.
I have had a bit of experience on the radio. Some of you may remember my stint as a presenter on the Late Night Love Show for Bridge FM & Galaxy (which I always giggle at as something of an irony!)
But I have not interviewed folk on the radio more than in multiples of 1!
It is not an easy task to interview 11 people at once so I asked the team to think of it as a team meeting, that I would go to them one by one to ask the highlight of their yesterday and what was in store for today. I had spoken to them all individually about what they had been up to so I could cue them if needed. It would be a wonderful opportunity for us to listen to each others' work and to tell the festival what was to come.
I also asked the team to only speak as a group if invited to.
What I did not know was that we were actually going out live over the internet and is was being streamed onto the whole Promenade, throughout teh festival.
All day, people came up to congratulate me on a great radio show. What a completely unexpected gift from Tramore. I came out of the studio thinking ... crumbs, I didn't know I could do that! ... and I felt so incredibly proud of the magnificent work that my Welsh Artist team were doing.
After the absolute joy of the Festival all day Saturday, home I went in the evening to my 'Adopt an Artist ' hosts, Ger Kennedy & Ciaran Conneely. It was so kind of them to have me.
Truth be told, I think they could have done without another guest! Ger had just got back from visiting family in the States so was very jet lagged and they were expecting another guest already booked with them. But they very kindly put me up on a mattress in their box room, for which I was truly grateful after a long day. They put the boiler on so that I could have a good long soak in the bath. Bliss!
As a thank you for their kindness, I decided that I would write one of my ethnographic poems with Ger.
She is a natural born storyteller and has a magical lilt in her voice. She is an artist herself and her home is a gallery for her work and that of her friends, as well as Ciaran's photography.
She told me about her childhood in Tramore and about the local history, including the Seahorse tragedy. I wrote a poem on the spot using her words which I read back to her. She was very moved.
As I had been writing the poem, Ciaran had been playing his guitar, so I was conscious that the metre of the poem had been influenced by his melody.
'Is that one of your own tunes?' I asked him.
Indeed it was and I saw this as an opportunity for us to have a 3-way collaboration.
I sat close to the guitar so that I could feel where Ciaran was going next with the tune and took the poem written using Ger's words. Ger recorded us in the moment.
It was a very beautiful creative collaboration and one which would make another appearance tomorrow.
After walking sand circles on the beach, I set out
to perform my collection of 13 mantra based on the life cycle of a woman from birth to be re-birth.
I had imagined that this would be a journey around the town into 13 different spaces but I soon realised that the festival is not about places, it is about people and SomakAnta became a sharing of 13 mantra with 13 different people/groups of people.
I met some beautiful and wonderful people on the journey.
For each connection, I lit for them a tealight candle and placed a shell with a heart shaped piece of slate from the quarry here in West Wales, and rose quartz.
I left them with the shell as a memory aid. I had chosen 13 shells specifically for this sharing from my beach in New Quay to bring for the people of Tramore.
These connections happened on the street, outside cafes, in the Tourist centre, wherever I felt drawn to a person or collection of people.
Each mantra worked on it's own as a piece as well as a collection. Such a wonderful inter-exchange of loving energy.
Now I will decide what to do with somaKanta here, in Wales, but the lessons learnt from it in Tramore, will shape my thoughts as an artist, for a lifetime.
So, I have described Friday night, but this was the very beginning of the most most amazing weekend at The Promenade Festival!
On Saturday morning I met with fellow creative Sam Collins and we made our way to the beach to ground ourselves before meeting the public.
Sam danced beautifully facing the sea. She had been here at 5.00 am dancing a Cherokee Sun Rise. Instinctively, I decided to walk a large circle around her, slowly, setting the intention of creating a space, a healing space, a space to 'be'.
It was a curious thing because every time I walked back round to face the sea, it took my breath away. I wanted to walk faster on the part of the circle that took my vision away from the sea, but kept my slow pace and enjoyed the thrill of it.
A young woman had been taking time out sitting on the wall, She came and asked me,
'What are you doing?'
'I am walking circles in the sand' I replied.
'Because it feels like a beautiful thing to do.'
'Can I join you? It looks very relaxing.'
As we walked our circle, I was intrigued. We had not come to the beach to engage the public and yet, the joy of watching artists prepare for the day ahead, drew people in.
Within 10 minutes, we had children joining us and other adults too. I extended the engagement by borrowing Sam's Sand Staff and asking folk if they wanted to write their names in the sand.
By this time we had been joined by fellow Welsh Artist, Dancer, Laura Jane Jenkins who started to play games with the children in the shapes they were drawing and so the engagement had begun.
I left Sam & Laura dancing in the sand circle and went to my next adventure.
The Tibetan Singing Bowls that I played at The Promenade Festival Launch are Reiki blessed and chosen for their octave tones to produce the healing and calming vibration of the infinity sound that they are known to produce.
This sound has been measured by an oscillator and scientists have shown that the computerised graphic of the vibration symbol produced is also that produced by the cosmos surrounding all the planets in our solar system. It is the same vibration. I like to think of it as the very voice of the Universe.
I chose this sound shape because the 4 men will be forever in our hearts, just as those who risk their lives' for the safety of everyone are also remembered for infinity.
I also chose it because of our infinite relationship with the elements such as the sea that brings us joy and yet such pain with it's tides.
The words of the mantra that I was commissioned to write & perform at The Promenade Festival in Tramore, Ireland on 4th July, are taken from an Ethnographic Poem that I wrote at the launch of the inaugural Promenade Festival last year, 2014.
That is to say, they are the words of the people who loved and worked alongside the 4 men who were killed during the rescue that took their lives'.
We salute you
4 brothers, Goodbye
We salute you
Land, sea and sky
Together hand in hand
Forever we will stand
Tramore remembers and ..
We salute you
4 brothers brave
We salute you
And all you've saved
Together hand in hand
Forever we will stand
Tramore remembers and ..
We salute you
We salute you
We salute you
We salute you
with the entirety of the Universe, I/we salute you)
Sometimes, I have this nightmare:-
I am queuing up for Heaven. There will be 2 queues, one for Artists and one for Organisers.
I will get to the pearly gate and the Angel will say 'Sorry, you can't come in with the Artists, you're an Event organiser, go join the other queue.'
I never meant to be an Event Organiser. It just sort of happened because if I am ever offered an opportunity to do something amazing, my first thought is always, 'How can I extend this amazing opportunity so that my fellow artists can also share this experience?'
The trouble is, I turned out to be quite good at making amazing events happen for others to embrace and over time I almost became marginalised as an Artist at my own empowering events for others. Ironic really.
This is something I have worked very hard to reverse. If I organise now, it must be on the personal agreement with myself that I still retain the head and heart space to 'be' who I am.
So, in this blog post, I am going to describe the wonderous and life changing artistic work that I did whilst at The Promenade Festival (and hope that the Angel at the gate is taking note)
My first 'performance' was on the Friday night.
Sean Corcoran, the festival Artistic Director, commissioned me to write a mantra for the 4 servicemen who had died during a sea rescue in Tramore. Indeed, the core aim of the festival is a celebration of their of lives' and a thank you to the emergency services.
This photograph above shows the Sculpture installation on the Promenade that serves as a monument to the men who died. It was was taken on the launch of this year's festival on the Friday night and I am sat on a little platform in the middle of all these people.
Here I am with Donal, who is leading the proceedings. Donal asked me to set up on the stage which I did, but the first speaker had not yet arrived. Donal whispered to me 'please can you fill in' while we waited.
I have performed as a singer songwriter & presenter all my life, but I am not sat on the platform as a singer/ songwriter/ presenter.
I am there to share a mantra to celebrate the life of 4 men.
So, in that moment, I decided to put into practice all that I have learnt about 'being present' during my MA Drama and everything I have learnt about Sound as a healing practitioner, inviting the audience into my space instead of projecting myself into theirs'.
I took myself to my most inner place. It was not a performance, it was a sharing of my own inner peace as an artist, as a human being. I imagined the reiki light of love entering me and cascading out towards the audience. This gave me a sense of inner peace I have never experienced on stage before.
When I opened my eyes, children were sat in front of me, the crowd now gazing in silent intrigue at the middle aged woman on the little platform, sat in a trance, playing Tibetan singing bowls and singing Sanskrit mantra.
I lost all sense of time and place, almost as if I were floating but when I looked up, I saw Sean in the crowd, who indicated with his facial expression and talking eyes that we still were not ready to bring on the speakers. He mouthed 'You OK?' I nodded, he smiled.
It was here that I fell upon the skills of engagement that have been my life. I invited children to join me and the audience sang a mantra to the Sun so that we would have a wonderfully sunny weekend. Which, off course, we did.
Aside: (I can not take full credit for a weekend of sunshine in Tramore. Sam Collins did a 5.00 am Cherokee Sunrise Dance on the beach the next morning and doubtless the Promenade Festival Team had been praying for sun for months! I expect Mother Nature had something of a hand in it too!)
Eventually, Donal came up onto the platform and introduced the speakers from the
I stayed seated at their feet, and now prepared myself to sing the mantra 'We Salute You'
And then Sean came up onto the stage and introduced me and my mantra. As it finished 4 flares were released into the sky above the sea to represent the Servicemen killed and then the mood lifted with Irish dancers before we all rushed up to the Majestic Hotel for the Summer Ball, where I switched heads to help Sean put together the running order for the evening.
It was genuinely the greatest privilege, actually, it was an honour to be part of the Launch Ceremony in what transpired to be a very healing way. To be present with so many in such an intense way was life changing for me as an Artist. Let me explain why.
Knowing that I can make this level of 'present connection' to so many through my combined pratice as an Artist and Sound Healer, has helped me to find a path towards my place in the world.
For this, I thank you Tramore, for your love, your compassion and your open arms.
The beautiful photographs in this blog post are kindly taken by Ciaran Conneely and also taken from
the Promenade Festival Facebook Page.
Sunday, 12 July 2015
Yes, I am falling in love. It is a beautiful feeling. I wake up excited and go to sleep smiling.
The person I am falling in love with is someone I have known all my life but she got lost amongst all the things she thought the world wanted from her. She had lost sight of her inner self, disconnected with her soul. Off course, she had not realised this. So long things had been the way they were, that she genuinely thought she was living the truth. Having said that, she must have felt something was missing as she embarked on a journey in search of presence, in search of her authentic self.
Stripped, naked, bare finally her journey led her to me and I really like her.
She is loving and caring, funny, clever, she has the ability to reach people, to bring them on a journey together, to help them believe in themselves & make change to the world.
She is ... Me!
I am falling in love with me. I have started smiling at me in the mirror. This has resulted in me smiling back at myself and honestly, that creates a shine inside me. And to think I spent all those years frowning at myself in the mirror?
Small things make a huge impact. On the way to work, I had no time for breakfast. This happens a lot. But this week, I thought to myself, I am going to stop and have breakfast on the way to work today because I deserve to have breakfast.
If I was someone else that I cared about, I would have said, STOP the car and go and get breakfast.
Do you know, I actually cried at the thought of being kind enough to myself to allow myself to be 10 minutes late for work to get some food.
I did stop, I had porridge and a coffee. It was delicious. I felt nurtured, loved and ready. I didn't feel like crying anymore, instead I had that feeling you get when someone loves you.
And guess what, I wasn't late for work either. I was on time instead of being my usual 10 minutes early and I was set up for the whole day.
I tell you this friends, to inspire you to learn to fall in love with your self. It is not an easy journey and indeed I am only in the early stages of learning how, but it really is a wonderful feeling and well worth embracing.
Tuesday, 7 July 2015
Wales Graffiti Artist Lloyd Roberts with the Community during The Promenade Festival.
WOW, what lovely comments my fellow artists and friends have left on facebook about their time at The Promenade Festival, Tramore, Ireland, this weekend. Thank you and bless you. I am deeply touched.
Truthfully, there is nothing quite like the buzz that artists get when they have the space and time to 'be' together and I am fascinated at how that then becomes almost tangible for our 'audiences'.
How many times do the public get to be so up close and present with Artists of different genres?
This is why I LOVE working with Artistic Director Sean Corcoran because to my mind the man is nothing short of visionary.
Let artists of varying genres 'be' resident in a Festival so that they can respond, collaborate and engage, expressing themselves in the ways that they feel comfortable.
Off course, some of the festival is programmed in the traditional way, it needs to be, it's a HUGE event now and growing even bigger, but The Wales Artists Team have the absolute joy of artistic freedom, in much the same way as an Arts residency, which offers up the opportunity for diversity, collaboration, development, thus shading the festival with colour & texture.
And in response to this trust, so these hand picked flowers, blossom into a glorious bouquet who work their absolute artistic fingers to the bone, sometimes beyond their capabilities, because they are awakened, happy, they are fulfilled, they are inspired, and, quite frankly, they are changing the world.
Yes, I am passionate; passionate about human beings and the ways in which they respond to the idea of 'presence' within the arts.
I have played likely close to a 1000 festivals in my long career, performing in the traditional way, programmed from a stage, awesome gigs, but for me, The Promenade Festival gives us the chance to authentically connect with the people in a much more personal way.
We become part of the magical and experimental visionary world of Artistic Director, Sean Corcoran, pushing the boundaries, making it so & being part of his immense team.
And trust me, seemingly impossible things happen when you work with Sean. I remember coming to possibly the very first whole team meeting about the festival, when all this was just an idea in Sean's head. In the meeting he turned and said to me, 'and you could bring a team of Artists from Wales, couldn't you Cheryl!'
This weekend, for what is now the second year running, indeed, I have put together a team, this time we created artistic opportunities for engagement ranging from regular Songwriting Circle spots, to Sunrise Cherokee Dance with Poems thrown to the wind, from Tibetan Singing Bowl Mantra to Pirate Sea Shanti's, from Graffiti Art to Sand Circles, from Spoken Word to live music, performance on the cannon, in the sea, on the sand, on the street, in the pubs & cafe's, live & radio ... the list goes on and on ... but most importantly, performance that etches life memory into the hearts of the people of Tramore.
I can not thank enough: Sean, his team, Tramore Tourism, Bus Eireann, the Artist host families, the hotels, the B&B's the Caravan Park for welcoming us as your celtic cousins.
Many Thanks to all the people who gave us lifts back and for to the Bus Station.
Heartfelt thanks to The Wales Arts Team: Mab Jones, Dominic Williams, Bob Edwards, Ron Savory, Paul Edwards, Anne Lister, Laura Jane Jenkins, Sam Collins, Mark Montinaro, Lloyd Roberts and myself for giving our complete presence to the festival.
I would also like to offer special thanks to Amanda Rackstraw because without her generosity of spirit we none of us would have been getting on the bus (literally, a story for another time)
Our love & thoughts are with our Dancer, Fiona Winter, as well as Festival Treasurer, Trisha Lyons. We send you & your families much love during this time.
And most importantly, thank you to the Emergency Services who provide the town with a strong arm of safety, putting the lives of others before their own.
If you want to find out more about the Promenade Festival here's the link:
In my next blog, which I will write after the ol' sea sick legs have stabilised, I'll give a more personal insight into the shannigans that I got up to during the festival.
Thursday, 2 July 2015
Well, tonight is the night that my team of
12 Wales Artists
all different genres, representing an
inter-generational spread of our vibrant,
gifted and much loved Arts Community
gather together to head off across the Irish Sea.
The list of people to thank is
So here is a short summary ...
We would like to thank the Superman that is Sean Corcoran, Artistic Director & the whole of his magnificent team for working so hard.
We really appreciate you.
We would like to thank
(in particular Mary Daniels)
Bus Eirrean and Eurolines
For making our travel possible
(Trisha Lyons the treasurer of the Festival for sorting the tickets in Waterford)
We also would like to thank all the wonderful Irish people in Tramore who have given accommodation/rooms in their homes for our stay.
I would like to personally thank the Wales Artist Team, most of whom have become very dear friends over the years, for very generously giving their time & creativity to come and join the Craic.
Thank you in advance to the many thousands of people who we will meet over the weekend. (31,000 people came to the first Promenade Festival last year!!!)
Oh, and I think I'll thank myself because against all the odds, I somehow seem to be able to continue to create magnificent collaborative opportunities to share with fellow Artists.
It gives me great joy in my heart to hold spaces where we all have the opportunity
to 'be' who we are.
My Nan always said to me,
'Where there's a will
There's a way.'
It is sound advice that has stood me in good stead.
All we need now is for the coach to turn up and we'll be on our way :)