About Angela

In 1976 I saw performance artist Alastair MacLennan stand on a main street in Belfast holding one ghetto blaster on each shoulder, the one playing Irish traditional music and classical music on the other. Passers-by had no idea how to take him. He made them ask questions. He made them examine themselves. He gave them an experience.

I was 24 years old and awestruck. I said to myself, ‘Whatever he’s doing, that’s what I want to do.’

‘Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.’ Degas

I got my BA (Hons)  at University of Ulster and took my MA in Fine Art at Hertfordshire University. The whole time, I was creating performances in response to ‘The Troubles’. That’s the soft pedal name given to the civil war in The North, I lived through at that time.

I know what it’s like to have a bomb explode about you because someone thinks hate’s an appropriate response to the religion you were born into. So I turned that confrontation into art and wanted to create an experience that helped break outside their automatic patterns.

I toured my performances from Dublin, Cork, Galway to London, Amsterdam and New York. All this time, I was painting and doing mixed media work. Much later studied poetry under Tom McCarthy and Dermot Healey. I took jobs that gave me a sense of connection and creativity. A bit of everything, from cordon bleu cheffing to social work to textile design. I wrote six books. Some screenplays. Including the short film ‘Broken Hearts’ which won an award for best short movie in 2009.

I also worked  at a Buddhist monastery in Scotland: Samye Ling. It was a chance to study meditation and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy under my spiritual teacher Akong Rinpoche. When Dr Akong Tarap was murdered on a visit to China in 2013, we were devastated to lose someone who’d founded our centre and engendered deep peace and compassion.

I responded to his loss the only way I know how: I published a book to process what had happened, to honour him and remember his work, bringing Tibetan culture to the West and contributing to the spiritual welfare of our time. I was proud that the book raised money for the The Akong Rinpoche Foundation to keep his work alive.

The world has all kinds of chaos to throw at us, but Akong’s philosophy was that, regardless of circumstance, awareness and understanding are the defining factors in creating a good life.

These days, I practice both neurodevelopment and sound therapies. I live in a healing centre I founded, a rambling building nestled below the Leitrim hills in the town near to where John McGahern was born. I treat my patients, host poetry readings and cross-border writing workshops. Volunteers come from the world over to tend our small organic farm. My partner and I have an extended family, three kittens and a sheep dog. I paint, write and still perform.

Today the artists that inspire me most are teenagers in the USA. They light up YouTube with their spoken word. They’re bringing poetry and performance to a digital Main Street, stirring up passers-by. They ask people to question things, just like MacLennan did back in Belfast in the 1970’s.

We need that sort of thing now more than ever. An experience. A chance to slow down. Look inside. Question. That’s what I’m reaching for with my work. When we get it right, that’s what a good poem can do.