I Love Christmas. I really do. I also love St. Patrick's Day, Easter, New Years and all the celebratory days in-between. Everyone gets excited, decorating their house and taking part in a shared festive feeling. My earliest memories as a child include Christmas Trees, Fireworks, shamrocks, Easter Eggs... It's no secret I'm a BIG fan of expression, and in my eyes we use these festivals to really express ourselves creatively. We paint windows, carefully place each and every bauble on the tree, string banners from corner to corner, and it's the one time when even the people who swear they haven't a creative bone in their body will confidently decorate their house in a perfect demonstration of their hidden artistry.
Halloween tops ALL of these. Not only do we decorate our house, we decorate ourselves and/or our kids. We go out of our way to play around with face-paints, take time to sew together that costume for the school party and spend an entire evening playing dress-up as a family, or even just helping our children expand their imagination. I LOVE IT!! It captures everything that I try to encourage day to day in this world. Imagining your creativity and going with it.
The Kenmare Halloween Howl has, over the years, opened my eyes to the intense magnificence of Halloween in a way that I never imagined. I grew up in a small village where Trick or Treating was not much of a thing. The first year my sister and I wandered around door to door in our homemade bat and witch costumes many doors didn't open at all and the ones that did scrambled to find something to offer us. It was a year of fruit and copper coins. And we were delighted.
As the years went by, the town became better prepared, as did the other children. We saw more and more Trick or Treaters with enthusiastic parents in-tow, and often the costumes were just a black bin bag tied as a cape over plain clothes and wellies. We started to get sweets! And crisps, and from the little old men in the pub we got a pound each. Real treasure.
Many years passed since then (I won't admit how many...) and Ireland has leapt forward into an age of creative expression and an eagerness to be involved. The Halloween Howl festival began and suddenly everyone seemed to realise just what they were allowed to do at the end of October.
They were allowed to dress up in crazy costumes and paint their faces in grotesque and fantastical pictures of all things creepy and crafty! Adults could tear their clothes to shreds and stalk about like zombies, the shops suddenly had affordable masks and outfits so that anyone could become something else for a night. Events popped up like the Witches Kitchen where it turned out that there really were people who wanted to dress up and act out a part as a terrifying sorceress. And you know what? They were AMAZING at it! That person who served you in the shop down the road just yesterday transformed into this magnificent mystical crone stirring cauldrons of bubbling goop. You could almost taste the magic being conjured up out of thin air.
The people who started the Halloween Howl deserve medals of honour, as do the people who have kept it going and improving year upon year. They have created a festive environment where people celebrate their ability to create art and display it in their homes, their shops, on their faces, in their costumes, in the way they lurch down Main Street, or dance with sprightly step through the green. They express it in the way they help their children drape their ghostly attire with careful attention, in the way they volunteer to help out with Haunted Forest and take time to practice their harrowing shrieks and screams. These are people who, if asked, would never get up on stage or make a public speech. Who have stepped into our studio and despaired at the lack of their artistic ability as they try to replicate a pottery piece painted by someone else. Yet there they are, giving their Halloween character it's own flair and sparkle. The Arts typically refer to any form of creative activity; painting, drama and dance to name a few.
So when you're sitting there splashing that fake blood across your chest in a deliberate random splatter-effect, or putting the final touches to your Day of the Dead face-paint skull face, helping your child attach those fairy wings, placing the pumpkin in the window or carefully arranging the Trick or Treat sweets by colour and type in the bowl by the door; these are expressions of your art.
They're that right-side brain lighting up like a monster's edible-child radar on October 31st.
Photos of Halloween Howl courtesy of Photographer Stuart Carson
Kenmare Halloween Howl 2016