Wednesday 23 February 2022

exhibition launch

Last Thursday evening the launch of Memory Is My Homeland took place at Rathfarnham Castle. I had been given the go-ahead to send out invites for a cautious launch as covid restrictions had been lifted only a few weeks beforehand. So it was with some delight that I was able to approach the Castle at dusk.

The  exhibition was officially launched by the Canadian Ambassador, Her Excellency Ms Nancy Smyth (left), with introductory words from Ms Ellen Brickley (right) from the OPW National Historic Properties.

As it has been only a few weeks since covid restrictions have eased, the launch itself was cautious and everyone kept to safety guidelines (social distancing and mask-wearing).

There was a pretty reasonable turnout of guests as people are learning to socialise again! There was wonderful catering (canap├ęs and wine) so of course people could remove masks when eating & drinking, and there was seating scattered in the various rooms so that there were opportunities for people to relax and chat.

I was available to discuss my work with both the Ambassador and Ms Brickley.

Of course, I had some opportunities to greet my friends and guests. This picture encapsulates my main reason for wanting to exhibit at Rathfarnham Castle: the historic walls and gorgeous architecture of the venue!

In the Saloon the painting details on the ceiling reflect the period of time in the early 20th century when the castle was owned by the Jesuits.

The Pistol Loop Room provided an intimate space for my linoprints on handmade silk fibre sheets.

There were three false walls, at angles to each other, which provided the surface on which to hang my unique prints.

Back in the large Dining Room, I had a photo opportunity with the Ambassador and my painting, Kingston Road: Waiting.

Wednesday 16 February 2022

exhibition install day!

A busy start to the week for me, as my exhibition Memory Is My Homeland  opens to the public on Wednesday (Feb 16). The Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, Her Excellency Ms Nancy Smyth is launching the exhibition on Thursday evening. It will be the first launch that Rathfarnham Castle has had over the past two years (because of covid) and will be a small affair, but celebratory. So on Sunday evening everything was wrapped and packed into the car for an early start the next day.

Rathfarnham Castle is an Elizabethan era fortified home 

surrounded by a pleasant park. Although the skies were grey, I was glad that there was no rain to be seen, especially while we unpacked the car.

The false walls had been freshly painted and most were already dry, so work could begin immediately.

As the walls in the dining room weren't completely dry, we started in the saloon.

I was expecting just one other person to assist my husband and I in the hanging, but a fabulous team of OPW carpenters and electricians arrived to carry out the work.

I simply had to place the work where it was be to be hung and talk to the carpenters about placement height and space between works.  Once the work was hung, the electrician adjusted the lighting to my specifications and the painter touched up any areas that had pencil marks.

Everything was done before lunch! Before we left we checked out one of the exhibition signs that had been hung up on the fence between the castle and the carpark. For further information and pictures related to this body of work, do a search on this blog for Memory Is My Homeland.

Wednesday 9 February 2022

Pearse medal

 I was at the lovely Pearse Museum again last year, specifically to see an art exhibition from the OPW Collection (which I blogged about here), but it is always nice to have a gander around the museum itself, which is dedicated to the Irish hero. The museum is situated in the boys' school that Patrick Pearse founded early last century at St Enda's Park (a gorgeous park to wander around). Seeing the image plaque again reminded me that I knew there was an error of some sort in the commemorative medal that I had at home, which had been given to me when my Mum died a few years ago.

When I got home I had a good look at the medal, which was commemorating Pearse having been born 100 years previously.

On the reverse side of the coin is an excerpt from the speech Pearse made at the graveside of O'Donovan Rossa in 1915, which is credited to being seminal to the Easter Uprising the following year. A member of the language police that I am, I spotted the spelling error on this commemorative medal. "Finian" is a boy's name, in his speech Pearse referred to the "Fenian" dead. Fenian refers to the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), the secret political organisation of the late 19th-early 20th century that was dedicated to the establishment of an independant Ireland. I wonder how many of these medals were made for the commemoration and if anyone else is a trainspotter?

Wednesday 2 February 2022

In Trust. In Gratitude. In Hope. Group exhibition at Arthouse, Stradbally

 I did a road trip recently to check out the exhibition In Trust. In Gratitude. In Hope. in Stradbally, Co Laois. The exhibition was organised by Laois Arts Office and curated by Monica Flynn to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Stradbally's Arthouse Gallery. Over sixty artists were asked to respond to Pat Boran's commissioned poem The Window Seat. As my husband, James Hayes, had been commissioned ten years ago to create the sculptural wall piece, Growth, when the gallery was being built, he was invited to take part in the exhibition. Growth, a stainless steel work, can be seen to the left in the picture below; it is in the courtyard entrance to the gallery.

Within the small, but very elegant, gallery James's bronze sculpture, Faith, can be seen with Growth outside the window.

The artists were asked to respond in any way to Pat Boran's poem but there was a size limit on both 2D & 3D works. Artists working in 2D were provided with a square canvas. There is a screening room within the complex (which also includes studio spaces and units to accommodate a live-in artist-in-residency programme) and there were also two video pieces included in the exhibition.

The other artists who were invited to take part had all been involved with Arthouse over the ten years of its existence, most through the residency programme.

The works were as diverse as the individual artists, but the show was cohesive through the ideas of response to the poem and through the size constraints.

The main gallery is quite small but the space is augmented by the running wall immediately outside it, which leads to the screening room. This corridor is very bright and in no way secondary, with full length windows opposite the running wall. The exhibition continues till March 25th 2022.