Friday, 25 November 2022


From Oct 24 to Nov 6, I took part in the Meitheal exhibition at Signal Arts Centre. Meitheal is an Irish term to describe the coming together of neighbours to assist each other, especially with reference to saving crops or helping out with agricultural tasks. In the context of the arts centre it refers to this group show of staff artists, who have a variety of skills and artistic styles, coming together to create a coherent exhibition. Each artist was invited to exhibit a maximum of five pieces.

I chose to submit the maximum! Two framed pieces from the summer of 2020 when I took part in the combined Aos Dara-Umha Aois symposium and exhibition. I blogged about that here, here and here.

Saplings, acrylic collage, framed size: 58 cm x 44 cm, 2020

Lightning Tree, graphite, framed size: 58 cm x 44 cm, 2020

The exhibition was lovingly hung by two staff members to give each piece its own space and to allow the different works to be in dialogue with each other.

The show consisted of drawing, painting, ceramics and printmaking.

The artists involved were Don Rourke, Lorraine Whelan, Iseult McCormack, Deirdre Maher Ridgway, Dylan Clucas, Dan Laffan, Santa Selina, Lorna Lennon and Kelly Hood.

My contribution to the show also included three blind-embossed prints that I had previously shown in the spring of this year at Rathfarnham Castle. I give a virtual tour of Memory Is My Homeland here, here and here. For further information on works as they progressed, do a search on this blog for the exhibition title, which is the title of the body of work.

Ghost I, blind-embossed print on Fabriano paper, framed size: 30 cm x 29 cm, 2019

Ghost II, blind-embossed print on Fabriano paper, framed size: 30 cm x 29 cm, 2019

Ghost III, blind-embossed print on Fabriano paper, framed size: 30 cm x 29 cm, 2019

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Mokuhanga workshop!

Towards the end of the third week of October, I took a two day mokuhanga printmaking workshop at the Clones Art Studios, located in the historic Old Post Office. The building is in "The Diamond" across from the town's central high cross. I had excitedly booked the course as soon as I saw it advertised last August. Kate MacDonagh is an expert in this Japanese woodblock printmaking technique and I have  admired her work since coming across it in zoom artist talks over lockdown last year (through both Graphic Studio Dublin and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Arts Office).

While Kate gave demonstrations throughout the two days, the first day was primarily concerned with carving our own blocks with our simplified images and with especial care to measuring and getting the registration marks correct.

 I only thought later that I should have taken a photo of the space as it was set up for the workshop before the work began but the studios provided a spacious work area and demonstration area, that allowed concentration and focus to permeate the atmosphere.

Kate had stressed the importance of simple images for carving and I thought my obsession with chimneys provided an ideal image with which to work.

The stress Kate had put on the importance of registration made huge sense when it was realised that the blocks we were carving would work in tandem with uncarved woodblocks that could provide a variety of backgrounds. 

We each prepared a number of pre-cut Japanese papers for printing on the second day and with these papers we could use a number of techniques to create gradated or solid backgrounds for our images. One of the beauties of mokuhanga printing is that it is environmentally sound, using watercolour and nori paste (made from rice flour and water) to create a water soluble ink that, in combination with the fibrous Japanese paper, is incredibly durable and robust.

The workshop was about experimentation with a technique that produces varied and rich results. At the end of the two days everyone involved chose one print only as a sample of our work. The workshop was fantastic and we were all so grateful to Kate for being so generous in sharing her time and expertise with us.

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

Bones in the Attic

I made an excursion into Dublin's Hugh Lane Gallery before the end of October in order to see the group exhibition “Bones in the Attic”.This was a fabulous exhibition, curated by Victoria Evans, showcasing  works by women artists in the permanent collection in feminist dialogue with recent work by invited women artists. 

The first piece visible to the viewer (after reading Evans's wall didactic exhibition statement) was what appeared to be a mohair couch. Closer inspection of Sofa, the 1997 artwork by Rita Duffy, showed that in fact the couch was upholstered with hair pins. In this upholstery setting the common, feminine item rendered the couch uncomfortable and combined with the blood colour could only be seen as a threat. Definitely not an invitation to sit and relax...

I was drawn into the next work by the sound and what seemed, at first, to be a playful sculptural installation. The forms were mostly painted colourfully but there was also something ominous. While some forms were colourful and almost whimsical, they seemed to writhe in a way I found disturbing and the dark piece that hovered in the background (centre of this photograph) seemed a threat of some sort. The seemingly haphazard placement of painted sheets on clotheslines said something about domesticity gone awry. Learning to smell the smoke by Eleanor McCaughey is full of foreboding and angst and I could feel the tenseness inherent in this work without foreknowledge of her personal situation.  In later reading of her biography I could understand and appreciate that she was able to imbue her work with personal suffering while making it appear playful. 

It is always a delight to see the work of Jesse Jones, and visit again her 2017 work Tremble, Tremble through the various objects associated with this multi-media work that are in the Hugh Lane collection.
I wrote about that exhibition here and an associated artist conversation/event here. I wrote about her most recent work, The Towerhere.

Sarah Jayne Booth's (for) All Our Grievous Doings, 2022 is an installation response to misogyny and the historic demonisation of women. What has a whimsical appearance packs quite the punch when deconstructed - a living room where each item carries a variety of meanings.

Ruby Wallis's large photographs, A Woman Walks Alone at Night, With a Camera, is an ongoing performative work reclaiming traditionally male times in urban spaces (ie, the night).

I was happy to see Kathy Prendergast's work, Waiting 1980, taken out of storage for this exhibition. I remember it being displayed in the foyer of Hugh Lane for many years and noticed when suddenly it wasn't there.

Over the past few years of the pandemic I have become aware of the collective Na Cailleacha so was was glad of the chance to see some of their work in person (as opposed to online). The "witches" are a group of aging women artists, some of whom I had been aware of already as individual artists.

The collective still work individually but engage with more force as a group. The group consists of Helen Comerford, Barbara Freeman, Patricia Hurl, Catherine Marshall, Carole Nelson, Rachel Perry, Gerda Teljeur and Therry Rudin. Most of these women are visual artists but Marshall is a writer/curator and Nelson is a musician and composer. I imagine this group has fabulous conversations about art, life, women's issues and just about anything -- I would love to be a fly on the wall at one of their get togethers!

Other artists whose work is included in this exhibition, which I have not had a chance to discuss here, are Amanda Doran, Myrid Carten, Dorothy Cross and Alice Maher. All of the work is deserving of further dialogue, which to me was the point of this fabulous exhibition!

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Happy Hallowe'en!

Hallowe'en seems to have come around very quickly! Over the past couple of months I realised there was still a few bags of pumpkin mush in the freezer that I needed to use up before creating new mush for the next year of pumpkin pies and pumpkin muffins. Too late I also realised I had never posted pictures or my recipe for pumpkin pie -- I'll try to remember to document the next time I am baking (it is very delicious!). In the meantime, the pumpkins were carved the day before Hallowe'en while listening to spooky music and that meant the biproduct of carving - seeds - needed roasting. In case you are not aware of how delicious these seeds are to snack on, follow the link here for my post from 2016. 

These are the two pumpkins that were carved in my house! They'll be turned into mush for the freezer in a couple of days. I gave full details of that process in a post from 2020 here.

Meanwhile, many houses are decorated for this spooky season. I was walking around one of the neighbourhoods locally and saw a few houses decked out quite well.

Cobwebs on bushes, spiders, ghosts, witches and pumpkins are all part of the fun.

Oh yes, and lots of scary skulls! By the way, the pumpkin muffins are good for other occasions too -xmas, Valentine's Day, Paddy's Day or even as a birthday cake - it's all in the decoration. Here is this very versatile recipe. Happy Hallowe'en!

Wednesday, 26 October 2022

The Tower at Rua Red

I was so excited a few months ago when a friend told me the Jesse Jones exhibition, “The Tower”, at Rua Red gallery in Tallaght was a continuation of her exhibition “Tremble Tremble”, which had been Ireland’s entry to the Venice Biennale in 2017. While I did not get to see that exhibition in Venice, I did see it a few times when it was shown again in Ireland the following year. I wrote about it here and I also wrote about the "in conversation" evening between Jesse Jones and Olwen Fouéré here

As in 2018, I was stunned and amazed by Jones’s monumental multi-disciplinary work involving collaborations in film, dance, sculpture and performance. Wow! As I stayed for the duration of several performances I ended up with two “milagros” (hope/healing/spiritual charms), which I cherish.  

I was thrilled to learn that there will be a third installation in this amazing series of artworks from Jones. I lifted the last two photos from the Rua Red website and publicity (with apologies as I could not find the photo credits) because I wanted to give a sense of the magnitude of “The Tower”, which is a totally indescribable work, and I most certainly did not want to take photographs during this incredible performance event.

Wednesday, 19 October 2022

Limerick City Gallery of Art

The end of August seems an eon ago, but I never had a chance to talk about the rest of my visit to Limerick City Gallery of Art, which I had gone to specifically to see the Pulse exhibition, which I blogged about here. Works on paper from the permanent collection were on display on the first floor.

It was a delight to see some work by Evie Hone. I am not sure where LCAG stores their permanent collection, but the exhibitions seem to be different whenever I visit.

I realised I could not take any individual shots of work due to reflections on the glass, but it was really great examining both historic and contemporary work in the collection.

Upstairs more work from the permanent collection was exhibited.

Again, reflective glass did not make for individual photos, but my pictures give a sense of space in the galleries.

Since Tom Ryan's painting on ceramic tiles was not behind additional glass, it was easier to photograph. Plus I like cows and paintings of cows. And ceramics. And cows.

In a smaller gallery upstairs was the temporary photographic exhibition by Croatian artist, Dea Botica, which celebrates island life.

On the exterior walls of this former Carnegie building, were miniature bronze action characters.

Unfortunately this artwork is uncredited and none of the LCAG staff could shed any light on my desire to get the name of the artist who created these works.

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

Citizens? at Rathfarnham Castle

A few weeks ago I was at the launch of "Citizens?" at the wonderful Rathfarnham Castle. This two-person exhibition examines and responds to notions of citizenship, home and identity. It is a show of work by Syrian painter Manar Al Shouha, who is an asylum seeker living in Dublin and artist Belinda Loftus, who is a descendant of Adam Loftus the Elizabethan commissioner of the castle, which became his family home.

Al Shouha's gorgeous paintings are exhibited in the large Dining Room. Unfortunately my photos do not give justice to the amazing paintings but only give an idea of scale and how they are exibited in the space.

Thin layers of oil painting and fine draughtsmanship in the charcoal drawing on canvas render the images ghostly and exquisite. I was reminded of the incredible work of early 20th century Austrian painter Egon Schiele, whose drawing skills I previously have tended to consider unmatched.

Loftus's work was exhibited in The Saloon and The Pistol Loop Room. Her work could be considered more experimental, as she worked in a variety of media and styles, ranging from conceptual to faux naif. However, it did not have the impact on me that Al Shouha's work did.

The exhibition continues till October 23 and is well worth visiting.