I’m Philomena Carroll
The corner of the map where I live
I live in Whitehorse, Yukon Territories.
To the west Alaska’s a next door neighbour, to the south British Columbia, the arctic is my storied ceiling with the Northwest Passage, way over to the east of north, summer daylight barely hints at dusk, the aurora borealis sometimes dances across cold northern winter skies, oh … and I’m Canadian these days with Irish roots.
For a while now my work has been photographically based.
I’m not a purist in any medium, camera, lenses, and equipment if any are the beginning of a story within the image not the sole means to a picture. I love what a camera can do but it’s not my destination, it’s my source and sketch book.
The everyday tools of work that make it happen
My tools are a camera, scanner, software, printer, light exposure unit and a baby etching press with dreams of being a Ferrari.
The fine art of training
My creative journey as an artist spans 36 years, beginning in 1980 in Dublin, Ireland where I studied fine art, painting at the National College of Art and Design, to group and solo exhibitions in Canada exhibiting paintings and photography with a side trip to a New York art fair thrown in.
My creative purpose is to find the weft of a story through visual language, pulling threads together into a weave that helps the story find you.
My goal, like the bards of old, is to pass on stories that connect and ignite your imagination by unearthing the extraordinary within the ordinariness of textured light or pigment and color. My creative intention is to draw your awareness inward toward your own rediscovery of awe and wonder. Some work is a gentle reminder to look up, look in and play a little. Some work asks you go quiet and deep.
When change means letting go to let new magic in
In January 2015 I stepped off the train I had been traveling on for a while, which was a good job with pension scenarios. I walked across the platform of an unknown station and boarded a train heading to a new destination.
I had an urgent feeling that it was time to reinvent myself.
I set out on a self-study journey exploring creative entrepreneurship, exploring ways to combine a working studio with a gallery space to display and sell my own work.
My map and compass
As a child I was a map making barnstorming aerial photographer, spending hours seeing panoramic river valleys, plateaus, and mountain ranges within small worlds at my feet amid stones, sticks, water runoff tracks in soil and low growing vegetation.
My father went where the jobs were in the construction industry of the 1950s and 60s England so I was raised in many places outside or on the edges of southern and northern English cities and towns with a few pit stops in Scotland and Wales, where I was born. Our Home was a caravan periodically packed up (including the budgie), winched onto a big rigs flatbed and driven off.
I was grounded for a while as I failed my way through most of the five or six schools I attended self-diagnosing learning difficulties as dyslexia at age 17. I discovered reading for myself as an eleven-year-old and books are still my teachers and gateways to the universe of learning and imagination. The amazing gift and insight from those years reside in knowing the heart centeredness of resilience.
It is a far richer universe when you do not know the answer because failure is the dark side of the moon called possibility. At the base of that tree lies a good story.
I reconnected with my childhood imagination during college years, when introduced to the work of Paul Jenkins; an American abstract expressionist painter (1923 – 2012).
That encounter relocated me back into my own creative map with new compass bearings. I discovered the dance of liquid paint and meaning of flow when I destroyed every paintbrush because I needed new ways to move paint around without a horizon line.
I broke painterly rules pouring liquid oil and acrylic paint across canvas discovering and exploring my way to complete two series of work, a later one my first solo exhibition at the Yukon Art Center in Whitehorse in 1999.
I am by nature an instigator. I discover the creative story not by following the prescribed rulebook, but by walking past the rules.
You don’t have to break rules to be a rebel, just ask new questions and step off the path.
I discovered my passion and vision with a camera when I stopped trying to problem solve why I could not envision and capture amazing pictures and began feeling my way around with light looking for the story to reveal itself.
Where the map leaps over the edge
As a child, I carried around an imaginary land called Canada with its white winters and trees weighted down by snow as my most amazing place to live.
Between 1984 and 1990 I set out on a personal quest to redefine my place in the universe discovering an ease of living and belonging on journeys to Canada, dedicated time to paint in Dublin and employment in England and Scotland.
I moved to Canada in 1992 where my partner Doreen and Siamese cat, Kiri (last of a great tribe of furry wisdom keepers) remind me to stay in the slipstream of a story.