"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

Monday, May 23, 2011

Soul Inspired!

When most people think of Irish music festivals they think of fiddles, tin whistles, lively dancing and the odd refreshment. But times have changed and nowadays Ireland has many other musical festivals to offer, and for many different tastes. Festivals such as the Cork Jazz Festival, the Electric Picnic, and the Castlebar Blues Festival for example. And this month another festival which has only been around for 5 years comes back to Ireland's capital. Set up by a group of young dedicated Dubliners in 2007 the annual 'Dublin City Soul Festival' is an event about creating positive feeling through soul music. It's a way for musicians and like-minded people to come together and show their passion for what's best about Ireland. One of the big attractions of this year's festival I reckon will be the amazing and charismatic Mirenda Rosenberg, a singer from the U.S. now living in Ireland since 2005. Tickets are only €15 to see her, an absolute bargain! Check her out here in this video, fantastic!

There has been a wholesome connection between the roots of soul music and various musicians in Ireland over the years, and a great bond of musical respect has been established because of this. Well-known Irish artists such as U2, Van Morrison, Sinead O'Connor, The Chieftains, Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan come to mind.

And I suppose we shouldn't forget that little movie by director Alan Parker called 'The Committments'. This is the band that came to my mind first when I heard about this new festival in Dublin. It's a film I really enjoyed for the energy, the acting and of course that sweet soul music! Although I don't recall anyone singing soul music on the buses when I was growing up in Dublin. Weddings perhaps, but never on public transport!

It's not a bad redition of the old classic soul tunes. But let's be honest here and say that the originals are the ones to savour and add to your cd collection. The Committments were at their best an excellent covers band, not unlike a lot of the cover bands doing the pub circuits around Ireland at the moment. It is however nice to see that the old gang are back together again these days, and they have a 20th Anniversary Reunion Concert planned for next November in Dublin's Olympia Theatre. In fact they play two nights on November 9th and 10th, 2011. If you're lucky enough to be in Ireland around those dates you might like to enter this competition here to win some tickets. They recently had a comback concert last March with all of the original line-up. Here's a little video from Irish television with a few of them singing the classic 'Chain of Fools', and yes, that is the gorgeous Imelda Quirke singing!!...sorry I mean Angeline Ball!

The Dublin City Soul Festival's big banner-call this year is 'Cead Mile Failte', which is an Irish welcome as described in this short poem here.

An Irish Welcome
Here's Céad Míle Fáilte to friend and to rover
That's a greeting that's Irish as Irish can be
It means you are welcome
A thousand times over
Wherever you come from, Whosoever you be.

I recently received an email from one of the Soul Festival's event people asking me if I'd like to take part in this year's event. The organisers have a project called Eye Candy where they ask artists to donate a piece of their work in aid of the festival's charity. The charity in question is called the 'Musical Youth Foundation'. It is the aim of this charity to provide more access for every Irish child to music through free lessons and musical instruments. I did of course donate a painting. I didn't have a lot of notice about the event, but I hope this little piece which I sent over can help somehow. I call it 'Soul Inspired' with a slight pun towards Dublin city's most controversial landmark called 'The Spire' on O'Connell Street (see photo below). The 'Dublin City Soul Festival 2011' is on from May 26th to May 29th 2011.

Finally, speaking of charity events, for anybody living in Ireland there's a great little table quiz being held in Dublin on June 1st, 2011 in aid of the Irish Cancer Society. It's called 'The Hogan Quiz' and it's organised by a wonderful bunch of people with plenty of heart and soul. And they also happen to be cousins of mine so you will definately have a great night. For more information check out their event page on Facebook here!

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Are you ready for your close-up?....Not quite!

Hello and thanks once again for visiting my blog here. You're very welcome and I hope it's a nice day wherever you are!
Two weeks ago I decided to take part in my first ever photo event. Now I don't have much experience of photography, but I am quite aware of the elements involved and skill-level required for creating good images. I also have a little understanding of dark-room procedure having worked in a printhouse dark-room a long time, not that it's relevant in today's digital age. As a traditional artist I like to capture nice images which I can use to create my paintings. I do however find myself taking more and more photographs, especially with the ease of a digital camera. However only a few of them are ever used in creating a painting. This got me thinking that I should perhaps spend my time taking fewer pictures but with more attention to quality and technique. I felt the need to find out what kind of quality and standard I should be aiming at. So I took myself down to my local photographic gallery.

I had read in the newspaper about this event called FotoZAFARI, a 2-day annual event run by the owners of GalleriZEBRA, in which you sign up, pay a small fee and spend the day taking photographs around the town of Karis here in southern Finland. On this occasion several sub-themes were issued each hour to everybody taking part, but the main theme maintained throughout was 'CLOSE-UP'. The second day of the event involved the choosing of best images and the prize-giving.

For my first step into my new world of photography I brought along a simple low-budget camera. Well, in the eyes of the avid photographer it certainly would be. But for me this little Sony of mine in the photo here would have to do. I'm not ashamed of it as it takes a great photo in my opinion, and after all it does have 14.1 megapixels, nothing to be shushed at!  I found myself surrounded by big bazooka-like cameras and serious hobbyists. I felt it was all a bit out of my league.

All of the day's spoken instructions were in Finnish, a little unfortunate for me as I only understand Swedish, the other official language in Finland. Luckily for me a kind Finnish gentleman by the name of Kai Jauhiainen was nearby and happy to translate the proceedings into English for me.
As I mentioned before, the main theme of the project was 'Close-up'. It is important to stick to a given theme, a lesson I learnt torwards the end of the day. I realise now that it will take me a long time to grasp the rules and true artistry of photography. I succumbed to the simple idea of looking for interesting subjects and simply snapping away. The sunny weather also helped me to relax, perhaps a bit too much. When one of the sub-themes I was given had the title 'Liquid' I made a quick dash to a nice restaurant for a delicious cold milkshake. Well the sun was beating down quite strong and it was the first thing that came to my mind. I suppose I was quietly enjoying myself too much at this stage to get the slightest bit serious about the event in any competitive way. I was also enjoying talking to some of the other participants about the day.

Yep, here I am standing in the red shirt with the FotoZAFARI gang outside galleriZEBRA in Karis. 

Having said all of the above it will come as no surprise to anyone that I was not included in the awards and prize-giving. In fact I was a little embarrassed by some of my final entries in the competition. And I hope to throw them straight in the bin as soon as possible. I was however happy with one or two of my final photos, even though they weren't exactly true to the 'Close-up' theme. All of the images taken by participants (including mine!) during this special event are currently on show at GalleriZEBRA in Karis until May 28th. But for now I can only show you a couple of my better efforts below. I hope to return next year with better results and hopefully a bigger and better Bazooka!

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Asteroid !!!

Someone I know recently told me they don't bother reading newspapers or looking at tv news anymore because it's nothing but doom and gloom, and it's more likely to send you into a state of permanent depression. I've just been looking through some of today's news stories myself through various internet pages and I can completely understand. Terrorism, war, sickness, pollution, natural disasters, recession, job losses, animal cruelty, extreme poverty and the list goes on......
But today I noticed an article about something that could make all these troubles and problems go away!
Yes indeedy, all our worries can be put to bed forever.

Then I also noticed that the odds of this happening are quite long, depending on how you look at it.
Apparently a giant asteroid is set to come close to hitting earth later this year, or as they say, it will only just miss earth. The latter sounding like a better result for us. NASA have said that the asteroid will pass within 201,700 miles of our planet in November. They also say that we have nothing to be worried about. In fact a spokesman for NASA, Dave Yeomans said there is no chance of this asteroid called YU55 crashing into earth… for the time being. He said in a statement: “YU55 poses no threat of an Earth collision over, at the very least, the next 100 years.” Having said this, NASA go on to say that our moon is on average 238,855 miles away. This leaves a possible scope of around 37,000 miles between the asteroid and the moon. But I suppose there's no chance of it destroying our moon, or is there? I mean, 37,000 miles sounds like a huge distance to us humans, but in space terms it's just a fraction of a cat's whisker! An event such as this would obviously be devastating for the world as we know it. It may make the everyday problems we read about in the newspapers go away, but by then most of us will probably never have the chance to even notice nevermind buy a newspaper.
So in the meantime, life goes on and we all do our best to make life better for ourselves and others. Well, most of us do! 
So instead of arguing with your neighbour over silly little things why not invite them down to your local bar for a drink tonight. It may be the end of the world as we know it, but you will feel fine!!

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The Art Garage, Finland

The Art Garage, Finland
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