Four artists from County Clare embarked on a voyage of discovery when undertaking a masters at the Limerick School of Art and Design – one that created support structures and communities of practice now finding expression in a new commitment to making and exhibiting art as Culture Night will show this Friday night. Joe Ó Muircheartaigh reports.
You could say that for the group it was a lightbulb moment — once enrolled, once committed and at once embracing a return to education that the door to something else opened at the same time.
Yes, the end product was about getting a Masters of Arts in Art and Design Education from a two-year blended programme that involved both on-line and face-to-face education, but it was about more than that as artist Edel Hogan explains.
“Doing the MA reawakened our commitment to making art,” she revealed. “You take a side road for a time, but the MA re-directed our route back to practicing art and making art…..and exhibiting that art.”
It’s all being facilitated through the artists’ eagerness to work, but also the community of practice that the MA gave them and has continued to exist and indeed flourish post-graduation earlier this year.
The four artists are: Edel Hogan and Lorraine Callanan, both of whom are from Tulla, Ballynacally woman Mary Moran who teaches in St Joseph’s Secondary School in Tulla and Bairbre Geraghty from Miltown Malbay.
“We all had very different individual practices,” reveals Hogan. “The mediums we work in are very different, but what we took forward from the MA was the notion that support group where we can discuss and engage in dialogue on the particular concepts that we’re interested in.
The courthouse has never had an exhibition before. It’s used for a variety of different events, but not for visual arts, but the people there have really come on board and have been very supportive. We had to begin by painting the place.
“It’s through the support and that we give each other the time to critique whatever it is that we want to deal with through our work — it’s those sort of conversations that are most valuable. That’s what we took forward from the MA.
“It was to keep this going, keep the cog turning. That’s what was most important — that community of practice that it boils down to. It’s hopping ideas off each other. We’d meet in each other’s studios. We’d meet in a central area and of late when we’re putting a proposal together we’re doing it together.
“When you’re doing something that’s not doing what you wanted it to do, you’ve got someone there to thrash it out with. You’ve got that support — someone who’s inside your practice, inside the kind of concerns you have,” she adds.
The result is that the cog has kept turning, with the latest exhibition taking place in the Courthouse Studios in Tulla as part of Culture Night being the latest collaboration in what the four artists hope to be an evolving, organic and continuous stream.
Mary Moran’s background is in sculpture, but for this exhibition she has made a series of prints.
Bairbre has a painting background, but has concentrated on drawing for his exhibition. Lorraine Callanan works through digital means, so she’s doing photography and video, while Edel Hogan is working with sculpture.
“It will be varied and it’s nice to see variety as a different response,” says Hogan. It’s that sense of organic springboard that you can achieve amongst each other, which is important and something that we feed off,” she adds.
Their first exhibition was in Miltown Malbay during Willie Clancy Week, when a vacant business premises on the Main Street became the launchpad for a show.
“We began in Miltown because we had a venue,” says Hogan. “It was right in the Main Street and there was footfall. There was something nice about being in the gallery space. We cleared it out and transformed it. The original idea was to have a working studio there, but what we actually did was put on an exhibition and had an opening.
“The curious thing about that was that it was during Willie Clancy Week. It wouldn’t be your typical week for visual art — at least when you’re going to Willie Clancy, you’re going for the traditional music.
“It was a little out of its water, so it was very interesting to hear the reactions of people who came in out of curiosity. It sparked the idea we’d like to show our work in our local communities which may not necessarily have a visual outlet or venue event.”
Now it’s Tulla.
“The courthouse has never had an exhibition before,” she reveals. “It’s used for a variety of different events, but not for visual arts, but the people there have really come on board and have been very supportive. We had to begin by painting the place.
“We have this notion of bringing our work to the local communities and this is part of that. We are going to introduce our practices — have an open discussion and casual dialogue about our practice. That happened organically when we were discussing the exhibition, where people were confused or unsure about contemporary art and not sure how to read it. We offered, they somewhat asked, to have a chat around our work and that will happen this Friday night.”
The of course, the art-show moves onto Ballynacally.
All the remains is to find a venue there.
‘Ties that Bind’ takes place in the Courthouse in Tulla at 7pm this Friday.