In connection with the Festival Of Food in Dungarvan, the art galleries have put some fine exhibitions on display, and in these difficult times, when curbacks seriously affect staffing levels at some venues, there is still an air of positivity in evidence. Or are creative people less pessimistic than others.
There was a glorious sense of spring on Helvick and the Joan Clancy Gallery was warm and welcoming, set as it is in a visually satisfying landscape. Her Easca, Easter Group Show, has a fine cross-section with pride of place in my mind going to new work by Rayleen Clancy. With modern airport and flying imagery, DEPARTURE and ARRIVAL are fine brown studies. In Leaving Winter, you get a bird in a bleak snowscape and ICE MELT RETREAT has dark green puddles of colour with shapes and solids merging into circular egg or ova images; a symbol of new birth, or re-birth. John Cullinan keeps the egg/ovum imagery with a darker toned White Light of a still-life of red flowers, green leaves in a dark pot, with two brilliant white orbs in the foreground.
Blawnin Clancy has a beautiful OLD PARISH WOODLAND, where purple light suffuses the imagery. Of new interest is work by Ross Stewart, who was Art Director on the beautiful The Secret Of Kells.
Old Market House
There is a themed connection with food at the Old Market House Art Gallery7 where Assumpta Nugent is doing brilliant work with little or no physical support. Upstairs in Seomra De Paor, the Sculptural Ceramic work of Martha Cashman is one of the most beautiful fine art exhibitions I have seen in a while. Featuring delicate spoon shapes and imagery, there is a wealth of stimuli with spoons arranged like dancers, like statues, like family groups, like lovers and like lost petals of memory Fergus Lyons.
The downstairs area is taken up with over sixty canvases by Portlaw-born artist, Fergus Lyons and his wildly imaginative Chimera, Red Woman And Finn, that compresses several of the Fionn Mac Cumhail legends from the old Fianna Cycle of the powerful Red Haired Woman and the elusive shape-changer of destiny. The imagery is exciting, with strange creatures like Mac Dathos Pig, The Ullpevste and famous feast of mythology at Knocknaree, where Yeats said the Fairy hosts gathered in wild celebration and feasting from the Cup Of Plenty and the Bowl Of Bounty.
It took me a while to find the badly signposted exhibition at the Monksland Church in Knockmahon, above the strand in Bonmahon, where the Copper Coast Geopark are establishing a centre. It still has a cement and dust feel to it but I enjoyed photography by John Pelham, Richard Cutbill and Eddie McCarthy.
Jackie Elger has some beautiful photostudies of the area and she has collaborated with an illustrated book of poems by Kill poet, Tom Power. I loved Blue Moon by Rosemary O’Donoghue and Autumn Fields by Christoir O Crotaigh.
High point of the Bonmahon visit was the display of reproductions of work by New Zealand artist, Edith Collier, who came to spend a glorious summer in Bonmahon in 1914/15. Her work has achieved fame in New Zealand and a researcher came to Co. Waterford to seek out the locations depicted in her work.