art exhibitions, Prison art

Great show – but where were the artists?

"Humans sharing Spaces", by John at the CHQ Building this week
From “Humans sharing Spaces” – a collage by John …

Unusual for a group exhibition – none of the artists turned up for the opening – but I was there myself and there was a great buzz, with speeches and applause, canapés, smoked salmon and all that jazz.

People felt very proud (I was delighted myself when I saw one particular piece on display). Everyone said that it was a great achievement – but a great pity that the artists themselves weren’t there to see it.

And if you were wondering why that was, well, it’s because they are all still in prison. It was an exhibition of artworks made by people in prison and it was entitled: “Humans sharing Spaces”, a joint initiative by the Irish Prison Service Education Centres and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

"Humans sharing Spaces" at the CHQ Building, Dublin
Before the opening of “Humans sharing Spaces” at the CHQ Building, Dublin

I did an Arts Council project in Cloverhill Prison last year, working with the prisoners to produce artworks for this exhibition. The piece you saw at the top is by John (we can’t use his full name) but would you believe that John had never done art before this project!

He told me that the tower at the bottom of the collage was known locally as “the Cup and Saucer” in his hometown, and that he saw the flying doves in a book about Magritte… Of all the works in the show (and there were hundreds more submitted), I was delighted that this piece got selected. Congratulations John.

It’s always a bit of a rollercoaster ride working in a prison. When you think of it: hundreds of (mostly) young men living in close proximity with strangers; lonely for their loved ones; possibly trying to deal with an addiction; maybe traumatised by some unresolved incident – it can be very difficult for them to come to grips with this new situation.

oil painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
“Graduate”, 50 x 50cm, oil on canvas, 2011 – one of my own paintings (in the collection of the state)

But in the art class, there’s a supportive atmosphere. We talk about mixing colours. We talk about the home place, about dreams, about the great artists… For a few hours, we forget about the present and we venture into a world of new possibilities. We begin to make art.

The exhibition continues until the 26th of March in the prestigious CHQ Building in Dublin and I’m told that it will tour to some other venues later on in the year.

http://www.iprt.ie/education-and-arts-in-prison

http://www.artscouncil.ie/home/

http://www.eoinmaclochlainn.com/

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/

 

 

art exhibitions

Limerick in the Springtime

photo of Limerick by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Well, I don’t know why some people have a bad impression of Limerick. I think it’s a great place, a beautiful city, friendly people, Georgian architecture, public parks, the Milk Market, the River Shannon… a daycent place altogether.

We had the official opening of “Silent Stories” there last Saturday, at the Belltable in O’Connell Street. A great turnout from near and far. Monica Spencer gave an inspiring speech. Thanks to all the people who attended. You should’ve been there! (but maybe you were 🙂 ).

"Silent Stories", a 2 person art exhibition at the Belltable, Limerick with paintings by Miriam McConnon and Eoin Mac Lochlainn

"Silent Stories", a 2 person art exhibition at the Belltable, Limerick with paintings by Miriam McConnon and Eoin Mac Lochlainn

"Silent Stories", a 2 person art exhibition at the Belltable, Limerick with paintings by Miriam McConnon and Eoin Mac Lochlainn

"Silent Stories", a 2 person art exhibition at the Belltable, Limerick with paintings by Miriam McConnon and Eoin Mac Lochlainn
Olivier Cornet introducing our guest speaker: Monica Spencer

And in case you were wondering, yes, those are 3 cinema seats from the old cinema!  And finally, here’s wishing all my readers a Happy St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow.  Beannachtaí Lá ‘le Pádraig daoibh go léir!

More information about our 2 person exhibition  “Silent Stories” below.  Oh, and did I mention the Daffodils?

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/#/exhibitions-silent-stories/4593508254

http://miriammcconnonart.com/

http://www.eoinmaclochlainn.com/

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/

https://www.limetreetheatre.ie/shows/belltable/

art exhibitions, Gaeilge

Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin

Painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of empty fireplace, Fanad, Donegal
“Tinteán Tréigthe no. 32”,  42 x 42cm, oil on canvas, 2017

It’s Irish Language Week this week dear Reader – but scroll down to read the English translation, if you wish. Nach iontach go bhfuil seacht lá déag i Seachtain na Gaeilge i mbliana, a Chairde.

So, tá scéailín deas agam daoibh inniu faoin bpictiúr sin ag barr. Sin tinteán mo shin-sheanmháthair, thuas ar leithinis Fhánada i nGaeltacht Thír Chonaill.

Emily McGloughlin ab ainm di agus ba leathdheirfiúr le Pádraig Mac Piarais í. Rugadh i mBleá Cliath í ach bhí sí ag obair ar feadh tréimhse mar bhean chabhrach (midwife) thuas i Fánaid. Dúirt bean liom go ndúirt bean léi go raibh cónaí uirthi i dteachaín beag deas in ascaill ghleanna, áit eicint in aice le Ros na Cille, in iarthar na leithinise.

Photo of Emily McGloughlin nee Pearse
Emily McGloughlin – photo courtesy of Páraic Mac Lochlainn

Agus bhí an t-ádh linn. D’aimsigh muid an teach gan mórán stró ach faraor, bhí an dian tite isteach agus bhí driseacha agus eidhneán ag fás san seomra suí(!). Ach bhí crann úll fós ag fás lasmuigh, bhí toranna spíonán sa ghairdín cúil agus bhí srutháinín deas ag boilgearnach leis in aice láimhe.

Agus fiú má bhí sé truamhéalach anois, bhí suaimhneas iontach le mothú ann, agus is cinnte go raibh mo shin-sheanmháthair ag breathnú anuas orainn le grá ina croí.

photo by Eoi Mac Lochlainn of Mise outside my great grandmother's house in Fanad, Co. Donegal
Outside my great grandmother’s house in Fanad, Co. Donegal

Believe it or not – the empty fireplace in the painting above is from my great grandmother’s cottage near Rosnakill in Co. Donegal. You can read about how I discovered this cottage in a previous blog post at https://emacl.wordpress.com/2016/04/14/emilys-house/

My great grandmother Emily McGloughlin was born in Dublin. She was a nurse/midwife and she worked up in Co. Donegal for over 30. When you see her cottage now, it really brings home to you how different her life must’ve been back then.

It was just a one-room cottage – no electricity, no ensuite(!), no running water (although there’s a little stream burbling it’s way past the back of the house). It was part of a ‘clachan’, a cluster of stone cottages in a shady hollow, not quite a village… and we were told that the house on the left was Nurse McGloughlin’s.

It was very nice to be there. I think we could feel her gentle spirit smiling down on us. There was an ancient apple tree growing outside, and some gooseberry bushes.

An Explanation

The heading on my post today is a common Irish proverb: Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féinwhich literally means: there’s no fireplace like your own fireplace, or in other words: there’s no place like home. I’ve painted many empty fireplaces in recent years, from all over the country, but I’m particularly fond of this one.

It will feature in the exhibition “Silent Stories” which opens at the Belltable in Limerick this Saturday, the 11th of March. This is a 2 person show with Miriam McConnon, curated by Olivier Cornet. More information at –

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/#/exhibitions-silent-stories/4593508254

http://miriammcconnonart.com/

http://www.eoinmaclochlainn.com/

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/

https://www.limetreetheatre.ie/shows/belltable/

http://snag.ie/

 

art exhibitions, Culture

As they say in Limerick: “Cmereiwantcha”

oil painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn of empty fireplace
“Tinteán Tréigthe no. 31”,  50 x 50cm, oil on canvas, 2017

We didn’t have a dresser in our kitchen.  We only had shelves with hooks for the cups. The gas cooker was in a room on its own, called the scullery.

Kitchen units? – we’d never heard of them. But we had a fireplace, with a fire that never went out. Maybe that’s why I started my series of paintings of old fireplaces. They hold so many memories in their dusty hearths.

And in the upcoming 2 person show “Silent Stories” at the Belltable in Limerick, I’ll be showing some new pieces (see one above). I think that they’ll work well alongside Miriam McConnon’s paintings of domestic objects.

Because, whether we sit at a fireplace and poke at the flames or whether we peel the potatoes or dry the dishes or just drink tea from a chipped teacup, we get used to the ordinary things around us, they become part of our lives. They reveal something of the story of our lives.

Photo of tintean at home by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

Yes, the photo above is one I came across in the attic this morning. It’s the tinteán we had in my mother’s house. The photo was taken after she died and the fire was no longer lit. An embroidered fireguard covers the void. A couple of holy statues and a lot of postcards on the mantelpiece. That unfortunate Child o’ Prague – it had fallen and been repaired so many times…

The painting below is one of Miriam’s. Coloured Threads. They remind me of my mother, sitting in front of the fire, sewing.

Miriam McConnon : "Coloured Threads", 50 x 50 oil on canvas
Miriam McConnon : “Coloured Threads”, 50 x 50, oil on canvas, 2016

But cmere – our 2 person show “Silent Stories” opens at the Belltable on Saturday, the 11th of March. More of the story at –

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/#/exhibitions-silent-stories/4593508254

http://miriammcconnonart.com/

http://www.eoinmaclochlainn.com/

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/

https://www.limetreetheatre.ie/shows/belltable/

https://lovin.ie/counties/limerick/slang-words-and-phrases-that-you-will-only-understand-if-youre-from-limerick

 

art exhibitions, Historic

What’s extra special about the city of Limerick?

collage of oilpaintings by Eoin Mac Lochlainn

No, I’m not talking about EVA or Limerick Lace or even the Rubberbandits. I’m talking about the one and only Limerick Soviet.

In April 1919, during the Irish War of Independence, the British authorithies decided to impose martial law after the killing of a policeman, Mark O’Brien. They declared Limerick a “Special Military Area” which meant that all citizens had to apply for a permit to enter the city.

This did not go down well with Limerick folk and the Limerick Trades and Labour Council responded by organising a general strike. They took over all the shops and businesses in the city and a special strike committee was set up to control food prices, publish newspapers and print their own money. And so the Limerick Soviet was founded and the businesses of the city accepted the strike currency.

The Limerick Soviet became worldwide news because of the presence of hundreds of international journalists in the city at the time, who were there to witness an early attempt to fly across the Atlantic, from Bawnmore in Limerick to the American continent.

painting of empty fireplace by Eoin Mac Lochlainn
“Tinteán Tréigthe no.30”, 50 x 50cm, oil on canvas, 2017

The term “soviet” (meaning a self-governing committee) had become a popular term around 1917 recalling the Russian soviets that would lead to the formation of the USSR. However, it could not be said that this was a truly Communistic uprising. Ruth Russell of the Chicago Tribune remarked on the devout nature of the strike committee when she saw the red-badged guards rising and blessing themselves when they heard the Angelus bells ringing from the church of St. Munchin.

Whether it was the prayers or the stubborn courage of the workers (or both), we’ll never know but the permit system was overturned and this was a victory for the Limerick workers. Unfortunately, the general strike was not supported in the rest of the country and so it ended there.

Now, if you’re wondering why I’m writing about the Limerick Soviet it’s because I’ve been reading about the history of Limerick before my 2 person show there next month (in the Belltable).  Still a few paintings to finish but the painting above – Tinteán Tréigthe no. 30  – that’ll be in the exhibition.  And if you were wondering about the image at the top – it’s one of my old Limerick cityscapes with a Tinteán painting superimposed over it. My red tribute to the erstwhile Limerick Soviet.

Now, if you think that there’s other, more special things about Limerick, please let me know. Drop me a comment  🙂

And there’s more information about the exhibition at:

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/#/exhibitions-silent-stories/4593508254

http://miriammcconnonart.com/

http://www.eoinmaclochlainn.com/

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/

https://www.limetreetheatre.ie/shows/belltable/

art exhibitions, artists

“The Truth is rarely pure and never simple”

Miriam McConnon Common Ground
Miriam McConnon and some of the children of “Common Ground”

So rather than add to the hatred and bile that is boiling over around the internet these days, I’d like to tell you about a project that tries to bring people together.

This is “Common Ground”, a project initiated by Miriam McConnon, an Irish artist who lives in Cyprus. As you know, the two communities in Cyprus have been divided since a Turkish invasion of the island in 1974 (after a coup by the Greek military Junta) so the aim of the project was to bring Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot children closer together.

This project is one of the main events to celebrate the Cypriot city of Paphos becoming Cultural Capital of Europe in 2017.

A series of workshops took place in the town of Kerynia (Northern Cyprus) and the town of Paphos (Republic of Cyprus) from February to April 2016 in which the children created a public artwork using the Cypriot technique of cementography. During the workshops the children exchanged drawings, stones and earth from their towns. The artwork created in Paphos was created using the stones, earth and  drawings from the children of Kerynia and likewise, the artwork in Kerynia was created using the stones, earth and drawings from the children of Paphos.

Miriam hopes that there will be many more cross-community cultural events in the future that will help to break down the borders between the two communities, between people who have had little or no contact for over forty years.

Oil painting by Miriam McConnon
Miriam McConnon : “Domestic Landscape II”, oil on canvas, 70 x 80cm

I wanted to tell you about Miriam Mc Connon because she and I are going to have a two person show entitled “Silent Stories”, in the Belltable in Limerick in March.

In her current body of work, the simple china cup is featured extensively, multiples of cups expanding across the canvas, creating ‘landscapes’ that resemble walls or partitions. Walls can provide security but also can keep people out. The pattern of cups perhaps echoes the repetition of domestic chores and domestic routines. Does the intensity of this repetition make us feel secure or does it smother us, I wonder.

For me, the cups hold precious memories. I think they could be a symbol of home, with all its complicated highs and lows. But as Oscar Wilde once wrote: “The truth is rarely pure and never simple”

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/#/exhibitions-silent-stories/4593508254

http://miriammcconnonart.com/

http://www.eoinmaclochlainn.com/

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/

https://www.limetreetheatre.ie/shows/belltable/

 

art exhibitions

Can art make a difference in this crazy world?

painting by Joy Gerrard at the RHA gallery
From “Shot Crowd”, an exhibition of paintings and video by Joy Gerrard at the RHA

Well it is crazy. And getting crazier and more dangerous every day. But I want to tell you about an art exhibition that’s on at the moment. Black and white paintings – mostly large – scenes of mass protests taken from newspapers or the internet, images of dense crowds viewed from above, from tall buildings or from police helicopters, perhaps.

The Arab Spring, “Black Lives Matter”, Anti-Trump demonstrations – all part of our recent history – but then I wondered: what does she think of all this? Is she ‘for’ or ‘against’ or is she simply observing?

Someone else might say that it doesn’t matter, it’s just art – but it matters to me! I knew a fella once, he’d make art videos of all the marches – but he never took part. I used to see him standing up on plinth with his camera as we marched by. Where did he really stand, I wondered?

Joy Gerrard at the RHA
Detail from a painting by Joy Gerrard

But I’m talking about the wonderful paintings by Joy Gerrard in Shot Crowd at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin at the moment. I was very taken by them. And when I think about it, how they deliberately choose the ‘helicopter view’, I imagine she wanted to portray that sinister feeling of being under constant surveillance.

The paintings are Japanese black ink on linen. See the detail above, the water based ink mixed to different consistencies from transparent washes to solid black, her brushwork quite free and loose, perhaps to emphasise the humanity of the scene and to subvert the threatening atmosphere in some way.

And there’s also a video and this is what really caught my attention. Hard to describe, it’s like a model of an empty city and then thousands of ball bearings start pouring in from one side until the ‘city’ is completely taken over by them. (Actually, they’re not ball bearings, Joy tells me, they are shot or shot gun pellets, collected by emptying shot gun cartridges). The pellets finally come to a halt and  there’s silence for a moment before the pellets start running again, away to the other side, until the city is deserted again.

Video, Joy Gerrard
Still from video in “Shot Crowd”, an exhibition by Joy Gerrard at the RHA

And so it continues endlessly. I imagine the creator tilting the ‘city’ from side to side to make the pellets roll, some hidden hand controlling the situation, allowing the ‘people’ to run wild for a while but containing them within certain limits and ultimately, maintaining absolute power over them. Scary thought.

Scary times. But could an art video change anything? I believe it can. It can raise awareness; it can move an audience and make them think. And that’s crucial in today’s world. What do you think?

http://www.joygerrard.com/

http://www.rhagallery.ie/exhibitions/shot-crowd/

http://www.eoinmaclochlainn.com/

http://www.oliviercornetgallery.com/