Episode 5


Heather McKayIt was my great pleasure to talk to Heather McKay for Episode 5 of the podcast. Heather has been my good friend for a long, long time. She was charged with looking after me at the after show party of a notorious school musical back in the day and we’ve been firm friends ever since. I’ve seen her flourish as an artist, grow a sustainable business as an illustrator while living out her spiritual path with authenticity and integrity.


Having graduated from Newpark Comprehensive School in 1991, she attended Stillorgan College of Further Education where she completed a one year Art Foundation course. She went on to study Graphic Design at Dún Laoghaire College of Art & Design (now DLIADT) between 1992 and 1995. She spent a year in Australia before returning to complete her HDip at NCAD in 1997. Heather was asked to return to Stillorgan College of Further Education, where she has been teaching Design ever since. You can find our more about Heather and her work at Head in the Clouds Ireland and on Facebook.

In our conversation, we talked about the tricky business of finding a balance between art and business, how motherhood can enhance creativity and expressing spirituality in art.

Jesus' Death(Heather’s painting, which she talks about in the podcast, for an Easter exhibition of the Stations of the Cross.)ß

Don’t forget, you can follow Strut and Bellow on Facebook and Twitter and we’d love to hear your feedback at strutandbellow@gmail.com. If you liked the podcast, why not consider writing a review in iTunes? Feel free to share the love far and wide.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more inspiring conversations with women makers but in the meantime, keep struttin’ and bellowin’.

Zwischen Time

P1070984.JPGWhen I was pregnant with my third child, my yoga teacher talked a lot about those agonising last few weeks as you near your due date. You’re heavily pregnant, you’re sick of being heavily pregnant, you can’t wait to meet your baby but you’re also aware that life’s going to get crazy when your baby finally comes. She called it the ‘zwischen time’, from the German word for ‘in between’. She counselled me  to try and enjoy it, when I still only had two children, to be present to all the emotions that were surfacing and to get as much rest as I could. I wish I could say I listened. Instead, I anxiously counted down the days, analysing every ache and pain, thinking I was going into labour. I drove myself crazy and exhausted myself and cried hot tears of frustration when I passed the 40 week mark and Baby was in no hurry to make an appearance. Even when I finally did go into labour, Third Child was not going to be persuaded by a pushy midwife and took his own merry time to be born.

And of course, miraculously now he’s two years old. Where did the time go?

I feel myself in another ‘zwischen time’, a waiting time, an in between time, in my creative life. My first novel is currently being read by a literary agent, I’ve just auditioned for a lovely theatre role and I’m waiting for news. It’s tempting to check the email every five minutes and thankfully, I know better than to call up and ask for an update. It’s kind of nail biting, but I’m learning, slowly, to breathe into the discomfort. Sometimes I fall into old patterns of behaviour that are not helpful, old addictions and habits that only make the agony worse. But there are moments when I manage to stay present and wait patiently

I’m reading Mary Oliver’s poetry a lot these days. Her recent collection, Felicity, is like a prayerbook of sorts. She speaks Soul fluently and when I find myself climbing the walls, her grounded beautiful words are a real balm.

Here’s one that I keep returning to. I hope you might find it comforting, if you find yourself in a zwischen time and need a little perspective.

“Things take the time they take.
Don’t worry.
How many roads did St. Augustine follow before he became St. Augustine?”

Mary Oliver


Episode Four

Today I’m very excited to share my conversation with a truly inspiring woman, Lian BellLian Bell. Photo credit Roise Goan.jpg

Lian is a set designer, arts manager and the instigator of the Waking the Feminists movement. It was Lian who publicly voiced her anger and frustration at the Abbey Theatre’s lack of gender diversity in their programme for 2016, and who became the leader of a team of women who have challenged the Irish arts scene to reflect the fact that women make up half the population and need to have their voices heard and experiences shared. Lian was recently honoured by the Irish theatre community with a Judges’ special award, for leading the Waking the Feminists movement with courage and conviction, highlighting the inequalities in Irish theatre and advocating sustainable change.

We met up in Project Arts Centre a few weeks ago and discussed the clarion call that got so many women on board as well as her own work in the theatre scene in Dublin.

You can find out more about the Waking the Feminists movement and how to support their goal to achieve gender parity in the theatre five years at their website. Lian has her own site as well which details her collaborations over the years.

Hope you enjoy the podcast. Don’t forget to follow on Facebook and Twitter @strutandbellow and please do share the love.

And if there’s an inspiring woman maker you’d like to hear interviewed, why not drop me an email at strutandbellow@gmail.com

Next time, I’ll be sharing my conversation with illustrator and artist Heather McKay.

In the meantime, keep struttin’ and bellowin’





So I was supposed to post another podcast this week, apologies if you were anxiously waiting for the next instalment of inspiration and encouragement. I was however called away to an audition in London so, as a maker myself, I had to give my focus and attention to getting prepared.

I’ll be honest, the auditions haven’t exactly been coming in thick and fast in recent years, so when you get the call there’s a tendency for the head to take the staggers. So there was a concerted effort on my part to keep calm and stay focussed and do the work to prepare. As my agent kindly reminded me, ‘Be excited, but don’t take the excitement in to the room with you.’

So I was super zen and chilled on the flight going over early yesterday morning, and then as we disembarked, I slipped on some water and went down hard. Nothing like taking a tumble to bring you slap bang into the present moment. After I’d sobbed down the phone to my husband and limped to the train into London, I had to start the emotional preparation for the meeting all over again.

It’s easy as an actor to let the stakes get so high. That’s what drama is after all, characters in situation where transformation happens because of high stakes. But it’s always best to keep the drama on the stage. The bump and tumble gave me the jolt I need to remind me that no matter the outcome of my meeting, nothing actually changes. I am the same person, and I am enough. It would be wonderful to get the gig, of course it would, but it won’t change anything fundamental about who I am. And with every bump and tumble, you just get up, take some arnica, brush yourself off and carry on.

So I did my meeting and enjoyed every minute and then treated myself to a nice class of Malbec before catching the flight home.

All that to say, sorry I haven’t uploaded my latest illuminating conversation with another incredible woman maker. However, I’m sharing a link to a great podcast I listened to while I was away with Mexican filmmaker Patricia Riggen. Rob Bell is someone I listen to a lot and he’s interviewing people at the moment who have taken risks and overcome obstacles to see their dreams come to fruition. You can listen to his chat with Patricia here.

I’ll have the latest episode of Strut and Bellow up next Tuesday. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter and if you have anyone you’d like to hear interviewed, why not drop me an email at strutandbellow@gmail.com.

Keep struttin’ and bellowin’