Childhood memories of Athlone inspire new exhibition

Mark Garry, from Mullingar, is to hold his first exhibition of 2017, ‘An Afterwards’, in Luan Gallery, Athlone, launching on Saturday, February 11. This exhibition is a special one for Mark as he spent time in Athlone during his childhood, and has incorporated some of his personal memories into the artwork.

From an early age he had a passion for art, and in particular, nature. Starting with Saturday morning art classes, his natural talents developed throughout his childhood, with the constant support of his parents. Although art was his passion, he felt unsure whether it would take him anywhere in life, and turned to teaching English, art, and basic IT skills in a Youthreach centre in Ballymun. While working here, he became involved in writing and curating.

After being out of college for roughly seven years, Mark was visiting friends in New York when he started creating his artwork again. Quickly advancing through the art world, he was involved in three group shows for upcoming artists, all the while studying for a Masters in painting in Dun Laoghaire.

Mark’s first solo show was in the Venice Biennale which he described as a “thrilling but terrifying experience”. The next ten years were spent flying all over the world holding exhibitions in museums and art venues in Europe, North America, Australia, and Asia.

Mark Garry’s exhibitions are completely unique and innovative. In his own words, his work is “about responding to opportunities and the social and architectural situations” of where his art will be shown. He also sometimes subtly incorporates personal and political views into his shows. This involves research into the town in which he is holding an exhibition, to find a way to interact with any interesting elements he comes across. In a show held in Charleston, South Carolina, a reference to slavery was subtly embedded, and in Marseille he paid homage to a hip-hop song by a local band, reflecting his love of musicology.

For his ‘An Afterwards’ exhibition, memories of childhood visits to his aunt and uncle in Athlone have been included. Religion and the landscape of Athlone have also influenced this show. Mark remarked that he is “feeling pressure” in the preparation of this show as it is so close to home, and friends and family who would not normally be able to attend will be coming. This show has a mixture of everything - old and new pieces, photographs, paintings, print work, and his spectacular thread drawings. An eight-minute film with an original soundtrack and shot in Sligo, where he currently resides, is also featured.

A very special element of this exhibition is that for the first time, work by Mark’s parents will also be on display.

Mark Garry’s truly exceptional work will be launched in the Luan Gallery, Athlone, with a drinks reception on February 11 at 6pm. The show runs until April 22.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a brief publication with written contributions by Rachael Gilbourne, assistant curator of exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

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