Wex-Art, supported by the Arts Department of Wexford Co. Council, presents over sixteen galleries and pop-up venues in Wexford town and further afield, representing over forty artists, and celebrating the best in contemporary Wexford and Irish art, from October 13 to October 31
1. Wexford Library
Vintage books can have the most amazing depth of colour and texture in the cloth, both of which are enhanced by their exposure to damp and light. Closer and minute inspection by a still life artist with the forensic precision of Caroline Ward would unveil a faded, printed word, or a stain whose appearance might have caused a sad intake of breath many decades ago. In her mind’s eye, Caroline was able to segue the hidden world of colour and texture, swirling in the surging tide and under the waters at the margins of St Helens Bay Beach, with the faded beauty of the vintage, discarded book covers. This exhibition at Wexford Library reflects on how the aesthetic of the past can help us understand aspects of the present by indicating presences we might otherwise ignore.
2. Coast, Rosslare Strand
An exhibition of photography, craft and art (October 22-24) will take place at Coast at Rosslare Strand, featuring Ber Sweeney, Brian McDonald, Anne Marie Kearns, Cathal O’Rourke, Victor Stokes, Neil O’Rourke, David Parsons, Tina Fortune, Chez O’Grady, Margaret O’Brien, Courtney Wall and P.J. Chadwick. The exhibition is curated by Ber Sweeney, who devotes herself full-time to the study and practise of photography, drawing inspiration from the South Wexford landscape and coast.
3. The Little Geek Shack
Fran Greene’s ‘Dreamscapes’, The Little Geek Shack, St. Peter’s Square, is the latest reincarnation of a process in which his technique evolves from the metamorphosis of oils mixed with white spirits on paper, and pushing the boundaries of textural directions within landscape. He prefers to use the oil like watercolour, with the white spirits substituting for the water, and creating spontaneously and with what he refers to as a ‘trance-like looseness,’ or the sweet spot between accidental imagery and manipulation.
4. Green Acres Gallery
The Green Acres Gallery, Selskar, will feature the biggest and most eclectic gathering of artists during the Wexford Festival, including Jean Bardon, John Behan RHA, Colm Brennan, Cheryl Brown, Ken Browne, Aidan Butler, Anna Butler, Anna Campbell, Michael Canning, Eamon Colman, Eamonn Ceannt, Orla de Bri, Ana Duncan, Sarah Flynn, Michael Foley, Denise French, Cara Gordon, Stephanie Hess, Robert Kelly, Myra Jago, Stephen Lawlor, Bernadette Madden, Eoghan McGrath, Mary O’Connor, Mary O’Donnell, Padraig Parle, Elizabeth Petcu, Bob Quinn, Robert Ryan, Anthony Scott, Neil Shawcross RHA, RUA, Anita Shelbourne, John Noel Smith, Blaise Smith RHA, Stephen Vaughan, Conor Walton and Keith Wilson.
5. D’lush Café
Exhibiting at D’lush Café, Lauren Breatnagh’s most recent work explores the natural world of plants and land formations through its colour and shape. These pieces are over worked and built up with many layers of paint and mixed media placing the subject matter amongst unnatural colours and abstract landscapes. This use of layers to build up textures adds to this other worldly landscape. The work is mainly influenced by trying to communicate a dream like state where colours and shapes are used playfully, allowing the viewer to imagine their own ideas of what is taking place within the pieces. The work is her interpretation, her dream and her longing to explore these destinations.
6. Presentation Centre
Kitsch Doom, exhibiting at the Presentation Centre, Enniscorthy, is an award winning visual artist. With a background in fine art printmaking, performance, photography and video, Kitsch combines elements of fine art and media. Through performance, video, photography, and social media experiments, Kitsch explores new ways of conceptualising ‘the self’. Kitsch recently won awards for Best Experimental Film in New York Film Awards, Los Angeles Film Awards, Festigious Los Angeles and FilmCon for the recent video performance The Clothes Wear You (2020).
8. Johnstown Castle
Showing at the National Opera House and at Johnstown Castle, Serena Caulfield has exhibited regionally and nationally: her work has been shortlisted for the Zurich Portrait Prize 2021, selected for the 140th Royal Ulster Academy Exhibition, Belfast, 2021, and shortlisted for the John Richardson French Residency Award. Recent group exhibitions include Crossings at Boyle Arts Festival, MEET at Periphery Space, Gorey, In Absentia (Turps Banana) and OPEN CALL Shrine New York. She is working towards solo exhibitions at Wexford Arts Centre in 2022, and Ballina Arts Centre in 2023. Serena has recently been awarded an Artlinks Visual Arts Bursary, and an Arts Council Agility Award. Serena has an MA from NUA, Norwich UK (2009) and a BA from Gorey School of Art. Her work is held in Wexford Co. Council collection and in private collections nationally and internationally.
9. Wexford Arts Centre
Wexford Arts Centre is excited to present Skin Deep, a national touring exhibition by artist Mary-Ruth Walsh. Through collage, film and sculpture/installation, Walsh extends her interest in architecture and explores skin as substance and metaphor. Skin Deep was commissioned by Wexford Arts Centre. This is a new direction for Walsh’s obsession with architecture. Through the medium of film, collage and sculpture, Walsh explores skin’s parallels to architecture. Using Arnold Bocklin’s ‘The Isle of the Dead’ (1883) as a reference, SKIN DEEP brings us to an imaginary island, a medical-tourism destination for the pursuit of the perfect skin. Walsh’s solo and group exhibitions include IMMA (Dublin); Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane (Dublin); RHA (Dublin); CUBEOpen (Manchester); Oonagh Young Gallery (Dublin); Highlanes Gallery (Drogheda); Parlour (New York and Italy); Arts Centres (Wexford and Galway); Cross Gallery (Dublin); Goethe Institute (Dublin) and SCOPE (Miami). Curated by Catherine Bowe.
10. Red Books
‘Eitilt’ at Red Books, St. Peter’s Square, is a collaborative project between Wexford artist Alan Davis and American artist Sarah O’Brien. Ornithology was a key feature in the origins of the work: flight of thoughts and expression combined to create a new dialogue. The digital images have been passed back and forth between the artists, and the blending and editing allowed narratives to develop and entwine. Each of the accompanying 50 limited edition publications will contain one unique removable image per book, making each unit a one-of-a-kind artefact.
11. Wexford Co. Council
Maria McKinney (Wexford County Council) works in sculpture, photography and film that primarily investigates agricultural practices and the science that informs various methods of food production. She is interested in the underlying complexities experienced by all those connected with the land and farms as sites where these practices take place. For this new body of work, Totem Yokes commissioned by Wexford County Council for the M11 Per Cent for Art Scheme, McKinney shows a series of new sculptures inspired by agrarian practices and pastoral traditions of six farms currently operating in the Wexford country side. The artist visited the farms and listened to how certain practices, histories and stories have led to particular modes of food production in these townlands. Previous solo exhibitions include the Museum of English Rural Life (2019), RHA, Dublin, Lokaal 01, Antwerp, Belgium (both 2016), La Permanence, Clermont-Ferrand, France (2015), the MAC, Belfast (2012) and the Lab Gallery, Dublin (2010). Totem Yokes is curated by Oonagh Young
12. National Opera House
An exhibition of rarely seen photographs of the early years of the Wexford Festival is on show at the National Opera House. The eighteen black and white photographs in the Creative Ireland sponsored 70 Years A-Growing capture background scenes of the inaugural ‘The Wexford Festival’ in 1951, when Dr. Tom Walsh and his committee staged The Rose of Castile in the Georgian Theatre Royal. Among the photographs are stage designs and preparations for the William Balfe opera, and portraits of the very first Wexford volunteers. The exhibition reflects the burgeoning relationship between the small Irish town and Italy in the 1950s and which continues to this day.
13. The Blue Egg Gallery
Each year, the Blue Egg Gallery presents an exhibition, entitled BRAVURA, to coincide with the Wexford Opera Festival. This group exhibition is an opportunity to show off, to a wide audience, the best of applied art by Irish and international makers. This year’s exhibition will mark the tenth anniversary of the opening of the gallery by Mary Gallagher. During that first decade, the gallery has brought into the limelight a wide and exciting range of functional and decorative work. BRAVURA 2021 will celebrate that tenth anniversary by presenting new work by makers who have exhibited in the gallery in the past. Among those featured will be Jim Behan, Scott Benefield, by Gintaras Malinauskas , Cara Murphy, Angela Forte and Sinéad Fagan. BRAVURA 2021 will run from Saturday 9th October until Sunday 31st October. Normal gallery opening hours are from Tues to Sun between 11.00 am and 5.30pm. During the Opera Festival (19th October to 31st October) the gallery will be open every day including Sundays.
14. 94 South Main Street
Jeanne Ffrench (Seamus Kenny Gallery and 94 South Main Street) studied Art and Design at Gorey School of Art for three years and graduated in 2006. Her primary art practice is through painting. She has enjoyed much success and her work is widely sought at home and abroad. Her work is held in the Wesley College Art Collection in Dublin. Jeanne has received numerous commissions for her works over the years and has held a number of highly successful exhibitions during the Wexford Opera Festival over the past ten years. Irish Biodiversity photographer of the year for 2017 and 2018, John Holden (94 South Main Street) has always been an avid street photographer, searching out candid shots of interesting people and scenes in Ireland, London, Brighton and NYC, while landscape maritime, and architectural photography also feature in this collection. There is an overarching theme to the work: searching out new ways to explore nature, people and places, while always celebrating diversity and biodiversity.
15. The Annexe
Olivia O’Dwyer (Lockdown Diaries, The Annexe, Wexford Arts Centre) has exhibited both locally and internationally, most recent exhibitions include ‘Meet’ Peripheries Space, Gorey. ‘From the Mountain’, with selected works from Arts Council of Ireland. Kathmandu, Nepal, funded by Culture Ireland. Olivia was awarded an Artlinks bursary, 2020 and is part of the Living Arts Project with Wexford Arts Centre this year. Her work is held in the Public Collections of the EU Ambassador, Kathmandu and Wexford Arts Centre Offices. She is working towards a solo show with Limerick City Museum, 2022.
16. The Pig Yard Gallery
The Pig Yard Gallery at Spectrum, Selskar will host a small group show comprising Bernadette Doolan, Trish Robinson, Nadia Corridan, Hanneke van Ryswyk and Eva O’Donovan.
17. Solo Shows at the Creative Hub
(a) John Busher, showing at the Creative Hub, graduated from NCAD with an MA Art in the Contemporary World in 2015, a Post Grad in 2008, and an Honours Degree in 1999. He has recently completed the Turps Correspondence Course at Turps Art School (London). Forthcoming solo exhibitions include, City Assembly House, The Irish Georgian Society, (2022). Recent solo exhibitions include We Often Forget, The Complex, Dublin (2020), Jostle, Pallas Projects, Dublin (2017), Floorplan, NAG Gallery, Dublin (2015). Selected group exhibitions include SIFT, Wilton Castle, Wexford (2020), Cairde Visual, The Model, Sligo, (2019) Paper Cuts, Saatchi Gallery, London, Curated by Kristian Day, GIFC, 0-0 LA, Los Angeles, Beep Painting Biennial, elysium gallery, Swansea (2018), Impressions Biennial, CCAM, GMIT, Galway, And Creatures Dream… A New Language…, Wexford County Council & Wexford Arts Centre, Wexford (2017), Halftone, The Library Project, Dublin (2016 & 2019), Winter Open, RUA RED, Dublin, and Essays for the House of Memory, Ormston House, Limerick (2014).
(b) Ciaran Bowen, showing at the Creative Hub, has exhibited nationally and internationally: (2021) Playroom-Zaandam Group Show, The Netherlands; (2021) “Yellow Archangel” Lincolnshire, UK; (2021) Without Borders travelling show, Wales, USA, Canada, Japan; (2020) “Beep Painting Biennial” Wales; (2020) Wells Contemporary Somerset; (2019) Cairde Festival, The Model, Sligo and (2018) The Winter Open, RUARED, Dublin.
(c) Oonagh Latchford, showing at the Creative Hub*, was a recipient of an Artlinks bursary in 2018 and a County Wexford Arts Department’s Tyrone Guthrie award, 2014. She was awarded residencies with Living Arts Project 2014, 2106, 2017 and 2018. She works as a facilitator with County Wexford Arts Department Arts Ability programme. Exhibitions include Scéilini in Paint, (solo show), Anita Chan Lai-Ling Gallery, Hong Kong, as part of Irish festival Asia 2018, with support of Culture Ireland. Also Painting is dead- WHO SAYS? group show Kamera 8. Her paintings are held in private and corporate collections within Ireland, Hong Kong, UK and USA. *(This exhibition opens on October 23.)
(d) Showing at the Creative Hub and the Pig Yard Gallery ((5 @ the Pig Yard) Bernadette Doolan has won many awards for her figurative work including several with the Royal Ulster Academy, Belfast, Society Women Artists, London. A self-portrait was shortlisted and exhibited with the Ruth Borchard Portrait Prize, London .Bernadette has exhibited numerous times with The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin and Royal Ulster Academy. In 2019 Bernadette exhibited in Nepal and in 2020 in China and in 2021 exhibited at Art Beijing. Bernadette was invited to exhibit in the Crawford Art Gallery Cork. Her work is held in many public and private collections. Bernadette explores the fragility of identity in the context of childhood through much of her recent work. Her figurative work is the depiction of the human self through exploration of strength and vulnerabilities. While these are depictions of her own self, Bernadette invites the viewer to connect with their memories and experiences through her work.
18. Group shows at the Creative Hub
(a) Anya von Gosseln is a renowned and influential gallerist, curator, art dealer and artists’ representative, who has made an indelible mark in the international art world. Anya is the founder of the Eileen Gray Society and is a dynamic member of the arts community in Co. Wexford, working from an office in the Creative Hub in Wexford town. She has curated a group show in the Creative Hub comprising Maria Levinge, Anne Martin Walsh, Clody Norton, Luke Lacey, Ciaran Bowen, John Power, Oonagh Latchford, Patrick Forlorn, Helen Gaynor, Patrick Redmond, Stephen Nolan, Mirona Mara, John Cullen and Varvara Shinkarenko.
(b) There is a palpable sense of excitement at The Makers House (open Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.), a beautiful gallery space in the Creative Hub, as it prepares to showcase the work of 16 Wexford artists for the 2021 Wexford Arts Festival. They are: Eric de Brún brings a uniquely modern approach to the ancient craft of enamelling – the fusion of glass and metal. Julsuluv creates beautiful handcrafted jewellery and wearable designs inspired by the beauty, properties and stunning colours of precious stones. Three Moon Candles makes beautiful handmade candles with a focus on all things spiritual. Kristin Gray can spend hours waiting for the perfect light, for a bird to fly into the image or the sunlight to cast its light at just the right angle. John Holden is a wildlife and street photographer who has spent countless hours in the van, on boats, on riverbanks, muddy fields and clifftops waiting for the perfect shot. Taking much of her inspiration from the natural world Rebecca Homfray makes fine art prints by hand in limited editions. Pottery is essentially an alchemy and the possibility of change has always excited Patricia Howard. Mara Coastal Creations create environmental art and jewellery, using beachcombed materials. Ann Kenny is a printmaker and illustrator who is excited to present her fabulous new range of hand printed tote bags. Pauline Quigley creates fused glass panels evoking silver birch and warm autumnal shades of shedding leaves. Inspired by the landscape, Mairead Stafford makes ceramic sculpture, wild blossoms vases and bowls filled with a mermaid sea green. Gilly Thomas’ stunning sculpture is unique and made by her in her workshop overlooking green fields where horses and cattle graze.
Guy Urbin is a blacksmith sculptor whose creations combine forged steel and copper. Wild Herb Elixir creates totally natural elixirs, soaps and remedies from their herbal studio on a farm amid the Wexford countryside. Mary Wallace’s paintings are imbued with a light that glows from within, whether it be her Japanese inspired kintsugi bowls with cracks of pure gold, the coastlines series or the dreamy daybreak abstract works and, finally, Island Willow grow their own willow inspired by the beauty of the raw material and the vitality of the plants.
(c) Founder member Ethna Monks’ retrospective owes much to the contemporary blurring of the lines between surreal, fantasy and post-modern real-politik in a flurry of colour, humour and respect for the currency of observational interpretation. In addition to Ethna’s paintings, the most recent art video work of founder members Michael Carty and Michael White – ‘Beginning to End’ (Aspirin Production), with text by founder member Michael Way is looped on the window display monitor. In the studio screening, founder member Colette Donellan’s video ‘Adobe House’ joins ‘Beginning to End’ and three poems by founder member Deirdre Wadding: ‘Grianstad Cois Farraige / ‘Solstice by the Sea’, ‘Guthanna na bPáistí’ / ‘Voices of the Children’ and ‘Nightmare before Sunrise’. Elsewhere there is a video loop of work prepared by Fionn O’Toole for the David Bowie project ‘Secret Life’ and sand sculpture pastiches by Michael White.