Monday, November 3, 2008

Bangkok to Pai

This illustration is the first entry in my travel notebook in 2002. I remember drawing the girl with the elongated neck first in a bar in Bangkok and can't remember if I imagined my next port of call - Pai in northern Thailand or drew the background when I arrived there.
This piece was made using pencil pastel and gouache.
Hope you enjoy the work.

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repeat pattern

Made this pencil and gouache piece up in an elevated communal hut made for all the travelers to chill out in and have food and drinks. Nice place, Pai.
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Paddy in his hammock

Made this pastel sketch looking out from the hut in Pai. Pj my travel buddy, loved that hammock. Think you can get a sence of the surrounding jungle just by the colours and the way its drawn.
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Pai - at the river lodge

This ink and gouache sketch was made in Pai -northern Thailand.
This place was so beautiful and peaceful. Mango trees were dotted around its gardens.
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paddy field and Frank

The piece on the left depicts a woman at labour in a rice paddy.
The colours, sky and the way she is kind of tied up nearly hanging give the illustration a kind of sinister feel.

On the right is an illustration made on the roof of a boat of a Dutch guy called Frank who was 'full of beans' even though he used to take a hand full of Valium pills each day.
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travel companions

Made this sketch during a two day boat journey along the mekong river.
We left from close to Chang Rai in the north of Thailand and headed towards Pakbang in northern Laos.
On the left side is a drawing of artist and great friend Mark Redden , Aoife Casey whom I went to college with - then an english guy called Roo and his girlfriend.
Think we were all drunk on rice whiskey!

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friendly Monk near a shrine

An imagined welcome from a Laotians Monk.
First sketch in Northern Laos.
Medium - Pen Pastel and gouache.
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dry of thoughts...

'Dry of thoughts..Wait for the rain'.
A pencil and pastel sketch i made of Joel (a crazy aussie guy) on a skinny boat while tearing up the Mekong river near Luang Prabang. Scary but good fun. Dont know how I managed to hold onto the notebook!
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H'mong villagers

A sketch of Hmong people.
This area of the Mekong river in northern Laos was so dark with sediment.
Think the drawing conveys this notion of soil and captures a glimps of a wet day by the Mekong.
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cliffs in Vang Vieng

Faboulas cliffs with the Mekong river flowing quickly underneath.
Ink and gouache.
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Ink and gouache.
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'it's purgatory, pj'

Find out why I felt this stay was like 'purgatory' below.
Pencil sketch - Click on image to enlarge

confined clown

Made this sketch in Vang Vieng in Northern Laos.
There were alot of Israeli tourists around this beautiful remote place and that made me not want to go out to much. Lets just say I didn't like there style and attitude towards the locals and people in general.
So I stayed in and read 'The Catcher on the Rye', smoked too much, and made this drawing.
I like it.
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girl in vietnamese hat

Pencil and water colour piece made in Vientaine, Laos.
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Left is a sketch of a Wat (temple) that was up really high above the city of Luang Prabang in Laos. I really enjoyed the walk up to it - sketchbook in hand of course.

Right- a self portrait with notebook in hand on the guesthouse bed.

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unfinished monument

Sketch of an unfinished French victory monument in Vientiane.
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girl squattng

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tuk tuk and forest reservation

Left - created this piece while traveling in a rickety old tuk tuk.
Ink and gouache sketches.

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Lao Paco

A nature reserve near Vientiane. Our hut was elevated looking down over the Mekong river.
Beautiful place. The sound if insects in the evening was deafing till you got used to it.
Loads of wild life including very large scorpions that liked to visit our balcony in the evenings!

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looking East, Savannakhat

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Ms. Ken

Myself and Paddy drank Lots of beer at this womans shop in Savannakhet.
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waterfalls near Luang Prabang

This mixed media sketch was made after a trip to see the Kuang Si falls near Luang Prabang in the north of Laos.
There were lots of different levels at this fall with pools to swim in. At the very top(100ft up or so) there was a huge natural pool with a dangerous swinging rope. Great fun!

click on image to see large version.

Mekong river

View of the Mekong river from my hut.
medium - Ink, pastel and gouche.

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four thousand islands, Don Det

On the right pencil sketch - self portrait. On the left pastel waters colour and mixed media with leaf.

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Mr. Man's son

This pencil sketch was made on DonDet island in the south of Laos.
The boy is the son of the man we were staying with.
I absolutely loved this place and southern Laos in general. The people and the country side were just so beautiful.

click on image to see large version.

regime, under Pol Pot

Ink sketch about the Killing Fields close to where we lived.
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empty pages

medium - chalk and water
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bamboo diner

We went out to eat on the outskirts of Phenom Penh in really elevated complex of bamboo huts sitting over a large swamp or was the most unusual place. people would come across these really skinny walkways carrying your food. I remember really large geckos living in the roof of the huts.

This is a pastel and watercolour sketch. It depicts the hut roof and walls - the phone you call your order into the kicthen on, the top of Paddy's head and hammocks ropes.

click on image to see large version.


This pastel sketch was made in my home in Phenom Penh towards the end of my stay in Cambodia. The girls name was Red.

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Friday, July 25, 2008


The following drawings are based on a subjective interpretation of Brian Keenan's book 'An Evil Cradling'.
I have drawn many parallels with this text, especially its location, the place of my birth, Lebanon.
I started this body of work in August 2000 and continued an obsessive line of investigation into this subject till 2002 with the completion of a short video/sound piece, ' days merge into night'.


Brian Keenan went to Beirut in 1985 for a change of scene from his native Belfast.He became headline news when he was kidnapped by fundamentalist Shi'ite militamen and held in the suburbs of Beriut for the next four and a half years. For most of this time Brian was shut off from all news and contact with anyone other than his jailers.


waves of anguish

Sitting, stuck in the 'waves of his mind', I pictured Brian's body neglected, sore and eaten by mosquitoes.
When making these initial pictures I wasn't interested in capturing 'likeness or a resemblance' to Brian - but was just concerned with trying to portray the emotions he experienced.


turbulent times

In this charcoal drawing I was attempting to communicate the mental turmoil that Brian Keenan went through during his captivity. Charcoal can be such an expressive medium when used to its full potential.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

imagined visitors

reflection in a spoon

self knowledge

fallen sick

keenan - cell

the imprisionment of Brian Keanan

These are some of the first 'Keenan' drawings I made. This set of drawings was me attempting to translate the space (cell) that Keenan had to occupy.

a paper thin screen required wings

This is the first image drawn in my notebook upon my return to Ireland.I like the title - gives you an idea of how I felt about being home!

Saturday, July 12, 2008


This was the last entry in my notebook during that period of time in Thailand.
(mid -August, 2000).
Soon after I started to make sketches based on 'Brian Keanan's Book, 'An Evil Cradling,' which I had read during the end of my trip.For the next 'two years' I became 'obsessed' with trying to construct a subjective interpretation of his book through drawings and eventually video and sound.

gilda with bong

some dutch girl

recognizing nothing..

was here, where.(i can not deny what my scribbles reveal to me..)

whirlwind of imagery