lifewithdamien interviews> Irish Expressionist Painter Mr.John Adams

Art is about expressing yourself exploring beauty and intellect, for me I have to be absorbed into the process of painting, almost in a state of meditation.

Mr. John Adams has continued to embark upon a personal journey through his work since he began his career in London in the early 80’s. The Wicklow Mans current project involves travelling to Northern India to the village where his father grew up to discover his roots. While spending two months travelling about he feels: ‘It will be a time of reflection, for me to paint and gather enough inspiration, so that I can develop themes for my exhibition coming soon at the Cork School of Music.’

Mr. Adams is best known for his Cork Harbor Series at the Stephen Pearce Gallery. Also his Cork City architecture series held at the Cork Vision Center in 2010. For those unfamiliar with his work he has been developing his artistic expression over the last 30 years. He has painted sets for some of the most prestigious theater and film companies in London, Paris and Spain including The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Barbican Theater, The New Shakespeare Company in Regents Park as well as Pinewood Studios and The Walt Disney Company.

On this bright, Thursday morning of October 11th. I meet with Mr. Adams at his Cork City home in St. Luke’s. We greet with a warm firm hand-shake on the stair-way at the door to his apartment; on entering his open-plan living come dining room, the walls of the room display some of his most recent work unsold at exhibitions namely a vivid painting of the Elysian tower block for which the 2011 exhibition was held.

Mr. Adams was in a melancholy state while scanning over his previous art work hanging on the walls. Taking the focus off himself for a moment, he asked? ‘What do you think I need to do to this tide scene on the beach at Myrtleville, while summing me up as I admired the lighting he captured?’

Asking how long it usually takes him to create a series of paintings? He humorously replied: ‘How long is a piece of string? When I get involved in a series of paintings; I do like to prepare a lot of canvases, I wouldn’t have a set amount of finished paintings in mind, so I put them aside avoiding the risk of getting bogged down. For me painting requires letting my subconscious mind be in a state of meditation, it has to be worthwhile! The first few have to mean something and often get discarded.’

He says that his current work has developed a ‘subtle, socio-political message’ with a narrative that is easy to interpret‘. He gives an example of his previous work relating to what was happening in society during the height of ‘The Celtic-Tiger’. He said that he created a painting of God looking down from heaven disapprovingly at The Pope and the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. He is proud of the response that it generated when it sold at his Judgment Series exhibition. . He said: ‘for me it depicts corruption in political circles and the church.

As we discussed exhibitions that have made a difference to the success of his career he added: ‘I go through periods of unfinished business, with whatever has been going on in my life at the time. I suppose it was the ‘Remain in Light series’ with the focus on Trees exhibition in ’98, held at the Launderette Gallery.’

He relates this to a low point in his life where he felt his state of mind came through strongly in his paintings. He paused for a moment to think of one of his most successful exhibitions to date: ‘It would have to be the 47 paintings I created for the Cork Harbor Series. I could see from his facial expression that he was proud of how many sold at the time.

He believes that he was formerly perceived as a seascape painter, which is why he decided to update his skills by studying landscape and figurative painting, in the Summer of 2011 at the Florence Academy in Italy, he says: ‘I wasn’t happy with my technical skills, you never stop learning. It probably has something to do with the fact that I was thrown out of three art colleges.’ A roguish smile lit up across his face.

Mr. Adams has fond memories of a time when his career was gaining momentum; he had been co-curator of the ‘Cork Art trail’ at The Sirius gallery alongside, John and Suzy Mullane who opened to the public, with a 24 year old Simon Coveney who was guest speaker on the day .

When asked about how successful he’s become John said: ‘I don’t think I have gained any recognition, there are people out there who love my work, I guess! my work has a certain commercial value’. ‘I realize my limitations and have been trying to do more realistic paintings.’

The reason he chose to do the Cork City architecture series was he felt it important to record the preservation of the cities architecture prior to much demolition of old buildings during the Celtic tiger.

His anger towards the ruthless property developers was evident in the tone of his voice as he expressed the view that as far as he’s concerned: ‘these so called professional architects have no respect for the old world architecture of cork city.’

When he spoke about his art education and how difficult it can be to establish oneself he sharply responded mid-question: ‘I don’t have much respect for the art colleges, quite often it’s down to tutors not teaching the students anything, devastating their self-esteem, the students don’t really know what is asked of them.’

‘There are very basic things they need to know! like how to measure and mix paints, the color wheel for learning to create different tones. They’re just not prepared for the art world, Also I found the lectures I’ve dealt with are not qualified to teach students to do their own P.R. once they leave college.’

‘This is probably due to the fact that most art lecturers go straight into a teaching job after a master’s degree, they’re not that organized in my opinion. Administrators of galleries don’t always have the best interests of the artist at heart, some are arrogant and egotistical and rarely give a career developing artist a chance to get themselves out there. This is something that I have been fighting to overcome for many years.’

His most high profile exhibition to date, was when President Higgins whom was T.D. at the time, was invited to an exhibition at his residency studio at the Back-Water Studios in Cork Where he gave a painting to the former arts minister, his broken Leinster accent becomes more prominent as he threw back his head with a hearty laugh at my question saying: ‘We were buttering up the politicians.’ he said that he was interviewed by RTE’s Derrick Davis the same day, it all added to the excitement!

He continues to state that: ‘President Higgins is one of the few politicians who has any idea of highbrow culture. The media do not fulfill their role of promoting heritage arts, it is truly lacking in Ireland, which frustrates me! Certainly any of the arts ministers over the years did little for our reputation.’

He looked slightly demystified when asked had he a favorite painting and why?

He says: ‘I have done many different styles and it would be impossible for me to narrow it down to just one painting. I think.. Maybe one of my abstracts ‘Deep blue’ which I sold to well-known Cork Businessman, David O’ Reilly. I don’t feel any of my paintings would be my favorite per-say; ‘Art is about expressing yourself, exploring beauty and intellect. For me I have to be absorbed into the process of painting almost in a state of Meditation’

The people he feels have encouraged him are: ‘his deceased friend, Charlie Hennessy who had been a great help with his public relations, in establishing his reputation on the Cork art scene. His father and Norah Walsh were also very good to me, they gave me the confidence to believe in the quality of my work. It was a wonderful start.’

When asked what artists he admires, he said: ‘Francis Bacon would have to be somebody I can relate to. I have tried to paint like him; my paintings are definitely influenced by Francis Bacon, a loose expressionistic style. ‘Like him, I love to make a mess’. He described a situation at Pinehurst studios where his ‘love of making a mess’ in studio resulted in paint dripping through the ceiling going down on another artists work during an exhibition.

He admires the work of the Lavitt Gallery and how it has given career developing artists a chance to make a name for themselves. Although he wishes that Cork city could become a much richer cultural experience for the art viewing public. He hopes that one day his work will be taken seriously nationally, smiling as he says: ‘This is when the fun will start. It’s about time I can show people I can paint, pushing my technical skills. He feels his real success is a long way off, although he acknowledges his notoriety being due to his art critic stance and views on politics.


Health Literacy in Media and Healthcare

The National Adult health Literacy Agency(N.A.L.A) are currently running a health literacy initiative for members of all sectors of the health profession and members of the media who specialise in health promotion.

On Tuesday the 27th , NALA held their first seminar at the swift room in the Gresham Metropole since the Irish findings  for the E.U. funded Health literacy survey were announced at the Health Literacy Awards in Dublin on the 27th of November 2011.

Organiser, Denise McBride gave an overview as to ‘Why Literacy Matters in the Health sector, she also gave the Irish statistical results from the European Health Literacy Survey.Mrs McBride said: “One of the key highlights were that statistically four out of ten people in Ireland, have inadequate literacy skills to understanding the information that is written on health promotion leaflets and nutritional products.” Mrs McBride also discussed the free Adult Basic Education services that are provided  by the City of Cork(VEC),while also encouraging those present at the event to become volunteer tutors giving up two hours of their time a week for help with reading, writing, spelling, basic numeracy, form filling, letter writing, computer literacy and driving theory tuition.

At the event were human resource personnel and Nursing authority figures from the Bon- Secour and Mercy hospitals who were excited about integrating the initiative to daily practice. Many of the audience gave feedback on the importance of supporting vulnerable groups in Irish society with their overall healthcare needs. Commenting on the results of the Survey, Doctor Gerardine Doyle( Principal Investigator for Ireland) said: “One of the key findings of the study is that there is a strong relationship between health literacy and education, those with lower education have a lower level of health literacy. This has important implications in the development and integration of health matters in the school curricula from the earliest stages of education.”

Health literacy co-ordinator, Jennie Lynch spoke about the ‘Best Health Communication through journalism category’ at the Crystal Clear MSD Health Literacy Awards. She encouraged members of the media to enter, saying that: “last year’s winner in this category John O’Mahony news editor with The Irish Examiner put together the suicide in Ireland initiative based on his interview findings with people affected with suicide.” She also said:  “He was able to make a significant difference to suicide awareness by publishing 700 thousand copies of the booklet with the newspaper, an additional 200 thousand copies were also distributed through the national suicide support group Console and the community network Rapid.” Mrs.Lynch said that thousands of these copies were also distributed to schools, youth groups, parents associations, the HSE and Amnesty international and she also hoped for  more contribution from members of the Irish media.

Journalism lecturer, Berna Cox held a two hour workshop on plain English training that predominantly focused on the everyday use of language in writing and print instead of the use of specialized jargon. She spoke about the resources that are available to health professionals such as the website , which is dedicated to all things English including; quick tips and lists of words and phrases to replace in dialogue with patients and readers of health literature. She also said: “that although the health sector was the main concern responding to financial terms for health insurance  was increasingly becoming problematic for those with low level literacy skills, it is imperative that health professional and the media are able to get information across to patients clearly and concisely, this is why we have set up this organisation to provide membership to our network of training and seminars.”

Each year N.A.L.A. continues to recognise its members in all categories of it’s annual Crystal Clear MSD Health Literacy Awards.

Another important factor discussed by the audience suggested the importance of plain English training for those working in the economic sectors. Essentially it’s importance is reflected in how members of the general public deal with banking officials. The Jargon presented in mortgage and Insurance policies may baffle the average reader depending on their level of education they have received. The information contained in these policies may be seen as far too complex for the average person.

Thirty two years on and The National Adult Literacy Agency is still committed to working with the media and government to develop policies and practices that will help to reduce literacy related barriers. NALA seeks to assist professionals with their difficulties in communication with the wider social demographic. Plain English training in communications skills is an essential way to write and present information so that a reader can understand and act on it after a single reading. NALA is associated with PLAIN (plain language association international, the plain language action information network and the Irish Medical times.

Traditional Chinese Medicine(T.C.M) versus Ayurvedic Medicine

Ayurvedic medicine  which originated in India and the traditional medicine developed by the Chinese, both share a history that predates Ortodox medicine. It is in this instance that both are sought for variable health conditions with the former taking precedence as it is the oldest known medical practice in the world.Recorded evidence suggests that both practices have been documented since around two thousand years ago. Essentially it is unfair to dismiss such historic relevance to primary healthcare. Many orthodox medical journals have critiqued the validity of such medical systems due to unproven clinical trial data and the pressures imposed by regulation of pharmaceutical medicine.

There is much similarity in the holistic approach and concepts of both Ayurveda and T.C.M with variable benefits identified by individual patients.

Some of the therapies used in both practices are quite extreme to say the least and after much investigation it is worth noting which treatment you find more acceptable for the health concern.

Sources/Reference links:

Manual Lymphatic Drainage~The immune boosting therapy

Manual Lymphatic Drainage was developed by Doctor Emil and Estrid Vodder in the 1930’s,while presented with patients exhibiting lowered immunity such as colds and flu symptoms. At this time of changing seasons people feel emotionally and physically challenged,it is essential that we continually rejuvenate ourselves by flushing residual toxins and excess fluid surrounding tissues and cells from our system. This technique resemble a massage but in fact an assisted facilitation of immune boosting,rather than directly aiming to remove tension and adhesion by relaxing and stimulating smooth muscle and organ systems. M.L.D. targets primarily skin and lymphatic vessels including lymph nodes which are responsible for removing excess fluid through specific movements that encourage the proliferation of  the categories of white blood cells that destroy harmful bacteria and viruses allowing natural removal through the  excretory organ route(i.e skin sweating,urinary and digestive.

This assisted technique encourages the stimulation of lymphatic capillaries to speed up the removal of excess fluid,dead cells and toxins and over time repeated sessions begin to show multiple-benefits;energy levels are increased,skin looks brighter and healthier,swelling is reduced and the digestive  and urinary systems begins to function properly.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage has been used extensively in clinical settings such as  with Oncology(cancer treatment) and in the treatment of  patients with H.I.V/A.I.D.S.

Some Complementary health therapists offer this treatment as a holistic therapy but it is worth noting the training qualifications the practitioner has received. I.T.E.C(International therapy examination council) qualified practitioners have received over 300 clinical hours training as part of their qualification,but you also have the option of receiving treatment by an accredited practitioner who has received the traditional Vodder method training,often patients with more serious immune related conditions are better off seeking the treatment in a reputable department within a hospital,but as long as you feel you are receiving the benefit their is no reason why you should not choose a respected complementary therapist with sufficient level of skill to perform the therapy.

lifewithdamien interviews>Courtney John~ From Letters to words 2012

Born Courtney ‘Yogie’ John in the parish of Saint Andrew in Jamaica, Courtney John  is nephew of  fellow lovers rock singer songwriter Mr.Beres Hammond whom he credits much of his influence to amongst others. He has developed much of his talent recording songs with many prestigious Jamaican producers and labels such as Philip ‘Fattis’ Burrells X-terminator productions, Fat Eyes, Taxi (with Sly and Robbie) , Harmony-House and  for his own Fiwi music label.
In September 2007 , Courtney released his  fourteen track  debut album called ‘Unselfish’.
In June 2009, he released his hugely successful , second album named ‘Made in Jamaica’ which truly showcases his unique melodic vocals.
~Life with Damien communication with Mr.Courtney John~
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2012 18:53:36 +0000
To: <>
Subject: Divine Love and Greetings ,Courtney,My name is Damien O’Shea(reggae media journalist) we spoke  in connection with Live Messenger/Facebook/Skype chat the other day about putting together a typed dialogue interview for my blog
Date: Tue, 17 Jan 2012 19:09:12 +0000Bless. You can send  questions through when you are ready.Bless

Sent from my BlackBerry® device from Digicel

                                            ~Life with Damien interviews Courtney John~

Life with Damien says: “Can you tell us who your musical influences are, and what inspires you”?.
Courtney John: [..”I grew up listening to Alton Ellis, Denis Brown,Curtis Mayfield, and Stevie Wonder among others”..]

 Life with Damien says: What is the tour/ recording  schedule  like for 2012 ?

Courtney John: [..”I  go to Japan in May, and Europe in the Summer and America in the fall”..]

Life with Damien says: Have you any collaborations in the pipeline that you would like us to look out for in 2012?

Courtney John:[..”I have my most recent album coming out at the end of March called ‘From letters to words’ and I am currently working on another album with me featuring a producer call the Wizard”..]

Life with Damien says: “Of all the songs that you have produced so far is there any one song that means more to you than any of the others and why is it that you choose this one”?

Courtney John:[..”I treat my songs like parents having kids, none is more special than the other”..]

Life with Damien says:”Have you performed much in the U.K. in recent years and how do you feel about the recognition your music has received over there”.

Courtney John:[..”I have not performed there much recently,but I do like the vibe the U.K. gives me. It’s a very special place”..]

Life with Damien says: “Have you seen an increase in single/album sales, for the song  ‘Lucky Man’ since it was used for the advert”?

Courtney John: [..”Yes and it just goes to show that good music has its place out there”..]

*Interview links:
*Reference/Source Links:

Surfing for Fun and Fitness becoming a popular Irish past-time

Surfing on the west coast of Ireland is now well established as one of the worlds premier destinations for surfing conditions, with many competitive surfers from all over the world becoming frequent flyers in pursuit of surf  locations from West Cork in the south to Donegal in the north, it is no-wonder that the lifestyle physical activity has caught on for fun and fitness.

*I filmed the videos  for this post on Sunday 22nd of January,this just goes to show that despite the cold Irish winter weather people of all ages are not deterred in their pursuit of happyness.

Both beginners and experienced surfers,of all ages, from all walks of life share the waves at Garettstown, which is located about ten minutes from Kinsale town, County Cork in Southern Ireland.  The surf conditions are suitable at all times of the year , which only the  most dedicated avail of on a daily basis. The more adventurous surfers usually progress up the coast to nearby Inchydonny where wave swells and wind speed make the conditions more challenging and enjoyable for the more competitive. The most recent discovery for excellent surf is found further up the west coast off the cliffs of moher.

The benefits of surfing are numerous  and present; improved co-ordination and agility , cardiovascular endurance: improved circulation, increased oxygen uptake transporting vital nutrients in blood to cells, Toning muscle groups* Strengthening peripheral nerve supply making the body more responsive,secondary to this response makes the body better adapted to stress by balancing the adrenal hormones*Improves quality of sleep from increase inspirartion because of quality of sea air*

*Social implications:Mood boosting activity; releases happy hormones such as dopamine, tryptophan and seretonin

Garettstown Surf  School caters for beginners and the more experienced. Life guards monitor conditions all year round. Surf conditions vary so it is wise to plan well in advance by checking the surf forecast websites to get the best overview.

Bundoran Surf School (county Donegal)

Kite Surfing

Wind Surfing

Body Boarding

*Reference/Source Links: