Tryna be really happy w/o being really stupid.

The Light Stuff

The last few weeks have been shining with beauty. Everywhere. It’s the run up to Christmas, the canopy of lights in town, even the tiny particles of mica glint on the pavement. Winter is a time one could easily spend hibernating, yet parties are welcome with open arms and bottles of Prosecco. In the words of Mariah, it’s “festive”. Hold the Swarovski-embellished phone, here are my personal highlights.

Champagne toast celebration

Being in town is a must. Every year I make time for walking by the Brown Thomas Christmas windows. Slowly. There are fewer people in the way when it gets dark. Creative director, John Redmond, did a fine, theatrical job this year, as illustrated below. It bothers me when people are too caught up in what ‘they used to be’ to enjoy what the windows are. Supposedly a warehouse exists somewhere that archives all the old BT window props. The Westbury Hotel is probably my favourite hotel, for cocktails, brilliant Art Deco chandeliers, life-size nutcrackers and extreme seasonal tree decorating. I would even recommend just using their toilet if you’re in need.

Brown Thomas windows Sketch

Across town then, to the Liberties for the brand new Alpha Bargains. It still has the Carpet Mills sign up outside from it’s last owners. Aisles of tinsel, disco lights, static electricity, and 3D posters of wolves and fluffy kittens (heads lolling holographically). The other side of Christmas cheer. No less flashy, in it’s own, more literal way. These darker, colder days are exactly when I need a flush of fluoro. Outside, the hops from the Guinness brewery scents the air, as do small domestic fires smoking from red-brick-chimney-tops, like candles on a cake.


Light is beautiful and uplifting. Two good reasons for it to be used during celebration. Light is a gateway to transcend the everyday. It is infinite. Shimmering. The best distraction to SAD, gloomy weather and early nightfall. Is this what beauty ultimately is? A big distraction. From a striding Victoria’s Secret model to a can of coke; from Kim Kardashian pulsating before a flushed sunset to a burrito; from an icon’s gold halo picking up the light to a flickering glitter gif. Having more refined objects surround me probably leads to clearer thinking and better focus. But glamour is required sometimes. And anyone with a sequin of sense knows a bit of sparkle is best.

Cat computer GIF

And it hasn’t all been dim, lowbrow culture. Donna Tartt’s third book (and first in a decade), The Goldfinch, kept me happily indoors. A highly enjoyable part of Tartt’s writing is that she does a wonderful job conveying cheap, tacky taste in people. To the point that I think she herself must genuinely enjoy being drawn in by these traits. A large portion takes place in the glaring Nevada sun, spliced with flashes of the Las Vegas strip (in all it’s glory). It’s a vampy book, full of cinematic imagery, well-cut clothing, affluent backdrops and beautiful scenery. All of which just sharpens the unexpectedly thrilling plotline. Despite its tome-like size I brought it with me everywhere in case I found a moment to spare. In The Westbury, for instance.

Goldfinch Google search

Enjoy all the twinkling fairy lights now, while they’re still up. They’re the one part of Christmas celebrations I truly never get tired of, and they’re fleeting. Why, oh why, can they not stay up for January and February? Light is such a transcendental thing though that you will always come across it in the most wondrous and delightful places. Below, I have made a list of five artists who use light in their work or in a work. Shakespeare ain’t on it. The first three are from 2013. Raise your glass, here’s to a sparkling year.

1. Yayoi Kusama’s #selfie-sensation installation, I Who Have Arrived In Heaven, at David Zwirner Gallery, NY. This exhibition saw epic four hour queues. But it was all worth it once inside, where you had exactly 45 seconds to take a picture.

Yayoi Kusama - I Who Have Arrived In Heaven - David Zwirner Gallery - Selfie

2. These installations by creative Dutch duo, Ornduvald. These public ‘air displays’ are beautiful. More air displays please.

3. Norwegian artist, Martin Anderson, who is responsible for flooding the Norwegian valley town, Rjukan, with sunshine. A very empowering work. Godly even.

 Martin Anderson Norway Sun

4. 50s German art collective, ZERO, one of the 20th century’s most important avant-garde movements. ‘Pure light’ was their ideal and they were spectacular in their pursuit of it.

ZERO German Art collective

 5. Code maestro, Charles ‘non-linear genetic algorithms which simulate organic behaviour’ Sandison, has been a favourite of mine since he showed in VISUAL, Carlow’s well-hidden gem of an arts center.

Charles Sandison