GALWAY HAS long prided itself on its historic Spanish links but an exhibition currently showing in the Black Gate makes a modern connection between Spain and the city. The work is by Spanish artist Sabina Niguez who hails originally from Alicante but has been living in Galway for the past four years.
Niguez’s sketches and paintings capture Galwegian life and cityscapes, its streets, bars and musicians with great charm and imagination. “Galway captivates me and inspires me to continue telling stories of this city; always, in the moment,” she declares.
Sitting with Sabina in the welcoming setting of the Black Gate Cultural Centre, I ask her what first brought her to Galway; “My aunt’s husband is Irish and he encouraged me to visit Ireland. He said to me he thought I would like Galway because the arts are so big here,” she tells me. “When I came here I thought it was beautiful and soon I started getting to know people here. I started volunteering here working with special needs kids and found it very easy and natural to contact people and get on with them.
'Most of my work has been black and white, and I now want to express the beauty of Galway through adding some splashes of colour'
"I still do volunteering with Galway Autism Partnership. Working with them inspired me to get back into my art. Before I came to Ireland I was living in Amsterdam. There I was under stress and I stopped doing what I love which is drawing, and exploring the feelings of where I live. I used to write a lot at the same time as sketching; sometimes a picture inspires me to write, it makes a connection between what I am watching and myself. After coming to Galway I began doing that again.”
The exhibition features portrayals of local musicians like Tom Portman, Steven Sharpe, Tom Pyne, and Mark McConville, and Sabina asserts that seeing musicians perform who are committed to their art is something that inspires her greatly. Familiar landmarks like the prom, the Salmon Weir Bridge, the harbour and Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop also feature in the show.
She notices that her work has evolved since coming to Galway. “It has changed a bit,” she admits. “I used to do more classic style work; I started to relax a lot and look at things differently and I have seen an evolution in my work from doing that. Definitely there is another way to express bringing both things together, that classic expression I used years ago with a lot of detail and what I do here. Also, most of my work has been black and white, and I now want to express the beauty of Galway through adding some splashes of colour. I started feeling very comfortable doing that and I will continue working in that way.”
The splashes of colour Sabina describes are mostly watercolour. “I started doing watercolours more often in Galway because I think the colours here suit them,” she observes. “Most of the days are grey and though we always say sunny days are beautiful there is something I like about Galway’s grey days and they inspired me to use watercolours,” she explains.
The exhibition is entitled Galway? and will continue at the Black Gate for the next three weeks.