In a universe far away, I am seven. It is an unearthly hour of the morning. All humans are asleep. It’s just me and the sky. It’s cold and foggy. I can see my breath. I am talking to myself and pushing a pram with my dolls outside my house. There is no other world except this place so I talk to it. At the back of our garden there is a tree where I sit for hours buried in the green foliage. I write in my notebook and sing to birds and tell them I love them.
Now I am twenty seven. I still talk to a world, just like the one I made when I was seven but my surroundings have changed. In my artwork I imagine the characters I invent in the environment I’m in. They surround me, talk to me and look after me wherever I go. They are entities that are close to me. I can see clearer with them. Without them my history would be sad, as so much of life can be recalled. In my first exhibition, I was literally surrounded by my characters in frames. I put my world in their hands and no one else’s.
I invented my friend Sally before I met her. When I was nine I wrote a story I’d like to share with you. I called it ‘My Invention of Sally’.
Hi! My name is Sally. I am nineteen. When I was fifteen strange things began to happen to me. Would you like to hear my amazing story? I’m sure you would. Now let’s begin.
It all began on Tuesday. I went downstairs and had my breakfast of golden crispy flakes that swam and sunk in ice cold milk. I then bid farewell to my mum and dad and off I went to school. It was a boring day. All that the teacher did was blab on and on about doing our school play.
When I got home I did my homework. Finally when I was finished I had my dinner. Yes! Today mum had potato mash with sausages lingered with cheese and apricot sauce. Then I went out to my shed in our back garden and fiddled with my pencil. I had nothing to do so I decided to go for a nap in my hammock. I dreamed that I was eating a chocolate bun and when I was about to eat it I put out my tongue and bit it. And oh! It was sore. I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I thought and thought and just about as I had an idea I had to go to bed.
I went up stairs and put my nightie on and read for ten minutes. I then put my light out and went to sleep. At midnight I woke up to find noises in the shed. I went down stairs with my oil lamp and went to the shed. With each step a tiny bubble of sweat ran down my face. I opened the door and there before me was another me. I’m dreaming okay but no I wasn’t. She took me by the hand and we flew into the sky. It began to snow. Small icy flakes of snow fell on our cold faces. Sally took me places that were magical and made of crystal. We played and laughed and shared each others laughter. Then she took me home. She gave me a flake of ice that would never melt and an icy kiss. She then disappeared. I then went back to sleep. That morning the flake of ice was still lying at my bedside.
My friend Sally Fennessy came into my real world when I was sixteen. She was the reason my characters in my pictures became real in my first exhibition which I had with her in our local library in Clonmel. I like to think however, she had been in my real world all along.
Lena O’ Connell
Lena O’ Connell graduated from the Limerick School of Art and Design in 2009. She specialised in fine art, sculpture. Lena currently lives and works in Daegu, South Korea. She teaches English and is involved with a children’s art group.