"This blog is not necessarily for lovers of art, it includes a variety of topics and whatever. I'm a painter who likes to know what's really going on in the world today. So you might find anything from Shamrocks to Salmiakki mentioned here on my blog. There will of course be some boring, factual and informational posts, but I'll keep them to a minimum, I promise!

And I might get a bit nostalgic now and then.

So you have been warned!"

- Alan Hogan

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Puppet Master's Farewell

I just heard sad news about one of Ireland's favorite characters Eugene Lambert who died suddenly at his home in Dublin last night aged 82.
As well as being a much-respected and well-liked person, Lambert played a part in the lives of many Irish people including myself who grew up and watched TV in Ireland during the 1970's and 80's.
He was a great puppeteer and ventriloquist who invented some well-loved children's TV puppet-characters.

Eugene Lambert and 'Judge' the dog.

I remember one particular character, a dog named 'Judge' who was part of a show called 'Wanderly Wagon'. He was a character most children of the time could relate to and trust.

It was no surprise that Lambert's wonderful canine character 'Judge' was also an important figure in public service campaigns for children's road safety throughout Ireland.

Eugene Lambert was also responsible for another very popular puppet in Ireland called 'Bosco', who lived in a box, only ever leaving it for an ice-cream or a visit to the Zoo!

Eugene Lambert was founder of the Lambert Puppet Theatre, which he established in 1972.

A sad day for 'grown-up' Irish children everywhere.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Top Hat In Bloom

Due to missing images this blogpost has been reposted with updates. You can now read this at this link

Kurt Cobain
(February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994)

If he were alive today he would be celebrating his 43rd birthday. Unfortunately on April 8, 1994 Kurt Cobain was found dead after committing suicide by shooting himself at his home in Seattle. While not a huge fan of the singer and his band Nirvana, I did enjoy their sound and I witnessed the impact it had on people such as my younger brother in the early nineties.

Kurt Cobain and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth

Dublin, 1991

One concert I recall hearing about while living back in Ireland was their support gig to Sonic Youth at the 'Top Hat' venue in Dublin on 21 August 1991. I recall this gig as I was more a fan of Sonic Youth at the time, and it was a concert I really wanted to be at, but I just couldn't get a ticket. This concert at the Top Hat was held just one month before Kurt Cobain's band Nirvana released their biggest album called Nevermind and it was the first time Irish fans got to hear their biggest ever hit Smells Like Teen Spirit. That moment must have been really special I reckon.

Here's an advert for that concert which
I kept from a magazine at the time.
(looks like the magazine printed the wrong date!)

Nirvana played support to Sonic Youth at a gig the previous night in Sir Henry's Pub, Cork before heading to Dublin.
Here's an audio clip of their song 'About a Girl' from that gig.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010


Hugathon 2010!

It's on your computer screen!
It's the Big Valentine Hugathon!
And it's free!*

(*indicates members must hug their computer screen at least once to avail of free entry)

It all happens on February 14th, 2010.

This is an all-day event for everyone.

Simply sign in to Facebook online and join this event now.
Invite all your friends, all they need is access to a computer.

Just click HERE for the only link you need

When? 14/02/2010
Where? At your computer screen, wherever you may be.

(allergy sufferers are advised to clean their computer screens before hugging.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ooh... Sweet Trifle!

Bird's Trifle!

I just realised I'll have a chance to pick up a few boxes of my favourite dessert soon. I have a short visit to Ireland planned next month, where I will have the honour of becoming godfather to my brother's baby girl. Looking forward to a great day in Dublin.
I hope to pick up a few items to take back to Finland with me. And Bird's Trifle is top of the list!

I'd better pick up a few extra packets of jelly too. They never give you enough in the boxes. Unlike this one here, I prefer my trifle bowls to be filled right up to the brim.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Heart in New York

Song: 'A Heart in New York' by Simon & Garfunkel

It’s amazing how many art-related websites are on the world wide web today. With the world economy being the way it is nowadays, it has become ever-increasingly difficult for any artist to sell his or her's original work.
However, there are numerous websites available which allow artists to sell their work as high quality prints. This extra selling service offered by such sites can often be availed for a small annual fee and sometimes for free. Of course the artist only gets a small percentage of any sales, but if enough prints are sold it can add up nicely.
One such site is Fine Art America. It’s an easy site for artists to join and apart from offering a platform to show off artwork, it also allows artists to meet and see the art of other like-minded artists from all around the world.
Since joining Fine Art America and similar sites, I have met a variety of artists from places near and far. Finland, Ireland, England, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Peru and plenty more.
I recently met one such artist online from New York named Erika Love who shared her work with me.

'The Fox'
by Erika Love.
Prismacolor pencil and india ink.

Painting has been part of Erika's life since the age of 7. Oil painting was her main medium for a long time, until the early 1990's when she turned her attention to coloured pencils. This was to be her favorite medium now, and it remains so.

'Summer Morning'
by Erika Love.
Mixed Media, Prismacolor pencil, India ink and acrylic paint

However, while running around with a camera as an inspirational tool in capturing images she accidentally discovered a hidden talent. After several positive comments about her photographs, she decided to give photography a try.
And it certainly proved to be a good move. Erika has worked as a professional photographer in advertising, portrait and event work for the past 15 years. Living in New York, she finds there's plenty of new and interesting subjects to photograph.

'Outside Radio City' by Erika Love.

"I am always looking to try new things, to evolve the work that I'm doing or to just do something completely different. I tend to revisit the same subjects, but I like to think I do it a little bit differently each time."
Erika Love


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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Date with the Saami people!

Renée Zellweger chews her finger 
in the title role of Bridget Jones’s Diary.

From Universal/Neal Peters Collection

Living in Finland for over two years now I am still amazed at just how large the country is. Finland has a similar population size to my home country Ireland, but is actually four times larger in area coverage.
Of course a large area of northern Finland is open to severe weather conditions in the winter months and therefore considered uninhabitable by some. Add to this the lack of daylight and it paints a grim picture of how anyone could survive winters in this northern region of Finland where temperatures can drop to between -45°C and -50°C.
I live in the most southerly area of Finland and winter here can be hard enough to bear. I honestly cannot understand how anybody can live in the north of Finland.

However this northern area of Finland we all know as Lapland has a large community with busy towns and modern infrastructure. And with a population of about 184,000 it seems that long cold winters hasn't deterred anyone from living there.
Of this quite large population living in Finnish Lapland around 7,000 belong to the Saami community. These are the people who most of us are used to seeing in photos and on TV wearing traditional red, blue and yellow lined clothing and usually occupied by reindeer herding and age-old crafts like carpentry and sowing.
However, nowadays you are more likely to see a Saami rushing around after reindeer on a turbo-quad vehicle with an iphone gps attached. And why not? These are people who welcome the use of modern devices where needed, yet they still maintain and respect old traditions.

I don't know much more about the Saami people and I'm not qualified to write any detailed information, but since moving to Finland I have discovered that they are very much a part of a detached culture to most Finnish people. They have their own language, they even have there own TV broadcasts I believe. You can read more about the Saami here.

Homeland of the Saami people

The Saami Flag

This leads me on to Hollywood star Renée Zellweger.

What???....... What has she got to do with Finland you may ask?

Well, nothing really.
But I was a little surprised to see her photo on Wikipedia's page about some of Finland's most northerly inhabitants, the Saami. Well actually the Saami people live in the nordic area more commonly known as Lapland, which encompasses parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.

It appears that Renée Zellweger's mother, Kjellfried Irene (née Andreassen), is Norwegian-born and of Saami origin.
And today, February 6th marks the Saami National Day.
I wonder if the Hollywood star has this date written in her diary, definately a day to toast a proud part of her heritage.

And finally a little bit of modern Sami music. I'm not familar too much with the Sami culture, I think it would be great to head up to Lapland one day and say hello to all the gang. Here's some music I found on YouTube which appealed to me.

You can find out more about the Saami people and Finnish weather at these interesting links.

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Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

- Alan

The Art Garage, Finland

The Art Garage, Finland
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