In my recent findings and research around art and grief, I have been writing more. Some words you may relate to...

What a beautiful evening to celebrate the last day in my Holywood studio before I moved to Lisburn Road in South Belfast in August! Photos by Jamie Trimble. Nibbles but Suzie Lee ( who has a new cookbook out!) A little bit about my collection of work...

Cradling deep rooted grief. You’re allowed to work through it.

I am positive that a psychologist could glance at my words and give an explanation far greater than the surface level thoughts I have around my deep rooted grief and what it looks like. However, in this message I will unravel such thoughts and you can nod your head in agreement or pause to think if you relate.

My third boy loves sticking plasters/band aids. Recently I spent a whopping £4.99 on a box of clear plasters only to realise there were a mere 16 products inside the pack ( I’ll let you do the math of what each plaster cost). When we arrived home he decided that his teddy had a sore eye and she needed one of the new clear (over priced) plasters to heal her wound.

Not babies not yet grown. I wished them to school, now I wait on their return. Breast pads, velcro and routine replaced by Crisp packets, consoles and trampoline.  The beats of three hearts outside of me.  Hearts started in my uterus. Excluding baby M. 14 weeks, heart stopped, hospital bed, taxi home. Her...

This is the speech I made at my School prize day as guest of honouring October 2021.You can also list to it on my podcast here My name is Aly Harte and I am an artist, educator and podcaster. I hand on heart can say that friends School Lisburn enveloped and welcomed me when I joined in 1999 to study A levels. I loved my time here. To be honest. when the invite came through to speak today, my business was going through big changes- we had signed for a new studio which happens to have a shop front on the main street of holywood- no pressure! My previous Personal assistant Gemma sadly passed away at the age of 35 and, covid has meant that despite many successes, business is even more unpredictable than you would imagine in the creative industry.  I worried that I wasn’t a good fit.

  The beauty of running my own business is that I adapt and shift each month depending on new projects. The not so beautiful thing is that when a pandemic hits, your business plans come to a sudden halt. 2020 is my point of reference for this...

I made this over a year ago.However, I think it continues to be relevant. I am sure many of you can relate.  

Go away grief

  Grief, you are the boyfriend I never asked for and the meal I didn’t order. You are the loud symbols in my silence always craving for my attention...
I remember when I realised  I had a “print” shop on my first website. At the time I was photographing weddings and family events as well as making “ scribbles” . Now when I mentor creative females and I look back at my own career, I see how little I valued my work by calling the artwork “scribbles”.  However, to this day my husband and I laugh at how I just whizz a pen about a page a bit like scribbling. This is where the idea came from.

  The medics on the front line are the heroes and I made a doctor figure demo on my youtube to demonstrate the appreciation I feel for them. As well as the government, farmers, postal workers and many more keyworkers keeping this country afloat. But I...

Rather than ramble on as to the reasons why we may need these 7 tips right now, I’ll just let you scroll and apply as needed. Stay safe and stay home.  
It’s difficult for me not to think of my own Mother as Mother’s day draws near but then again it’s difficult for me to admit that, despite my writing to my deceased Father, to my deceased Grandmother and my dear cousin who passed away two years ago…I have somehow never written to or about my Mother - the only one still present. A constant in my life since Dad died in 1991. School, University, married life, my own journey as a Mother- she’s walked the walk with me. As with many of the personal pieces I write, my eyes begin to water with each click of the keyboard. But here goes…
My widowed Mother exclaims every time I write a blogpost about grief or sadness “ why do you torture yourself Alyson?”. She knows that I weep as I write. Some say it is cathartic to help me come to terms with my own grief from a young age, others say it is self serving. Yet, six years into my writing it feels bigger than that.
You had a turbulent day in work, a fraught journey home and now you’re sat on the sofa in your jeans and sweater after devouring some pasta with your hubby. You pop each wary foot into your slippers with the wool as light as marshmallows around your heels.
  Our family aired the tent out for the the first time this year. Last weekend we ventured to Portballintrae- the same area where I holidayed as a child with my Mum and my brother.
I read in last months Women's Health Magazine, in noted that we should be more open and honest in life. Apparently, this helps us to move forward with our lives and to prevent getting “stuck” in toxic friendships and relationships. When I read it I was drawn to the bullet points they had at the end of the article. One read “Tackle grief …”. It progressed to say how we are held back by unprocessed emotions, grief being one of them. As someone who “lost” (he didn’t fall of a pier but “lost” seems to be the terminology used often to describe death) my father a week before my eighth birthday, I can put my hand on my similarly defected heart (Dad died due to heart problems) and agree that the notion of dealing with grief stood out to me because it rang so true to me.
I don’t know about you, but the reality tv programme Love island was a shameless part of a my weekly tv watching last year. After it ended my phone battery took a hit as I crept online at the couples. Olivia and her baby faced farmer, Amber and Kem, Marcel and Gabby (my faves) and of course hot Calvin Klein model Jamie Jewitt and Camilla Thurlow. All of whom are fascinating to watch as they plummet into the wave of stardom since their departure from Majorca. What stands out for me about Cam and Jamie is their desire to serve others. Yes, you might think some of it a little contrived or look at Camilla and her privileged upbringing thinking “it’s alright for her standing in a soup kitchen while I’m here in my 9-5 trying to make my own ends meet”.All of which is perfectly valid but...
Good, bad, ugly, inward, outward, to self or to others – words have impact. A few  weekends ago my one year old poured a 500ml bottle of water over my laptop. I can’t even say I was unaware of the water, the pouring, the puppy, the toddler and the busyness of the two of them in the hallway. I was in the kitchen and somehow thought “I’ll just mop it up later” as I continued to clean the lunch dishes.
Wanting to open that shop front down the road where the hipsters gather and you just know fancy coffee will sell along with pea sized over priced salted caramel brownies.
Running my own business was never at the forefront of my life's ambition. It really wasn't. Art College was a great fit and teaching seemed like a fun occupation so I sort of ran with all of it. Until teaching was no longer a passion or indeed an option. Then I had to get creative and start to open my eyes to what on earth I would do after I finished my Masters in Fine art. I want to say my business has been running for eight years but really I shuffled along paying more for childcare than I was earning at the start of this venture. So it is only in the past three years (possibly since launching my first website) that the ball has rolled more than it has had to be pushed. I grew so much in the early days- I talk about them here, and continue to grow with every podcast I listen to, painting I under price and fellow business mentor I meet. My love for sharing information and encouraging other people has been in my bones and I love that my business, and in particular this blog, allows me to extend from my art in your homes to helping you ( albeit on a minor scale) with all things wellbeing and business.
  Where do I start as I think about the relationship that my mother in law once called "loves young dream" ? T he one that started with monthly gifts (yes, every month a different gift) bought from him to me. Not just flower gifts - a stereo, tickets to the theatre, fun dinners. For seven months he swooned me and hit the nail in the coffin (for want of a better term) by proposing on one knee while we painted the bathroom of his new house. Deal.Done.
Put simply, here is my super special Northern Irish gift guide. It is quite literally full to the brim with makers, locations, drinks, interiors and more to help you decide what gifts to buy this Christmas. I have not been endorsed to do any of this by anyone, I am just an artist who is passionate about and happy to share the love and to support local.

Image credit Gather and Tides

I'm all for clearing out junk in the home. So much so I even made a post about minimalism here. My husband views my 'tendency' for "gutting out" as a bit of an illness. This urge to clear out normally raises it's ugly head on a weekend. You know the kind- all is well and quiet in the world of family time, there are no work emails to distract the mind, a general state of untidiness has already descended the minute the lads come in from school and dump their School bags on the Friday. So, with all of this in front of my very eyes, I take a head staggers and start to trail everything out. Literally. "You have to crack an egg to make an omelette" my good friend once said. Nothing will do except a good clear out from top to bottom of a drawer, a medicine cabinet,  the baby's room, my shoe boxes, even the pots and pans can take a bashing. Feeling overwhelmed by "stuff" is something I struggle with. It sits better with me knowing that someone somewhere else can use what I no longer will. Looking around my house and feeling overwhelmed often is perhaps not the best trait for someone who is in the business of selling prints which in themselves can be viewed as "stuff". Perhaps it is to the detriment of my yearly income that I don't like to harp on about sales over and over again, but if you meet me for more than five minutes you will learn that my driving force behind these long hours, juggling three kids (one aged six months) and keeping a large number of people happy on social media, e mail and face to face, is not to line my pockets.
I spoke to my husband about how I *really* wanted to use this title even though it has perfect associations with the weird horror film 'The sixth sense' where a wee lad actually sees dead people. It goes something like this... "How often do you see them? Cole Sear: "All the time. They're everywhere. " What a skill set, eh? Or like Mel Gibson in the movie 'What women want' where he hears what women think ALL THE TIME.  Sure you'd make a fortune. I digress. My point being that with a title like "Seeing dead people" you'd be forgiven for thinking I had paranormal abilities. But I do not. If you're looking for ouija boards (a guy I fancied at the holiday camp site when I was 10 said he tried ouija board. Said he and his sister lifted off the floor. He also told me that he owned his own motorbike and had snogged twenty girls that Summer, so it's fair to say he might be a liar), karma instincts and/or a deep rooted sense of ghosts you will, sadly, not find that here. I am a complete scaredy cat if truth be told. I grew up in the countryside and when I locked my pony's "stable" (which was the old cattle pen within a big shed) I would sprint the one hundred metres across the yard to make sure I was clear of the dark, the leprechaun my uncle told me resided behind the big shed, or any kind of "bad men". This post is more about "seeing" my deceased Dad in the bodies and brains of my three children, my brother, and I guess, myself.
I read blogposts about motherhood these days and it is often about the struggles and strife of trying to parent young children. I am as guilty as anyone.  You can see my gripes here and here. Sometimes venting helps with the support network we feel as Mums finding our way in this. But what about if we celebrate motherhood, the laughs, the raves, the fun and the joy that these mini Mum and Dads bring us? What about looking at the best parts instead of the worst or even still, what is yet to come in our lives once we get through the sleepless nights or the teenage years.

Eyebrows on fleek in my High School days (middle pic).

As a child I was aware that School was to be respected, attended and adhered to. I enjoyed my time in the classroom. But being pushed in one direction or the other regarding education was not in my Mum's nature. Maybe she had a peace that things would work out for me and my brother. Or maybe it was because she, like me,placed more importance on the need to try one's best and to embrace the School environment as a whole, rather than push specific results. I "failed" my eleven plus at the age of 11 and went to a High school instead of a Grammar school.

As I sit beside my freshly showered husband of ten years

he watches Olympic hockey and I secretly start the typing for this post.

My aim is not public kisses and hugs for my husband

I have such a clatter of emotions surrounding this post.

Embarrassment that people will see these dire photos of me. Complete disgust at myself for believing that I am in any way out of shape to begin with.  Then I move swiftly to feeling empowered that my body has housed three human beings and looks the way it does after only ten weeks since popping out the last one. And finally (you still here?) I question continually why am I putting this sh** out into the world in the first place?

I have struggled girls.

The Aslan special edition print is available HERE and you can personalise it with a quote from Narnia.

I am not keen on promoting my products to the heavens when the hallmark holidays like Mother's day and Valentines day come up on the calendar.

But I often get asked about which of my prints are the most popular for men.

So below I have compiled a list to take the thinking out of it for you.

My art is made with love in my studio in Belfast. Then they are transformed into prints using Belfast company Media Design Print.

Therefore my work is 100% Belfast bred. Simply click the link above each print and it will take you straight to the product.

I don't think I know what a birth story is supposed to sound/look like

but I do know that since my second born in 2011 the internet has opened up a world of birth stories available at the touch of a button. It's kind of the way the world works these days, right? Albeit a little unnerving.

I imagine if I asked my Mum about her birth story it wouldn't have photos and bullet point explanations of her contractions.

However, it's still important and I do know what happened at my birth  which is cool and something I like to know.

You can rest assured this won't be the gory, bloody or even vernix covered story you may have seen in the past.

I think when you are pregnant with your first it seems other Mums want to share their story - how many hours she was in labour, the graphic details, the epidural wearing off too soon and the dreadful midwives they felt at the mercy of.

I don't intend to do this. The reason I am putting Abraham's birth story out there is for the positive side. Even if I thought this was something I would never share.

Don't get me wrong- you know I love a good moan on the internet especially where parenthood is concerned- like here about my hyperemesis and my struggle with pregnancy and here about my exhaustion. So it is not that I like to keep this little space of mine all flowery and fluffy with only the hippy dippy good stories.

It's more that I had a good experience and you can too. Especially if you are thinking about a natural birth.

  I am not entirely sure how this birth story should start.

Here goes

This started as a boring old rant from a tired Mum.

I had written it when I was thirty nine weeks pregnant, had a sore pelvis and hated the world a bit. So when I came home from hospital five days ago on cloud nine having had my babe and all was right with the world again, I looked at it with disdain and thought

"I can't air that moany piece of crap".

So I stalled it.

Then last night,

I don't know if it was a combination of the baby blues (it was day five), the exhaustion of a newborn or the fear of my husband returning to work but I lost my way and failed at disciplining (I hate that term- maybe 'failed at parenting' is better) my four year old for his rude behaviour and I hate myself for it and I thought, "Well, I may as well share the darn thing now".

Guilt ridden tears roll down my cheeks at 2.47am as I feed the newbie and type this amended intro because I keep replaying in my mind the scenario with the four year old.

I'll set the familiar scene any mother will recognise

Well of course I'm nine months pregnant on the anniversary of my Dad's death this year.

I am learning to embrace these little intricacies and coincidences in my colourful life, knowing that things do (seem to) happen for a reason.

When I thought they might schedule a planned c section for me I had this feeling

that the date would be Dad's anniversary (April 19th) and I felt surprisingly calm about that. I did use fickle language in response to my Mum asking how I would feel if this would be the case stating,

 "I think it would be quite nice. I guess it wouldn't be ideal if the baby or I died. Well, it wouldn't be good for you.."

Sometimes I really need to check myself. Insensitive and not really funny is how one could describe such a statement.

This post isn't intended to be sad or filled with self pity.

You may or may not view your life as stressful.

To be honest I hate even using the term "stressful" to describe a situation I find myself in. Or at least I used to. Having worked voluntarily in third world countries I find myself continuously questioning my perspective on life. 'I mean really Aly, is this stressful or are you being dramatic?" I say to myself.

I want my young kids to be ignorant to that fact  that Mum and Dad regularly stress about money issues.

I guess it is a way of protecting them against what is inevitable in their grown up lives with the rising cost of living and an ever-growing pressure/expectation to keep up with society - latest clothes, travelling adventures, a mortgage by the age of 25 etc.

Recent posts such as this grief one or this about online safety for our kids have struck a cord in many of you.

I have had e mails, comments and responses on various social media which gives me so much joy. I feel engaged with you, my audience. This got me thinking...

For some reason it's always around St patricks day that I am reminded of my student days.

Perhaps it's that my student days were the only time in my Iife that I celebrated the occasion with a full day of partying (sorry Mum) alongside my friend Holly and our four male housemates.

It also happened to be the time of my life when I held down an incredible amount of jobs.

Funny really as one would assume it it impossible for a student (!) to find the time to hold down any job at all with all the work and pressure they are under... One would wonder...

I often wonder myself, did I study at all?

But then again it was art college I attended for seven full years so it's fair for anyone to question whether "studying" happens within those paint splattered walls at all.

As I am now in a position in my business where I need apprentices to work with and further my career, it got me thinking.

"If parents and kids can talk together, we won't have as much censorship because we won't have as much fear. ― Judy Blume

I have referred to my work with young people with learning difficuties a number of times before.

Especially noteworthy are my sensory videos showcasing glimpses into art classes catering for profound learning disabilities and children on the autistic spectrum. All videos on there are applicable for toddlers and anyone in mainstream education also.

I became a parent in 2009.

This meant I couldn't offer art workshops any longer or work in a one to one capacity with kids linked to social services or out of mainstream schooling.

But everything I have learned from this work is as applicable now more than ever with my own children. Take from it what you will.

If my training has taught me anything, it's that all of these skills are people relatable and entirely transferable.

I have a mailing list for my customers

and admitted recently that I am not good at plugging my art prints to extreme during the hallmark holidays.

I lost a few subscribers after this,

so maybe I was a bit hasty in my honesty about organic marketing. However, my point was that I made sales and meaningful interactions with customers despite the need for me shouting "Buy this!". " You need this ". "Mum will love this ", Valentines day will be the best with this in your life"!

It just doesn't sit well with me.

So I wanted to say that although this is airing on Mothering Sunday in the UK. It doesn't mean I am shouting about Mothering Sunday from the rooftops or placing any more importance on it than the normal importance I place on our "everyday" actions, words and places.

I am writing this post to/for those of you who are struggling on this day.

This post started as a rant about the copious amount of kid photos on social media

but I quickly thought better of it feeling it wasn't appropriate or kind, so forgive me.

I'm a mother myself

and I constantly question at what stage  did sharing multiple pictures of our offspring become a natural part of our society?

It was around this time last year that I was in great turmoil

(I use this term loosely) about what on earth to call my new blog. The creative journey can be a laborsome and torturous one which always comes to fruition in the end but takes much commitment.

Finally I called my friend Adele with a light bulb moment.

I exclaimed;

"I am going to call the blog Darling Edna after Granny Edna!

It's 4am and I have my head down the toilet bowl thinking to myself;

"Is this what my life has become?"

"I didn't even drink that much... or ANYTHING in fact!!" ...

Reset the exact same scenario up to fifteen or twenty times a day,

everyday, for seventeen weeks.  

That, my friends, teamed with all day nausea, dehydration, headaches and low blood pressure, is hyperemesis.

It's 11pm back home and 6pm here in NYC as I type on my shiny new macbook air keypad. A friend kindly got us an upgrade so I'm in a fancy lounge sucking the life out of their free wifi while I sip on a frothy fresh cappuccino and nibble my complimentary cookie (and brownie and nuts and juicy apples - ALL of the treats).

Life is good, right?

When is there a right time to talk about grief?

Never really. At least that's the conclusion I have found considering I have let this post sit on the back burner of my brain for quite sometime Every time I think I will give it a whirl someone I know loses a parent, another friend miscarries a baby or , terminal illness hits a young adult close to mine or my husband's heart. Death is everywhere. Great uplifting start to this post, eh?

So what qualifies me to write about such a topic?

When Aly asked me to write this blog I was immediately suspicious.

Is she going to put it out there as the example not to follow? The do nots of fatherhood. As she has been know to tell me on occasions I am not the perfect parent far; from it.

Also many of the things I write on here are like Yorkie bars

Let me start from the beginning, or somewhere near there.

My husband Michael and I knew before we were engaged that we wanted to adopt. In fact early on in our relationship we openly discussed our desires to adopt and found common ground.

We decided that whether we had birth children or not, it didn’t make a difference- we wanted to adopt and grow a family alongside or after or before we had kids-

we wanted to adopt.


Time moves and changes and swirls us about the place. It creeps up and passes slowly, but it is always moving.

Camp reminded me of all of the above

Before I came to camp I had so many plans.

I planned to write a blogpost about our trip at least once a week, check in with my wonderful e mail community at alyharte.com every two weeks, make at least three mugs in the pot shop at camp, draw in my spare time, and climb all the 46ers the glorious Adirondacks have to offer. But go figure, I haven't done any of it or at least I haven't yet and time is running by fast. I have been in the States for almost seven weeks and my boys for just under six.

What a whirlwind blast we have had!


I sit writing this post and to be honest I would happily sneak off and tuck myself into bed under the sheets with Harvey from Suits for the night.

Or sing badly along with Deacon and Rayna of Nashville. Gosh I’d even go on a CIA mission with Annie and take a hit for the team in Covert Affairs on some trip in the private jet abroad.

Anything to get me out of my head and into the fluff that is a good box set.

Today I was awarded my Visa for working in America this Summer. It didn't come without a great deal of faffing and huffing and puffing and general scattiness from myself. While I stood in a line of twenty one other applicants I realised that I was one form short for the interview. Shocker.

This year I am all about following my heart.

  My heart wants me to throw some (hopefully encouraging) advice about motherhood to you. So here it is. I have two boys. One is three and the other turns six today so it seems rather fitting that I chose this day, the same day that six years previously changed my life for-ever. Right about now I was in the hospital feeling like I had collided with the stork on it’s way in when delivering the baby using a metal forklift. Then I sat staring at the fattest baby with the tiniest eyes that I ever did see. It was emotional.