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Joe is a disabled Irish writer and emerging-better-late-than-never visual artist living in the UK since the 1970s. While increasingly alienated and terrified by the toxic la-di-da of the capitalist mainstream, he finds that being reborn as an artist makes life worth living again.

Joe Mc looks ahead to 2014 and beyond

2 August 2013

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clay bust with poem

2012 was one great hoolie here in London with the pyrotechnicics of the Olympics. The glitter has hardly settled, and now 2014 looms on the horizon. No doubt we are in for four years of centennial commemorations of the 1914-18 war. As a pacifist, I am prepared to participate in the lament for the falling of millions on the battlefields and in the trenches. And all the civillians who were massacred. And what follows here is tempered by that sense of respect. As part of Caglar Kimyoncu's...

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It's still alive!

16 April 2013

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Man of Mass Destruction: Tony Blair

There I was in happy blogger retirement. Then suddenly Thatcher pops her clogs. I never liked the woman but feel that at least she had 'unfit for humanity' written large upon her. You kind of knew where you were. And also, during the 80s, there was a real opposition to the ruling class and her crowing at the helm. And let's not forget, the Conservatives got in with relatively slim majorities, so were unable to implement many of the oppressive policies they would have liked to. Her...

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Joe says 'you can keep your Olympiads'

13 December 2011

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After reading the recent article on DAO about the way the media are colluding with the current UK goverment in villifying disabled people, the hoo ha about the paralympics and cultural olympiad seems like monumental claptrap. There is an ever-inflating myth about the olympics involving heroism and perfection. The Nazi Olympics of 1936 embraced this passionately. With society's elevation of the super-crips and demonisation of the rest of us 'underachieving scroungers', have we come...

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Joe gets chased out of the forest ...

8 November 2011

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oak tree drawing

Over a year ago, I started writing this blog to trace my journey in making art to battle the monsters that have been raging at my mental health for over half a lifetime. Over a year later, I'm hanging in there. More or less staying well and still trying to draw and paint. However, things have been a bit on the blue-grey side for the past few weeks. In the constant struggle against the unnameable, I've added 'roaming in the forest' alongside 'making art' in the attempt to keep on the bright...

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Joe Mc rekindles his DAO blog after a very long silence ...

21 September 2011

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red cow in blue forest with yellow tree in foreground

Haven't been here on this blog for a while. Didn't mean to be away so long. About a year ago, i put up a few posts about coming out. This was a twofold thing : coming out both as a disabled person late in life and also as an artist, even later. I began to make art out in the open during a stay at an NHS Mental Health Recovery Centre where - somewhat exceptionally in the current climate - art was at the centre of things. So making art was a critical part of my recovery. In my first blogs, i took...

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Joe is bewitched by Adventures in the Dark and Light

9 June 2011

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I haven't blogged on dao in ages so am probably well forgotten and won't burden you with the reasons for my recent silence. Now, I feel absolutely compelled to break that silence to share something with you. I had a wonderful evening out last night at Graeae Theatre in London enjoying a cracking performance by Penny Pepper - Adventures in the Dark and Light. I've enjoyed Penny's poems and short stories over the years. However, I've somehow missed the opportunity to see her perform live. Last...

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Joe Mc is learning to draw ...

4 October 2010

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For some time now, the NHS has been rolling out the Personalised Mental Health Care Programme. Since hearing about it a few months ago, I haven't been given a clear idea of what it's about. But I do know that it enables Mental Health System Users to access funding for education and training opportunities if a professional agrees that there is benefit for your mental health. So far, I'm really happy with this as I've been able to enrol on a one-day-a-week course with the Prince's Drawing School....

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Joe Mc visits the Damien Hirst room at Tate Britain

6 September 2010

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'Mother and Child. Divided. London 1993' was the first piece of work I saw by Damien Hirst. You might recall it consisted of a cow and her calf dissected, then pickled in formaldehyde. I was revolted by it and hadn't a clue what it was about. A mate who came along with me to the exhibition said something along the lines that the artist was responding to all those who talked about an inner life. And that this 'opening up' was a way of saying 'look that's all there is inside'. About an hour later...

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Joe Mc remembers Naji Al-Ali

30 August 2010

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I have really enjoyed the past few weeks blogging on DAO. One of the pleasures has been sharing this space with the sparkling insights of Caroline Cardus, Sophie Partridge, Rockinpaddy (move over Jojolito), Dolly Sen, Vince Laws et al. And the polemical cartooning of Dave Lupton aka Crippen. Or is that the other way around? Dave's work reminds me of the intensely political cartoons of Naji Al-Ali. Although he was mysteriously assassinated in London in 1987 at the age of 50, Al-Ali's work is...

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Joe Mc on a journey through the underworld ...

21 August 2010

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A few weeks ago i was overjoyed on reading a blog post from Colin Hambrook, where he told us that one of his favourite movies is Orphée (Jean Cocteau, France, 1949). It is one of mine as well. After a couple of decades of boring, sterile computer-generated effects on modern mainstream movies, the scene where Heurtebise (the chauffeur of Death played by the amazing Maria Casares) leads Jean Marais' Orpheus through the looking glass - impeccably cut with a rippling surface of water - still...

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Joe McConnell is not feeling very normal today

15 August 2010

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oil painting depicting violence and destruction

'Nice to see you using art to get back to being normal again.' A recent comment from a well-meaning friend who had just grabbed my DAO blog and was feeding back. This stopped me in my tracks. When have I ever talked about wanting to be 'normal'? So, after some (but not too much) reflection, I feel the need to explain my position on 'normailty'. In my first few posts, I refer to the remit of this blog as being notes from a non-artist who started to make art. The making of this art seems to be...

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Joe Mc on feeling like Mattia Pascal

4 August 2010

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'Il Fu Mattia Pascal' (The Late Mattia Pascal), by Luigi Pirandello [1], tells the story of a man who, afer a lifetime spent in a quiet provincial town, vanishes and is believed dead. Elswehere, he begins another life which totally transforms his character. When he eventually returns to his old home, his family and friends can't process the new Mattia and find it easier to believe him dead. I sometimes remember this story when i visit psychiatrists. Don't get me wrong. In recent years, I have...

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Joe Mc in search of '5 Rhythms'

2 August 2010

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Watercolour image of a man playing an accordion

In the last post, I mentioned the power of music in lifting the vibe and helping you get through when it's difficult to do anything much at all. Listening to music seems key to what unlocked a lifetime's reticence when it came to making art. But the door had many locks and needed other keys as well: dance and movement. At the Jules Thorn Recovery Centre, mentioned in my first post of this blog, there was a wonderful session devoted to moving mindfully to music. Some of my mates sniggered...

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Joe Mc and the food of love

26 July 2010

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red and blue pastel of a figure drumming

I mentioned the other day that my recent recovery from a year-long period of severe depression was helped by making art. This is still working for me. And many friends and colleagues are remarking that I seem better in myself than they have found in a long time. I'm feeling so well at the moment that I have decided to slowly, over the coming months, reduce my intake of anti-psychotic drugs (currently Quetiapine) to zero. In the past, I have done this myself. And, sometimes, too abruptly. Things...

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Joe Mc tells the truth for a change ...

22 July 2010

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The writer and performer, Julie McNamara, once advised me to 'never let the truth get in the way of a good story'. Maybe it is ironic that, with her recent humdinger of a play Crossings, Julie went on to spin a heady weave of stories fearlessly uncovering terrifying truths about the history of the world. As John Keats put it : When old age shall this generation waste, Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st, Beauty is truth, truth...

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Joe Mc on cutting off his book to spite his face ...

21 July 2010

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angels playing lyres

Today is the day i say farewell to Facebook. I only went on it a few weeks ago because it was a way of catching up with the humanitarian flotilla which was heading for Gaza. The BBC is so unreliable in reporting on the Middle East, that it was good to be hearing directly from people on the beleaguered boats. But then I stayed on. Ended up with over 100 Facebook friends. And a squillion messages telling me whatt they had for dinner that day and sharing an incontinent quantity of visual data when...

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Joe Mc on how he came to like the Beatles

15 July 2010

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painting of a ballerina in red

I wish to say thank you to a dear friend who played me some old Beatles numbers recently, and made me realise what a tosser I had been for the past half-century to have been completely indifferent towards them. This was the first time I found myself enjoying their music. And out of respect for the Fabulous Four I feel a need to explain why they didn't quite do it for me previously. Back in Ireland – the unoccupied part – in the late sixties, the possibilities of independent...

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Joe McConnell on the kindness of strangers

13 July 2010

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In the last post and chorus, I mentioned that for some time now i can't stop making art. That's true. Now for as long as I can remember, i've been into drawing - pretentiously daydreaming that i was turning 14 years of schoolbooks into latter day illuminated manuscripts. But never taking it any further. It was a total closet indulgence for reasons i wouldn't mind exploring here at a later date. Anyway, fast-forwarding to the present, 2009 was a total fucking bastard of a year from start to...

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Joe McConnell is the new kid on the blog

12 July 2010

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This could actually be called Joe Blogs. But the joke would run thin very quickly and must have been used many times before. That's me alright. Always joking. Partly because all my life I've had an impairment which falls into the tabernacle of taboo. Well nowadays is there really such a thing? But if that is now, well way back then having a condition - acute hypogonadism - which meant that you hit the andropause before yer mates had even entered puberty was definitely taboo. Drawing a discrete...

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