COMING HOME

‘Coming Home’ is the name of a special, and I would say, a poignant exhibition which has been running all summer in the Art Centre in Skibbereen town.  It aims to commemorate and indeed give value and respect to all the many Irish who died during one of the biggest calamities that hit this land.  ‘The Great Hunger’ (1845-52) it has been called, and it was a famine that was unprecedented in its destruction, indeed it was the worst demographic catastrophe of nineteenth century Europe.  Several million people died or were transported to Australia or Canada, or emigrated to a variety of countries.  There is so much history behind this present exhibition, and the talks, lectures and performances that have been laid on as part of this exhibition.  How moving this has been, and how healthy – not to dwell on the past to remember it with bitterness, but to appreciate and respect those that suffered during that period in Irish history.  Myself as a foreigner I never realised what an effect this famine has had on the present Irish generations, but in a way it has, and that is why it has been so good to bring the hurt and hidden sadness’s from generations past into the open, and to look at this on a nationwide basis.  People are then able to let it go, and to have renewed energy and I think that is what will happen.  This exhibition brought people back from many countries to experience, up to a point, what it would have been for their ancestors.  I went to it early in the summer, and though I am not a very emotional person, I am very sensitive and I could literally feel the emotions around me, I was very moved, but also very happy as it felt like a cleansing for the people who are the survivors and perhaps are living with memories from ancestors that faced starvation, and or, the coffin ships to travel to far off countries in order to survive.

I was speechless walking out of the Art Centre that day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would like to dedicate this blog post to my friend Rowena, who is a survivor of ancestors that suffered the workhouse in Ireland, and were transported to Australia.

EDGE OF LANDSCAPE – WILLIAM CROZIER

Skibbereen town is currently running its yearly Arts Festival and the town is buzzing with people, whole families, and lots of children – what a nice atmosphere I found today down town. I went to see William Crozier’s exhibition ‘Edge of Landscape’ in our Uillinn Art Centre, which by the way puts on lots of interesting exhibitions and other activities very regularly. There was a guided tour and I thought it would be nice to know a bit more about Crozier’s work, though I know his paintings for a long time as he was living locally. The tour took us through some earlier works and also showed us some of the most recent before his death. I was impressed with his lines and colours, with his painting of West Cork as he saw it – though he painted from memory. He painted the landscape as it relates to people, as it was created by the people, so you have what one might recognise as hay stacks and fields with borders, always borders. In a lot of his work, of a certain period, he painted high horizons, again this creating a border around his fields.
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Painting on the right is ‘The Ripe Field’ 1990

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Painting above is ‘Wolf’s Castle, Toe Head, 1998

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Above are some of his earlier works, on the right is a painting called ‘Winged Figure’ which he painted in the early seventies.  He stopped using figures in his paintings though he had used them a lot in much of his earlier work before he came to West Cork. Personally I find his work which include figures much harder to look at and make sense of.

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The painting above and below are much later work before he died, I love the simplicity of these and I agree with what one of the visitors said, that they reminded her a little of Matisse.  We were told that Crozier was indeed influenced by Matisse, a thought that I liked.

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I’ve always loved visiting art exhibitions. I discovered the value of this in my late teens when I used to go look at paintings in galleries both in Antwerp and in Dublin and was impressed with the energy that would affect me coming from the works, such a difference from looking at a reproduction or print. I was going to Art college at night in those days and I guess that urge to go see paintings never left me since. Luckily Skibbereen town has a thriving Art Centre and other galleries besides. West Cork is a real haven for artists and people who love art. I feel so lucky.

DELIGHTS OF ART AND YOUNG MINDS

Last week there was the yearly Art Festival in our town of Skibbereen. It is getting better every year, and what nicer way to explore it than with my two growing grandchildren, who are little artists in their own way, and they take an intelligent interest in art.

So we set off on our exploration of some of the exhibitions, and there were many, they were held all over the town. We did not strictly stick to the Art Trail, we started off at the Uillinn Art Centre where we wanted to see the work of John Kelly. There were his beautiful landscapes, which were scrutinised by our young artists, including technique and paint finishes.  Our main interest though was Kelly’s group of paintings which he produced during his stay in Antarctica, and on his way there in 2013. The wall was covered with these works, large and small, the whole collection told us his story of that journey, and the girls were quite impressed. I wanted them to take away this idea of telling a story in a collection of small paintings. Later in the day we were going to get paints and boards to try our hands on this idea.
Some of Kelly’s other works did get some comments, even some raised eyebrows.
The paintings in Catherine Hammond’s Gallery got much approval, and favourites were picked, this exhibition was called ‘Contemporary Realism’. A little Gallery further along in Bridge Street was really interesting, at least for me it was, and the girls took it in their stride too. Vauney Strahan’s works were an education for me and I had to look her up on Google, I do like her art very much, here is a link to her profile; http://www.saatchiart.com/vauneystrahan
Least interesting to the young minds was the Old Bottling Plant where we saw works by Angela Flowers, though some of Angela’s works were fabulous.  And the exhibition by Paul Cialis, ‘Saints and Sinners’ did not even get a look into, which was just as well, because it was a little beyond their age group.

We were all three getting tired, taking in a lot of visual stimulation can use up energy fast! So we just popped into one last exhibit, a re-creation of a shop of the early twentieth century, the girls loved it, they were looking all over it. It showed them a example of shopping before the supermarkets started.

We went home after buying the art materials, and we started to paint, after a pizza meal, and lots of banter with Ian. Both grandchildren gave a very individual interpretation to what they saw during the day; my 9 year old painted a beautiful image of a horse, incorporating colours and combinations she noticed today, and my 8 year old painted an ice scene with penguins after John Kelly’s paintings.  It is very nice to be able to share the love of art with my grandchildren, and lovely to see young minds at work, and hearing their opinions on what they observe.


Paintings also exhibited were by Karen Billings, and earlier on in the week I attended an excellent event called ‘Dark Matter’, Greg Sholette in conversation with Katherine Waugh. The topic was ‘What’s missing in art and politics in an enterprise culture’. Enjoyed a lot.


The Souvenir Shop


Works by the two girls