Wednesday, 21 September 2022

PULSE at Limerick City Gallery of Art

Though it seems ages away now, on the way home from The Burren (which I blogged about here) at the end of August, we took the route that would lead us to Limerick as I especially wanted to see the PULSE exhibition at Limerick City Gallery of Art. This was organised as a covid response to the fact that recent graduates (2017-2021) of art colleges had missed out on opportunities for end-of-year exhibitions and/or other exhibiting opportunities that normally follow graduation. There were 16 artists in total, most getting space to show a few pieces of their work.

The artists are: Paul Cashin, Paddy Critchley, Judy Foley, Shane Hynan, Aisling Jelinski, Grace Loughlin, Day Magee, Sinéad McKillican, Katie Moore, Daniel Murray, Andrew Neville, Jonathan O'Grady, Bara Palcik, Sorcha Frances Ryder, Niamh Schmidtke and Nicola Sheehan. *Apologies to any artist whose work is in my pictures below - justice has definitely not been done - my pictures are simply to give an idea of the scope of the exhibition.

The exhibition took up most rooms on the ground floor of the gallery. After entering the gallery, where work was visible the foyer walls, taking a right turn I ended up in two adjoining smaller spaces. In this picture the main entrance is visible with some of the photos from the foyer as well as work of Grace Loughlin in this small room.

Judy Foley's two wall-mounted icon pieces and the tableaux installation to mend an aorta (which won an Irish Research Council Award) were also in this gallery. 

In an adjoining area of this room was Kate Moore's Entropy, an installation of dried gypsophilia flowers.

Several artists with large works were located in a large gallery space. 

I realise I lost the sheet that connected the artists names with their work. There were also several video artists represented in the exhibition, but I could not photograph a screen to give any sense of the work. 

Another large gallery contained the work of two artists, each having space to present mini bodies of work.

These are paintings by Paddy Critchley.

I think the show seemed like a graduate group show, but there was a high level of competence. It was exciting to see most art forms being represented: sculpture, painting, photography, video and installation art. The artists were chosen by Patrick T Murphy (Director, RHA) and artist Aideen Barry.

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

The Burren

The last Saturday in August saw me head to Clare for the Furnace Festival at Caherconnell Fort. It was a hot summery day for watchers, but especially hot for the iron smelters and blacksmiths! 

As a specific experiment was being tested, all the furnaces were of the same type and generally the same proportions, but the smelters individualised there furnaces with kaolin designs, such as the Sheela-na-gig design on the foreground furnace. The smelters were particularly happy with the quantity and quality of ore smelted from the midland bogs.

The site of Caherconnell Fort gave the blacksmiths the specific project of reproducing some of the archaelogical finds from there (an iron belt buckle, arrow heads and a sickle). Caherconnell is a stone fort, of the kind found in abundance in the West, though I was disappointed in the contemporary interferences (numbers corresponding to a self-guided tour booklet, ropes blocking off areas, etc), which I thought marred the site and lowered this fort in my esteem when compared to other stone forts that I have come across, especially when I lived in Kerry. (So I was hardpressed to take a photo of the fort.)

A drive through The Burren always makes me think of what it must be like on the moon. Except the land is NOT barren, it can only be described as unique.

The Burren is an area of exposed limestone, with very little topsoil, but the "grykes" - the fissure area between "clints" (flat, exposed rocky areas) - protect soil and allow plants to grow as well as small wildlife (I have seen an abundance of frogs there in the spring). For further information on The Burren check out the national park website here.

Of course, a visit to The Burren necessates a visit to the iconic Poulnabrone Dolmen. Lucky for me I had a chance to walk around it before the FIVE tour buses unloaded their curious cargo!

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Gatineau - outdoor artworks part 3 of 3

At the end of July, when I was in Canada again, I strolled the downtown area of Gatineau (this area was formerly known as Hull) on Le sentier culturel to see outdoor sculptures, murals and artistic interventions. This is my third post about the cultural trail and my previous posts may be seen here and here.

“Mères au front” and “Flȃneries” were two pieces that worked together in the single space of an otherwise disused and overgrown lot 

Each artwork had a nearby didactic in both French and English, which gave the title of the work, artist's name and link (if applicable) as well as a brief explanation of the work.

Often on the nearby footpath a colourful marker acted as a reminder of the nearby artwork. I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of vandalism along the trail. Small perspex/plexiglass holders containing free colour brochures that included a trail map could be found near every artwork.

The colourful abstract mural on this building was certainly eye-catching!

I was especially drawn to the painted corner bricks.

I wasn't particularly impressed by the mural on the side of this container building, but I was again impressed by the lack of vandalism! The container had an end entrance that lead to a mini cinema where a video was playing on a loop. One could sit down and watch the video or simply take a peep.

A short walk to the edge of the canal brought me to another sculpture and works that could be seen across the water.

Although this picture shows another artwork across the canal, I was more interested in the reflections and the architecture...

There were many murals along the trail, but this one, by Dominic Laporte, was my favourite. It was painted as a tribute to the historic textile industry of Hull (downtown Gatineau) and the women textile workers.

As well as being an explosion of colour, what I especially liked was that from a distance the mural appeared to be tightly painted, yet from a closeup point of view the solidity seemed to disintegrate (as with the ethereal loom) and

the painting technique was incredibly loose as colours dripped into each other. Further information on the art trail and the artists involved can be found on Le sentier culturel website.

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Gatineau - outdoor artworks part 2 of 3

While I was in Canada in July, the last leg of my trip was in Ottawa. I spent a day walking Le sentier culturel (the culture path) in Gatineau across the river and I saw so much artwork that I figured I had to devote several blog posts to it; this is the second and the first is here.

This mural was designed by José Guénette as a reminder that the area has a history of being ravaged by fires, but also a reminder of the major (past) employer of the area, the EB Eddy Match Co. The children - of any time - act as witnesses to the events of any era. These particular children could easily represent children of employees from a century ago or children now.

Place Aubry is a small pedestrian area in the middle of the downtown core. Walking in from the street I was drawn to the faux fountain where various colourful animals appeared to be drinking.

 M Chadid's Havre de paix provided a colourful comment in three dimensions wondering if even predators can live together in peace with their prey.

I could hardly miss the flock of butterflies soaring in the space between the buildings!

Samuelle Desjardins' Des ailes pour notre région (Wings for our region) took flight overhead!

A short block away there were several more murals. The jazzy covering of a complete building is a celebration of this area’s past as “Little Chicago” (though according to Wikipedia this is due to crime in the area around the time of Prohibition). 

This past is brought to life by Philippe Landry and Marin Mitrasinovic.  

Although this building mural was also lively and colourful (and next door to the other one!) it was NOT part of the cultural trail so I do not know who the artists were.

Kitty corner to this was Mitrasinovic’s solo mural, “Pop 60”, to my eyes interesting but not as rich or lively as the jazzy one she did with Landry.

Wednesday, 24 August 2022

Gatineau - outdoor artworks part 1 of 3

While in Ottawa at the end of July, my sister-in-law drove me to nearby Gatineau (PQ) to have a look at “Le Sentier Culturel”, i.e. The Cultural Trail. The artworks were mapped around the centre of the town and one simply had to walk around to have a look at the outdoor work. It was a lovely day – a bit overcast and not as hot as other days, so it was perfect for walking about. At most spots on the trail, there was a little display box of brochures that gave information about each stop along the way. Although I had looked at the website the night before, it was handy to have the brochure with me as I walked through the streets.

After parking the car, the first work we came across was number 8 on the list, Bordalo II's One man's trash is another man's treasure. This huge and colourful wall sculpture - if it was on a smaller scale I might have called it a collage! - was made entirely from repurposed garbage.

Across the road from this sculpture was a civic square and several works on the trail were found here. The colourful entrance to the square was NOT part of the trail but is an indication of the vibrant sensibility of Gatineau. Please note that the appearance of a deserted city is due to this being a business area and not only was it Saturday, but it was a long weekend when I visited! 

This playful mural on the side of one of the buildings was also not part of the trail, just another indication of Gatineau's sensibility.

I was delighted to see this work in the flesh - from one of the pictures on the website, I had already picked Mathieu Fecteau's sculpture of boats as my favourite work on the trail. Je t'appelerai bateau-feu bateau-lumière (the title - I shall call you fireboat lightboat) was excerpted from a 2018 poem by Agnès Riverin.

 I love the way the sculpture references paper boats from childhood and I love them appearing as if stained glass. I also loved the way the bright colours of the boats reflected in the glass of surrounding buildings and in the rippling water of the fountain pool.

I am not sure of the materials used - being in the middle of a fountain, I could not get a close-up look!

From a distance I could see what looked like a pair of binoculars, but it was the sculptural element of a sound piece that was unfortunately broken on my visit. The large white bone-like sculpture was an artwork that was not part of the cultural trail. When I got a closer view of it the white did not seem so luminous. In fact, this work from the 1970s was in need of a bit of TLC as the paint was peeling and it looked like a few repair jobs had been haphazardly carried out over its lifetime.

I was curious about this bright little pavilion, but did not see a reference to its maker/designer in the brochure. 

The brochure describes Espace sensible as a series of exhibitions commissioned by Artch, an organisation that is specifically interested in the work of emerging curators and artists. 

While I was there, there was work by several artists but there was no indication of how long this work would be available for viewing or what the next exhibit would be. 

I was most curious about the pavilion itself, rather than the work displayed within it.

In any case, it was great to be able to walk around and enjoy the outdoor works. There is more to come, as I took lots of photos, so this will be my topic for the next few weeks (two more blog posts)

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Patrick MacAllister at The Mermaid

I realised last week that Pat MacAllister's exhibition, "Peering Out", was going to close soon, so I hightailed it over to The Mermaid Arts Centre here in Bray to have a look. I had covid when the exhibition was launched so could not attend, though it would have been nice to see Pat as I hadn't seen him in years. As well as an exhibition of work, I am also always interested to see how a body of work is laid out in a particular space - there seems be a unique solution applied to different exhibitions. At the Mermaid, the gallery is usually accessed by a stairwell (there is a disability elevator available) from the main floor lobby.

I was attracted to the black and white images that faced me as I came up the stairs. It has been many years since I have seen Pat's work, which I remember as colourful and non-objective so I was also surprised at what seemed to me as figuration popping from the black and white canvases.

Indeed, it wasn't just the impasto playing with my perception - there definitely were a crowd of people (albeit loosely painted) expressionistically depicted in this painting. 

This work entitled "Lockout 2", from 2018, had an explanatory didactic next to it and the viewer got a sense, through paint, of the historical industrial dispute in Dublin in 1913. 

Although the pieces that I first came across in the gallery were probably just as interesting to view, I made a bee-line for the larger paintings, which drew me to them through the extra wall that seemed to contain them in a way that made them special.

Likewise, the small room to the side and back was attractive because it had been painted a dark grey unlike the white of the rest of the gallery.

The pieces here were smaller than the other ones in the gallery but they suited this intimate environment and they had a "large" impact.

This was one of my favourite pieces in the show. The work itself is reminiscent of a map in my mind, with representations of game markers, yet it depicts no known map and no specific game. I look at it as a totally non-objective painting but it doesn't bring me back to Pat's old work that I remember. On the contrary, I see it as a move forward for his style.