Wishing all a happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a happy, prosperous and peaceful new year!

I hope 2020 will be a good year for all in Limerick and beyond. Though not without a number of low points, not to mention the loss of valued and loved friends and family members, there were also many positives.

Especial thanks to my Gallery Interlude Team Members – Isabella Walsh and (until November of this year) Ciaran Nash, and occasional hands Aidan Kelleher and Antrim Paul. The program was first class this year, and would have been impossible to do without your amazing contributions.

The Lucky Lane Team – Mark, Dave, Steve, Diarmuid, Lisa and Noah have been unbelievably generous since we began Interlude June 2018, providing the venue and logistics, and just plain helpfulness in the venture.

Kevin (Caoimhín) O’Keefe of The Bigger Picture for sponsoring us for well over a year – I think we may not have heard the last from him yet….

The Glen Tavern – Ger, Cathal, Toby and all sponsored us from last year until November this year – sincere thanks and we’ll be dropping in (real) soon.

Art Mad/Normoyle Frawley Framing for coming on board as sponsors – legends!

Rose Rushe of The Limerick Post has been most kind, not only covering our shows – but also highlighting our message and campaign for sustainable art spaces and outlets. A mention also for Séamus Ryan of The Limerick Leader of Things what are in Limerick column.

By no mean least in the list, go raibh míle míle to our exhibitors from Contact Studios this year, for showing and creating new works, and for having faith in us – it is what keeps us going. Thank you in no particular order (as I remember them) Seán Healy, Seán Lynch and Michele Horrigan, Julie Brazil, Ciarán O’Sullivan, Rory Prout, Declan Greene, Stephen Murphy and Joanna Hopkins.

I would also like to express my deep appreciation for Michele Horrigan and Seán Lynch of Askeaton Contemporary Arts for their continued work in supporting the arts in Limerick, not to mention their facilitation of my ongoing project in Desmond Castle. Kudos to the OPW lads on site for the same – and the tea!

A special thanks to Seán Guinan and Tom Prendergast – not to mention the members of – Wickham Street Studios.

Lastly, a huge thanks to the public – and indeed the Limerick City Gallery – for supporting us and Contact Studios in our continuing campaign for the arts in Limerick .

We will keep up the terrific and varied excellence of Contact Studios’ members into 2020, and hopefully we can see a real 2020 City of Culture emerge!

A House full of Flies – paintings by Stephen Murphy at Gallery Interlude, opens Friday December 13 7-9pm

Poster by Interlude member Isabella Walsh featuring ‘Faint’ by Stephen Murphy

For our 8th and final exhibition of 2019 we are delighted to put forth the works of the esteemed Stephen Murphy, a man who needs no introduction, but for the purposes of this post I will do anyway.

Steve joined our Contact Studios’ ranks a number of years ago, his paintings are much sought after and his work and teaching skills have earned him no small renown.

The paintings themselves – many of them made for this show – are quite exquisite in painterly terms and touch, and there is more than an element of surrealism and dark humour to be observed.

It is a great pleasure for us on the Interlude Team to host Steve, and we look forward to another cracking night of art and chat (if we can get a word in ;).

As our final attempt this year to kick-start and foster constructive debate, we will have copies available of the seemingly ‘mothballed’ Visual Arts Ecology Report from 2015, by John Holden. John was commissioned by the visual arts pillar from Limerick City of Culture to take stock of the Limerick ‘scene’ at the time, and provide perhaps a few pointers on what was good, bad etc.

Many of us are quite confused as to why it was never published – it is not overly critical, but it seems to me the longer it is left the less relevant it becomes.

My thanks for the support of my many fellow professionals and the LCGA also in this matter.

Slowing Down, paintings by Declan Greene at Gallery Interlude, Friday November 8-11th

Poster for the event by Gallery Interlude Team Member Ciaran Nash

Myself and the ‘Interlude Team are super excited to host the indomitable Declan Greene this week, with his exceptional suite of paintings on display in the Treaty City opening at 7pm this Friday.

I have waxed lyrical before on this site about my adventures going out painting in Doonass in Co. Clare with Declan, and indeed about his prowess and uber professionalism in documenting my own and others’ artworks.

Now, we finally get a chance to see his paintings and ideas in person.

‘Slowing Down’ will showcase a series of these plein-air works – effectively paintings that are made on the spot, along with more abstract musings which these previous works have inspired.

It’s an incisive and I think educational approach to our gallery format, displaying in a visual, but not overly literal way how the artistic process works – often meandering, and rarely linear.

Do feel free and welcome to attend what will be our penultimate show of 2019 – tá fáilte róibh!

Contact Studios : on the Road, group show in Friarsgate Theatre, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick November 2019

The sabháiste poster by Contact Studios’ and Gallery Interlude member Isabella Walsh, featuring work by Luci Lane.

We’re on the road again, with Contact Studios. This time willingly, of course, as we set sail for the extraordinary medieval walled town of Kilmallock in Co. Limerick.

Eight of us Contact Studios’ members (see poster above) will travel to Friarsgate Theatre for a consecutive year. We very much enjoyed our last exhibition in the venue (see previous post), and we have very much enjoyed working with Caoimhe Reidy and the most hospitable team.

Having just installed it earlier today with Nuala O’Sullivan, I have to say it is looking exceptionally good – even excluding my own work!

As a group of artists with a common ambition – to secure decent premises for artists to work in, in the city of Limerick, we share common values.

Though we are currently ‘on the road’ – as regards lacking premises, we continue to work towards a goal of establishing a new studio space – not just for ourselves, but for the city, and all potential practitioners that will come along, given the chance.

Do come along should you be in the general direction tomorrow evening – it’ll be great. Or sure if not, the show will continue for the month more or less.

Michele Horrigan and Seán Lynch at Gallery Interlude, Culture Night 2019 Friday September 20th 7-9pm (continues to Monday 23)

Another year, another Culture Night. Another year and event to print numerous brochures, t-shirts and balloons to inform the public that culture is intrinsic to, and of immense importance to Irish society , and just as importantly, to reassure everyone that those of us in the cultural sector are being ‘looked after’, much as a kind Aunt (or Granny!) might look after a stray.

What’s wrong with this picture? In my own, and many other practitioners’ opinions, practically everything.

Speaking in terms of my own adopted home of The Treaty City, the message rings hollow. With a population of circa 100,000 in the urban area, we have approximately 30 (!) studio spaces, no commercial gallery (bar our own Interlude) and despite numerous cultural strategies being funded and completed, we are yet to see a real effort to engage with artists/groups to conceive a way for our situation to progress.

It seems to me that this is a disservice to both practitioners and the public. Artists are denied a way to make a living and the opportunity to create and display work, while the public, who pay handsomely to both local and national government, are being shortchanged in the manner in which their hard earned taxes are being spent, by not having these funds being used in a constructive and fruitful manner.

So what do we as artists do in the face of this?

We do of course, host an exhibition on the night, and bring these questions to the fore.

ASK NOT WHAT CULTURE CAN DO FOR YOU, BUT WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR CULTURE, a new work by Contact stalworths Michele Horrigan and Seán Lynch may go some way to analysing and expressing the futility of spin and ‘appearances’ when approaching culture. As a starting point to the work they reference another Contact Studios’ Alumnus’ writings – ‘The Urban Site’ by Ramon Kassam.

The Interlude Team are very excited to see how the night goes, and we are delighted to see that once again, our one-shot format has helped to foster another creative vision to bring to our city.

As always, I will post an update of the night, and hope to see as many as possible there. I would sincerely like to add my thanks to our friends in Lucky Lane (and indeed sponsors The Glen Tavern and Artmad) for their support in bringing the best of independent and relevant visual art to Limerick.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh!

Desmond Castle visit August 15 2019

The Hellfire Club

Had a nice day (between showers and gusts) in Askeaton making some new drawings for my Stonebreakers project. I have concentrated my efforts before this mostly on the routines and tasks carried out by the masons, G.O.’s (General Operatives), scaffolders and carpenters on the actual Desond Castle site – now I am beginning the conclusion of sorts to the task.

Though there will remain an element of looking at the lads at work, and trying to educate myself in their work, my aim now is to work from mainly outside, capturing how the site is viewed (visible) from around the town of Askeaton itself.

The Gate Lodge

The 2 drawings above were from across the Diver Deel behind the Civic Trust, and thankfully are relatively successful drawings to begin a new A3 sketchbook. Hopefully we will have a locational sense of all the components that make up the site by the end.

Old habits die hard though, and I did manage to make a brief gestural drawing of Billy, site foreman, digging to check what kind of foundations underpin the Gate Lodge.

Hope he digs it!

Through my eyes, by Ciarán O’Sullivan at Gallery Interlude, August 9

Another sabháiste poster for Ciarán’s show by Interlude member Ciaran Nash

For our 5th show of 2019 we were absolutely delighted to host Contact Studios’ Alumnus Ciarán O’Sullivan. I have the honour of knowing Ciarán since we both joined 2nd year Painting in Limerick School of Art, in the old Bruce House building, graduating in 1998.

As can be seen from the poster above, Ciarán’s work distinctively crosses, re-crosses and ultimately dissolves the lines between abstraction and representation. I noted on the night how his work developed from a hard style of Abstract Expressionism back then to his more recent (last 10 years or so) works which have combined this with portraiture of family and friends, images captured at unguarded/candid moments.

(l-r) Ciarán O’Sullivan (artist), Carl Doran (Gallery Interlude), Mark Sheehan (Lucky Lane).

Many years ago we used to live opposite Mark Sheehan of Lucky Lane, our hosts and patrons for our Interlude project, and have been great friends since then, and there was great sport (see above image!) at the opening. There was a fantastic turnout, and myself, Isabella Walsh and Ciaran Nash of the ‘Lude team were thoroughly satisfied with the reception for the work, and indeed another creative use of our ‘one – shot’ exhibition format.

Busy busy busy photo courtesy Ciaran Nash

We also would like to welcome new sponsors Art Mad/Normoyle &Frawley Framing, who are generously giving purchasers of works from our shows 15% off framing services.

Our thanks as always to all in Lucky Lane, The Glen Tavern and Art Mad, and of course to the daoine uaisle who attended – go raibh míle míle!

Next up, Seán Lynch and Michele Horrigan on Culture Night September 20th – expect some cages to be rattled!

Scratch by Seán Healy at Gallery Interlude, June 28 2019

Poster by GI team member Ciaran Nash for 'Scratch'
Poster by GI team member Ciaran Nash for ‘Scratch’

Marking a year and a week to the day to the first ‘Interlude show, the team were delighted to host another unique show, composed of Painterly Interventions, artist made scratch-cards, a brand new website created for the show, and an opportunity for members of the public (and our team!), to try out Letterpress printmaking.

Opening night 'Scratch'
Opening night ‘Scratch’

The artist in question was none other than Seán ‘Rusty’ Healy, who in his own words at the opening, stressed he was down in Limerick to support us, the arts community, and the Limerick community at large.

The Letterpress printing had been in the pipeline for some time, with a fact finding visit/tutorial by ‘Interlude member Isabella Walsh, who also officiated on the night in that capacity. It was most enjoyable, and educational, and with each donation to the project, patrons also received a limited edition scratchcard featuring Royal heads over Treaty city landmarks – sabháiste!

Back – mischievous Interlude member Isabella Walsh and Askeaton Contemporary Michele Horrigan, Front Seán Healy

Our sincere thanks to Seán, Lucky Lane, The Glen Tavern and also to The Bigger Picture’s Kevin O’Keefe for his sponsorship over the last year, which  unfortunately will be the last time in his case.

And of course go raibh míle míle to the public for your continued support!

We will return August 9th for a show by Louth’s finest, Ciarán O’Sullivan.

June 2019 visit to Desmond Castle, Askeaton as part of The Stonebreakers Project

June 2019

A pair of Peregrine Falcons have been scanning the castle for the last number of years for a safe and suitable nesting site, according to Foreman Billy Foley. From quite a distance below I tried to capture the (substantially smaller) male, keeping a keen eye on the chicks. A little later the female returned, amid the ‘squeaky wheel’ call. They are welcome visitors!

Site works

The work continues on site, be it maintenance with DJ keeping the lawns manicured, and Billy showing the wood/timber expert around, assessing how solid and safe these aspects are all round the complex.

Desmond Gate Lodge
Desmond Gate Lodge

It was a real treat to see inside the Gate Lodge – the building displays characteristics from many building periods, and the river Deel flows right under its floorboards!

A great and enjoyable day of chat, learning and drawing!

KFest Screaming Pope Prize, Killorglin, Co. Kerry 2019 – updated

Sreaming Pope Prize Ceremony 2019
Screaming Pope Prize Ceremony 2019

What a way to end the weekend at KFest! Above, a bad photo from the immense crowd attending the wrap up/ closing ceremony, which also featured the announcement of the Finalists, and ultimate winner of The Screaming Pope Prize, Galway based Tom Mc Clean.

I had a very engaging day before in Killorglin, investigating a myriad of artworks by near 100 artists. It was super to get a chance to talk to artists, many of them recent graduates about their work, techniques and practices – and I learned a lot myself too. The in depth conversations with Neil of the Festival Committee, and Seán Kissane of IMMA on the judging panel were also a highlight, and there were many contenders.

Kudos to the festival committee, and indeed the whole town for its openness, respect and indeed love for the event. Myself and all the guests were treated royally, and I am especially indebted to Neil Browne and Tricia O’Connor for their dedication to ensuring this, and for the incisive nature of our conversations.

KFest has many parallels with artist led initiatives around the country, not least with Askeaton Contemporary Art, and our own Contact Studios’ initiatives including Gallery Interlude – bringing art directly to the community in a relevant and inclusive manner. It’s all the more impressive given the limited budget – I sincerely hope funding is increased in coming years!

I’m super happy to see my old friend Dave O’Shea of The Chimera Gallery in Mullingar is hosting Tom’s work this weekend also, the only pity being I can’t attend. Best of luck to all!