Waterford City Council, through its Arts Office, put a lot of effort and investment into its Summer City programme. So, at the repeated invitation of Conor Nolan, a genial and very busy Arts Officer, I decided last Saturday to sample the delights on a bit of an arts trail.
Started with the Stalls outside Sam McAuley’s where those three steel erections were in full colour sail and among the bread, gifts, vegetables and crepes, I came upon the exciting silver and copper designs of Ken and Claire Coleman of Stradbally Jewellery Design; beautifully crafted work and affordable prices.
On to the City Library who advertise Amateur Scriptwriters’ Seminars with Alan Cliff in association with PushPull Productions and a Manga Circle aims to sketch or comic artists who like Japanese Anime or Manga illustrations.
In the Library, Laura Fitzgerald, has a memory series on the drawings on paper, Once Upon A Time, where she notates peoples’ memories into detailed fine drawings. A series of five-sided columns features landsurvey maps creating a sense of place – where we all start from – home is a spot on a map.
Once again Christ Church Cathedral has a hit with More Wedding Bells from the Annie Brophy collection. These black and white prints are a joy and I loved Jim Quinn in military dress for his wedding to a beautiful Kitty O’Neill in 1945. The late Jim set up Marchant Quinn in Bilberry that later went on to be Raytex.
There was the photographer of ace snapper Joe McGrath with a rock and roll quiff as he married Breda Egan in 1963. His brother, the legendary panto character, Roger looked resplendent too. But the happiest couple must be Des Hodge of this newspaper as he wed Lucy Rea in 1972. Their fine son, John, married me darling daughter, Neva, in Las Vegas some years ago. Des and Lucy never lost that radiant happiness.
Soma, is the contemporary art box – a gallery without frills in the old Sheridan garage building. Two artists are featured, Conrado De Vela Velasco, a Philippine artist who has a quirky snapshot style with eyes, skulls and fluid creatures like in comic strips. In the black and dark grey back room, upstate New York artist, Jacquelyn O’Keeffe, has a series in black and white – A Place For Me And Kafka – and this work was fascinating and full of impact imagery. Velesco, who is in receipt of City Council funding for aspects of this show, did not want me to review his work.
An afternoon summer concert cum garden party at Fairbrook House was a special treat in the most beautiful gardens and romantic hideaways. Due to doubtful weather, the performance took place in the excellent gallery featuring the fascinating work of the late Wout Muller and Clary Mastenbroek.
The Scullion founder-member and renowned Uilleann piper Jimmy O’Brien Moran brought me to another place with exquisite playing, featuring work from Willie Clancy, Seamus Ennis and others. He sang a verse in English and Irish of the famous Waterford song, The Connerys. He evoked the folk memory of Niclas Toibin and then gave us the beautiful Waterford Waltz recorded by Tommy Keane.
He finished with two As I Roved Out favourites – A Master’s Return and Miss McClouds.
A long interval gave people time to sip Champagne, nibble on savouries and explore the garden where I got into a great chat with Ken Wigham and Lynn Cahill about the history of the Theatre Royal.
After such revels, we were treated to a glorious set of Portegese Fado music from Nuno Gligo (Portugese Viola that sounded like a bazouki or dulcimer), Elmar Gardes (Guitar) and the plaintive singing of Isabel Silva. I loved the sad nostalgia of The Shawl Of My Mother and the romantic The Hands Of My Love When He Gives Me Flowers, and a bittersweet song about the girl who had the key to the door of Life and never used it.
A musical concert in the Blackfriars new open air performance area had to be postponed due to uncertain weather and my Summer city tour ended prematurely.