Barbara Jennings rolls out The Golden Ball

This Saturday, March 21 , a new art exhibition opens at the Town Hall bar featuring the work of Barbara Jennings. The show features works in paper, mixed media and bronze.

Born and currently resident in Dublin, Barbara spent some time in Galway in the 1980s, graduating in Design from the RTC here. She then won a Council of Europe Scholarship in association with the Royal Minister of Foreign Affairs in Norway that saw her move to Oslo for a period. She has exhibited in Ireland, England, France and Norway. Her CV also includes numerous credits in costume design, working both in theatre and in television for a range of programmes with RTE.

Barbara’s art draws on her long-honed skills in paper-making, textiles and fibres. The inspiration for the pieces in The Golden Ball comes from her daily walks amid the beautiful old trees and greenery of St Anne’s Park near where she lives in Raheny. She notices and observes Nature and transmutes its forms into captivating, colourful artworks.

The exhibition includes mixed media pieces made from leaves and waste paper. Barbara then paints this wonderful parchment paper with Indian inks and tears it up to structure into 3D form. Vibrantly-hued, these are lovely fusions of pattern, texture and colour. “Using waste paper is one of my recipes,” she says with a laugh, over a pre-show phone conversation. “I use discarded, waste and recycled paper, along with leaves and birch bark, I’ve been working with these materials for years.”

While the exhibition showcases the kind of work for which she has long been known, it also marks an exciting new departure with a number of gorgeous pieces in bronze.

“Working in bronze is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Barbara reveals. “A few years ago I went to Joe Moran, sculptor extraordinaire in Temple Bar Studios. He taught me all about the waxes and the clays and everything. He then said ‘go away and practice’ and he gave me loads of material and that’s what I did, in the back room of my house.

“Then I got to a certain level and I was trying to make the bronze ball which is one of the works in the exhibition. That was my first piece and I realised I needed a little bit of advice and a helping hand. My friend Rosemary, who is a neighbour, used to own a foundry -which was very handy!- and she gave me their number and from then on I had a relationship with that foundry and its present owners which is called Bronze Art.”

After years of working primarily with paper and textiles, how did she find bronze as a material to make art from? “I found it a fascinating medium to work with,” she replies. “I was able to work solely within three dimensions for starters but also in bronze. The work is a combination of me and the guys in the foundry. I love bronze now.”

The small bronze sculptures in the show use leaves and feathers for their inspiration creating a charming contrast between the delicacy and transience of the object in nature and its gleaming metallic incarnation as an artwork that is equally beautiful and retains echoes of feathery fragility.

The Golden Ball is an exhibition well worth a visit. The show will be opened at 3pm on Saturday by City Arts Officer James Harrold at 3pm. The exhibition continues at the Town Hall until April 30.— CMcB

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