Galway Arts Centre – A year in review at No 47
The 2012 visual arts programme for Galway Arts Centre has proved to be a success, running a great selection of critically acclaimed exhibitions show casing emerging, mid career and prolific artists in a variety of mediums to an increasingly wide audience. GAC also held numerous fundraisers, talks and the ever expanding education programme for children, young people and older people in Galway city & county.
Early spring brought Dublin based artist Sonia Shiel’s sculptural exhibition ‘The Man with the Fabulous Tail’ to Galway. The installations were composed of individual paintings and animated sculptures that shared overarching narratives and the central materiality of paint. Shiel’s work pitches mankind’s mighty and small aspirations for a better world against their odds.
Each year Galway Arts Centre takes part in the Bealtaine, a national festival celebrating creativity in older age. GAC’s contribution is Burning Bright, where a number of practicing artists facilitate art classes in nursing units, respite centres and day centres through out Galway City and County. Through a series of workshops and dialogue, the participants create art work that is exhibited in GAC each May. Burning Bright has become a pivotal project for Galway Arts Centre. It is hoped that this can carry on into its 9th year, despite recent cuts and closures in the health sector.
The second major exhibition for the GAC Calendar was Eye of the Storm by Irish artist Siobhan Mc Donald. Eye of The Storm featured a multi disciplined set of investigations and findings that explored the idea of ‘studying nature.’ McDonald employed geology as a language to conceive an understanding of time and our relationship to a constantly evolving environment, juxtaposing new artworks in poetic relation with historical and geological artefacts. The new series of work has been triggered by the recent eruption of the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajokull. The artist has observed this volcano since 2010, and it features in a number of her paintings, projections, sound works and found objects. The exhibition was accompanied by a publication featuring a new text from Tim Robinson.
In July GAC worked with Galway Arts Festival to present ‘Subject to ongoing change’ by The Performance Collective. The group worked with the gallery to deliver 14 days of live improvised performance art. The Performance Collective consists of Michelle Browne, Alex Conway, Pauline Cummins, Frances Mezzetti and Dominic Thorpe who have worked together since 2007.
‘Subject to Ongoing Change’ explored the idea live improvisation and collaboration over time and in the presence of an audience. Each day the group performed for 4 hours, allowing the audience to experience the work at their own pace, and to come and go throughout the duration. The 5 performance artists also performed from dusk until dawn on Sunday 22nd of July from 10pm – 6am. Working with ideas of transformation and metamorphosis, it attracted large numbers including repeat visitors throughout the festival period.
In August GAC presented a celebratory retrospective of Galway based painter Sharon O’Malley entitled ‘Ancient Resonance’ which featured the triumphs of her career spanning over 25 years. Over 50 paintings graced the walls of Galway Arts Centre with works on loan from various public and private collections. The exhibition celebrated O’Malley’s unique way of fusing ancient mythological roots to transform them into modern allegories.
In September GAC exhibited Impressions 2012 Irelands longest running open submission fine art printmaking exhibition. This year’s Impressions had over 300 applicants and produced an exhibition of 100 prints. This year there was a strong emphasis on showcasing emerging artists. Also a first for Impressions was the introduction of 3 dimensional prints including work from the over all winner of Impressions Suzannah O’Reilly.
In collaboration with Baboró International Arts Festival for Children and Abalta Special School, Galway Arts Centre produced SYNC, a multi sensory exhibition aimed specifically at children and young people with autism. SYNC explored how to engage and tell stories with children and people in the gallery space. Teachers, children and young people in Ábalta Special School mentored Elmarie Collins, Daniel Greaney and Sarah O’Brien. The focus while building this exhibition was on interaction and engagement with how artworks are conceived and presented in the gallery. The multi-sensory exhibition proved to be a big hit and was a clam and engaging environment for children and their families. GAC welcomed schools from city and county to explore the exhibition and participate in purposely designed educational workshops for children.
This year Tulca Festival of visual Arts took place in many venues around Galway city, including Galway Arts Centre’s gallery & Nun’s Island Theatre. Derry-based curator Greg McCartney developed the them ‘ What Became of the People We Used to Be?’ and showcased emerging and mid-career Galway based artists alongside international artists, many of whom came to Galway to install and give talks on their work. This year saw the introduction of an education programme for young people and also several guided tours led by NUI Galway students as part of Tulca’s partnership with the university. Despite a cut in funding, Tulca enjoyed larger audiences in 2012, its tenth year of operations. Tulca also commissioned a public art project on behalf of the Galway County Council in Leitir Mealain. International artists Ackroyd and Harvey worked with Galway based artist Ceara Conway on new work which engaged the past and present of residents in the area.
Galway Arts Centre’s final exhibition of the year opened on 7th December. The exhibition, entitled ‘Diabolic Loop’ is a solo exhibition by Irish artist Sarah Browne and is part of the Project Arts Centre on tour initiative. ‘Diabolic Loop’ presents two bodies of work, Second Burial at Le Blanc and Cognitive Radio, which was originally commissioned by Ikon Gallery Birmingham. Browne is best known for representing Ireland at the 53rd Venice Biennale with Galway artist Gareth Kennedy. ‘Diabolic Loop’ continues until 28th January 2013.
2012 also saw an increase in education and outreach activity in Galway Arts Centre. GAC’s youth collective, Red Bird received Youth Ensemble Scheme and Engaging with Architecture awards from the Arts Council. 2012 also saw the completion of their first project as a group, working with Galway based artist Louise Manifold. GAC also worked with St. Paul’s Secondary School in Oughterard, Oughterard Family Resource Centre and Scottish born, Galway based artist Marielle MacLeman on an artists-in-schools programme where Transition Year students worked with pattern, colour and shape to investigate space. Galway Arts Centre also returned to Gort Family Resource Centre for a second time to work with Rotterdam-based artist Ann Maria Healy and a group of women from Gort on a storytelling project entitled ‘Performing Life’, which was funded by the VEC and Create, the national development agency for collaborative arts in social and community contexts.
In 2013 Red Bird will be working with architect and artist Blaithin Quinn on an architectural project entitled ‘Shaping Space’, an experimental investigation into the potential for space in Galway’s West End. The group is currently in post-production with their science fiction film ‘Belong’, which will premiere in Nun’s Island in March 2013. The group will also curate a group exhibition of professional artists’ work in GAC in May 2013.
2013 will also see a solo exhibition from Áine Phillips, focusing on collaboration. GAC is working with NUI Galway Arts Office and Muscailt on a seminar on collaboration, taking place in February. 2013 will close with a group exhibition entitled ‘Contemporary Irish: Neither Here Nor There’. The exhibition is curated by Berlin-based Irish artists Jane Hughes and Enda O’Donoghue and will feature work by Irish artists currently living abroad in order to sustain their practice. GAC’s visual arts department is also collaborating with Cúirt International Festival of Literature on an Education programme as part of the 2013 festival.
Despite increased financial cuts, there is a bigger need than ever for Galway Arts Centre to provide services in Galway City and county, particularly in the areas of education. Audience numbers are growing not only in Galway but in galleries and museums throughout the country.
Winter opening hours: Monday – Friday 10am – 5.30pm, Saturday 10am – 2pm
Galway Arts Centre – A year in review at No 47