Thursday, 14 August 2008

Artist Jan Mitchell's Remembrance at Glendalough in Ireland

Jan Mitchell's Irish remembrance at Glendalough in Ireland.

Last week the ashes of Jan Mitchell, my godmother, were sprinkled over Glendalough by her sister. An occasion that I should have gone to but I was not organised and did not have the finances.

Glendalough was one of the places where I used to go with Jan and her boys for picnics, when I was little. I used to paddle in amongst the fools gold that glistened in the water or wander around with my handbag and rainbow fake-fur coat.

There were lots of people at Glendalough whom I haven’t seen for over 20 years or so. On the photos Eugene and May Lambert are looking well. Years ago I worked for the Lamberts at their puppet theatre. At the theatre Jan had made the first knitted puppets in the world.

I had the privilege of re-painting a sign Jan had designed thirty years before. Of course I had to make it exactly the same. Beads of sweat came pouring down my face while I was being watched by the Lamberts’ grandchildren while painting it.

Then there is Willy Finnie… I had a work experience placement with Willy in the graphics department when I was at college. He had been trained by Jan and always praised her and the good old days. I went to college at the time when computers started replacing people.

During my work experience I made a little 8mm film in one of the empty studios. Willie put on a gorilla costume for it and lots of old faces came in and said something on my film. The film came out upside down however – I wish I knew what I was doing at the time. One thing I did learn was that being on a computer in a dark room was no life for a creative artist like me. And what did get on the cards was going to visit Jan, who by then lived Down Under.

Jan will be missed by a lot of people, she was hugely inspiring.

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