LAST FRIDAY evening at Galway Arts Centre saw the opening of Sample, the debut exhibition by Red Bird arts collective. Sample is a show that gives ample proof of this young group’s talent and imagination and augurs well for its future prospects.
Red Bird is an arts organisation that came together under the aegis of the Galway Arts Centre, for youths by youths, to encourage and support creativity for young people in the surrounding community.
The group had its beginnings in a 2008 pilot programme the arts centre ran for young people. Through funding from the Arts Council, CREATE, the Galway City Council, and the Galway County Council this evolved into Red Bird, a youth-led board where young people programme work aimed at young people.
There are currently nine members of Red Bird - Katie Clarke, Emma Zulcovic, Izabela Sikorska, Julie Mc Hugh, Theresa Gessert, Marie Charlier, Daniel Bermingham, Síofra Ní Chonluain, and Caoimhe Harkin.
Their ages range from mid teens to early twenties, they hail from different countries and their spheres of interest take in such diverse areas as fashion, creative writing, journalism, acting, acrobatics, film, and visual art. Their aim is to create a platform where arts can be easily accessed by any young people who wish to express themselves through the many facets of the arts.
In putting together the work featured in Sample, the Red Bird ‘fledgelings’ received guidance from artist Louise Manifold whose wealth of knowledge was acknowledged to be of invaluable help.
The calibre of work on show is certainly impressive. Theresa Gessert and Emma Zulcovic collaborated on a simple yet very imaginative and powerful exhibit on the theme of alcohol addiction. A series of bottles were displayed with customised labels, devised by the artists, which carried concise yet potent images and stories of the ramifications of addiction.
There was also an element of social conscience in Caoimhe Harkin’s ‘Eglinton Canal’ which commented on the litter that defaces the canal by means of a wall-mounted sculptural melange of discarded plastics and suchlike detritus over which shimmering light played to watery effect.
Aspiring fashion student Daniel Birmingham exhibited ‘Black Flower’ which explores the relationship between the manufactured and the natural via his photographs of a model strikingly attired in a medley of plastics, metal, ivy, and moss.
Marie Charlier and Julie McHugh teamed up to create ‘Bedside Films’ which features a large pillow and a card that directs you to a website where you can view short films intended to make you feel sleepy and to help the viewer wind down after a busy day.
In a somewhat similar vein was Siofra Ni Chonluain’s ‘All Worries Must Be Disposed Of’ piece which comprised a piece of film featuring the reading of a Sylvia Plath poem and an invitation to the viewers to jot down their worries on a piece of paper and then discard the paper – getting rid of the worry along with it.
Izabela Sikorska’s piece, a miniature doll-like figure separated into its component parts each in its own frame, was another that attracted much interest.
“In this piece,” says Izabela, “I focused in grotesque perfection of delicate replica of the human form. I imprisoned it, captured it and make it unable to move, totally destroying its purpose of existence. I tried to show how something broken, almost ugly still could be fascinating and interesting.”
The opening generated quite a buzz among those attending, including guest of honour Mayor Hildegarde Naughton who declared herself “blown away” by the work on show.
In an imaginative touch which further highlighted the ‘youth’ angle of the enterprise, the complementary refreshments included sweets and cupcakes (courtesy of sponsors Sweetey Pies and Candyland ) instead of the usual vino.
Other sponsors which assisted Red Bird include Lorg Printmakers, Paper Cuts Design Company, and Flying Knee Productions.
Future Red Bird projects include making a film and curating an exhibition for professional artists’ works at Galway Arts Centre. This ambitious project will further establish Red Bird as an exciting happening opportunity for youths in Galway. The collective are also planning a collaborative venture with the Red Square Critic’s Group from Kilkenny’s Butler Gallery.
So plenty more to look forward to from Red Bird. Sample continues until tomorrow.