2014 promises to be an exciting year for Galway Arts Centre’s visual art programme. Despite funding cuts to the arts for five consecutive years, the Dominick Street gallery is still working with a superb mix of Irish and international artists in solo and group exhibitions. The visual art education programme is also reaching new levels with major projects for young people and older people in 2014.
A group exhibition entitled NINE kicks off the year on January 25. Curated by Dublin City Council assistant arts officer Sheena Barrett and education professionals Lynne McGrane (Dublin Contemporary ) and Liz Coman (advisor to the young people, children, and education department of the Arts Council of Ireland, The Ark Cultural Centre for Children, Dublin City Arts Office ). The title NINE comes from the curator’s investigation into what it is like to be nine years old. Using the seminal’Growing Up in Ireland’ longitudinal study of children in Ireland as a starting point, artists Aideen Barry, Alan Butler, Maeve Clancy, Sam Keogh, and graphic designer Oonagh Young each made new work in response. The diverse exhibition looks at bullying, taking risks, creative play, and subversive creativity as a result of boredom. Nine year olds across Galway city and county have been invited to take part in workshops in February.
2014 will also focus on Galway based visual artists with solo exhibitions by Austin Ivers, Jennifer Cunningham, Selma Makela, and recent graduate Teresa Ward, who is also the recipient of the 2013 Mentored Residency Award, a local authority sponsored bursary and mentored studio residency in Galway Arts Centre. All four artists have strong links to the Creative Arts Department in GMIT, with Ivers lecturing in digital media and Cunningham, Makela, and Ward as GMIT graduates in printmaking and painting.
The visual art programme will also work with Carl Giffney, co-founder of the Good Hatchery residency in Offaly. Giffney will be making new work in a variety of media, with the context of GAC specifically in mind. Much of Giffney’s time is spent on residencies in Ireland and internationally, working in eclectic settings such as coal mines and seahorse farms.
Gillian Lawler, a Dublin based artist, will present new paintings and video work in 2014. Lawler’s recent research has centred on Centralia, a near-abandoned town in Pennsylvania USA. A fire in a mine under the town burns furiously, resulting in the site being engulfed by smoke and fumes. Lawler will present work that addresses human responses to natural phenomena and also imagines a near future where people coexist with this unstable environment. Liam O’Callaghan, an artist also based in Dublin, is ‘a notably inventive and resourceful artist’ (The Irish Times ) who, in his sculptural and installation works, exposes mechanics and methods in order to create engagement with viewers.
GAC will again be partnering with the University Hospital’s Arts Trust to present the work of Marie Brett, an artist who sensitively addresses pregnancy and infant loss through photography, text, and audio visual works.
In 2012 head of visual art, Maeve Mulrennan, completed a three month curatorial residency in Berlin. Since then she has been working with Berlin based Ciaran Walsh and Stine Marie Jacobsen on solo exhibitions which will both be presented in 2014. Walsh, originally from Carlow, has show in IMMA, Crawford Municipal Gallery, and Visual, Carlow. Jacobsen will present new works relating to her ongoing research into how people’s memories are unstable, subjective, and in a constant state of flux. Her recent successful project, ‘Direct Approach’, saw her working with members of the public to re-enact violent scenes from films as a way to begin a discussion about violence in everyday life and the history of violence that is embedded in the city of Berlin.
2014 will also see the return of Impressions, a biennial exhibition of fine art printmaking by Irish artists. Running for more than 20 years, the exhibition is popular
with Galway audiences.“Impressions strikes the right balance of being reliable while still being fresh and bringing new ideas and formats to GAC every two years,” says Maeve Mulrennan. “The exhibition has gone from a large show that sold about one third of the work featured, to a smaller exhibition with experimental works and larger pieces. Sales have gone down a lot since 2008.”
Galway Arts Centre is one of the partnership organisations of Tulca Festival of Visual Art which is going into its 12th year. 2013’s festival, curated by Valerie O’Connor, was a great success in terms of audience numbers and critical reception. For 2014, Tulca promises to be an engaging festival in unusual venues around Galway city and county.
Galway Arts Centre has enjoyed considerable success with its growing education programme, particularly the Burning Bright project. This eight week project commences each winter in nursing units, day centres, and respite units in Galway city and county. Professional artists are employed to work with older people on experimental and creative works which are then exhibited in the GAC gallery as part of the nationwide Bealtaine Festival which celebrates creativity for older people during the month of May. The project attracts national attention for its professional approach to working with older people and for highlighting creativity in older people. “It is an excellent project, something we are really lucky to do. But you never know if funding will be cut,” says Mulrennan. “We will be using the publicity gained in 2013’s project to try to attract private sponsorship in 2014. Companies are realising the importance of marketing to older people; before it was believed that older people would stay loyal to brands while young people shopped around, which is not true; older people are definitely strong contributors to the economy.”
Galway Arts Centre works with young people as part of Red Bird Youth Arts Collective. Since 2011 members of Red Bird have collaborated with several high profile artists on projects focusing on sculpture, architecture, film, and curating. In 2014 Red Bird will begin its second architectural project, working with renowned architect Dominic Stevens and Galway based artist Ruth Le Gear. Red Bird will construct ‘day-dreaming pods’, which will tour Galway. The aim is to provide space for young people to day dream, away from pressures of school, families, and peers.
For more information on GAC programming, visit www.galwayartscentre.ie