CATHY DILLON – writer and artist

Cathy is interested in exploring the intersection of words and pictures.

Her creative practice incorporates poetry, photography, asemic writing and mixed-media collage.

Here and There, her collaboration with photographer and painter Áine Teahan, was part of

ArtNetdlr’s Hinterland exhibition in Dún Laoghaire in May 2019.

Here and There was partly inspired by the ancient Chinese text the Tao Te Ching. The aim was to work with nature as closely as possible, in effect to invite nature to be part of the creative process and to commune with the local landscape and its elements to create a sense of time and place. To this end, Cathy made a selection of ‘wild’ inks from flowers and plants foraged in the Dún Laoghaire area and charcoal from the remains of a driftwood fire she found on Killiney Beach. These were used, along with rainwater, sea water and natural pigments to make a series of abstract paintings on paper and fabric. The project featured paintings, poems, fabric and a notebook.

Together with another ArtNetdlr member, Indian-born artist Shabnam Vasisht, she staged an exhibition, titled A Single Nest, in Signal Arts Centre, Bray in September 2018. With textile art, paper collages and prose poems, the two artists responded to one another’s work, opening up a conversation between their two cultures. This call-and-response method allowed them to explore both the similarities and the differences between the two countries and cultures and offer a commentary on the times.

Cathy’s poems, photographs and artworks have appeared in, among others, The Irish Times; Bare Hands Poetry; Dlr Lexicon; Mill Theatre, Dundrum; Signal Arts Centre; and Dunamaise Arts Centre, Port Laoise.

As a journalist, Cathy specialises in the arts. She began her career writing about music and film for Hotpress magazine and later became film critic for the Irish Press. She worked on two seasons of the books programme Imprint on RTE before moving to the Irish Times where she wrote features and book reviews as well as working as the sub-editor on the books pages. She currently works as a freelance writer and editor.

Cleaning out the cellar

In Dharamsala,

one afternoon in Spring,

a monk in a marigold robe,

with a skinhead that gleamed

blue like a jackdaw’s wing,

said the moment of Enlightenment

is like the split second you get a joke.

Or maybe, said another, it’s like

when the meaning of a poem

rises like a mist, from peeled and polished words,

someone reading, thinking “ah”.

Clean out the cellar, said the oldest monk.

Climb, stair by stair, to the rooftop.

Lost in Delhi

Your voice on the phone sounds guarded.

Hard to tell if youʼre ready to break free.

I see you in that teeming city,

sandstone walls, pointed arches,

the solidity of centuries,

shadows of past savageries.

Youʼre carrying your small girl,

her blueberry curls, her forget-me-not gaze

that sees everything and makes me afraid for her.

Iʼm worried and want to call someone

– discretely, not mentioning names –

to ask whether I should worry.

Iʼd usually call you.

I want to say, rest a while,

a solution will take shape,

will approach like a turbaned footman

to bow and announce that your carriage awaits.