Limerick City Gallery of Art reopens with two exhibitions

Limerick City Gallery of Art (LCGA)has officially reopened after 18 months and a €1.7m refurbishment.
Minister for fun, Jimmy Deenihan,did the ribbon cutting yesterday (January 16). I was going to go but then Iremembered that I don’t like art exhibition openings. D’oh! I did, however,have a look around today and the Carnegie Building looked beautiful—inside andout. 
The works include the addition of a new wing and a café space looking onto People’s Park. The expansive windows give the gallery a light and airy feel.I also noticed new bathroom facilities; general modernisation/fixtures and newsignage with a revamped logo. Behind the scenes, there is an educational spaceand a purpose built storage facility to ensure the collection if preserved. The work respected or restored a lot of the amazing period features of the building too.  
The entrance with the new signage.
The building dates back to 1906 andit was a library and museum before it became a home to the city’s municipal artcollection in 1948. The permanent collection now has 800 pieces. The ministersaid LCGA was “one of the key galleries in the country” and play a part in Limerick’smarketing as a city of culture, as well as sport.


There are also changes at the helm.New director/curator, Helen Carey, will be taking over from actingdirector/curator, Pippa Little. Ms Carey was formerly director of the CentreCulturel Irlandais in Paris. The opening also saw the launchof two exhibitions—both of which will run until early March—in the form of AVivid Imagination and Transitive Relationships (more on them below). There was a large range of artwork on display in a mix of media including paintings, video, photography, sculpture and performance art.


It’s lovely to see the gallery openagain and hopefully its visitor numbers will on the up. For all you Limerick people, when was the last time youwent to LCGA, if ever? It’s free AND now there’s a café, that’s the perfectexcuse to go. I took a few snaps today too. I didn’t take the names in mostcases; the photos are only intended to give an idea of the artwork and thespaces.   

The new wing extension 
A Vivid Imagination is where 40 people were invited to select engagingpieces from the gallery’s collection. Most of the selections are accompanied byexplanatory notes by the likes of artist John Shinnors, Minister JanO’Sullivan; several LCGA MA scholars; city librarian, Dolores Doyle etc. It’san eclectic exhibition which makes a vital local connection. There was atremendous sense of ownership from the pieces chosen.

The main exhibition space for A Vivid Imagination. The gorgeous floor and doors really add character.
Limerick, you’re a lady. Local icons- opera singer, Catherine Hayes, after whom the infamous ‘Opera Centre’ is named and ground-breaking novelist, Kate O’Brien.
Bronze sculpture with her hack to People’s Park.
Another unusual piece, highlighted by the spotlight in the new wing.
Transitive Relationships (upstairs) is a contemporary exhibition where nationallyestablished artists, Bea McMahon and Mark O’Kelly, were invited to presenttheir own work and choose the work of three emerging artists. These artistsare: Lucy Andrews, Kevin Kirwan and Magda Marysia Wieckiewicz and Ramon Kassam,Emmet Kierans and Laura McMorrow. The description reads: “Further relationshipshave emerged between the artworks, with threads of interest involvingabjection, sinister undertones and materials poised on a moment of change and aprocess based interest in gathering, saving and selecting implied in some ofthe artworks. Transitive Relationships considers the artists’ engagement withthe surrounding world and the notion that these interactions and process basedinvestigations have a universal element.In mathematics the term notates aseries of equivalent relationships.”

An example of one of the mixed media pieces in the show.
This was probably my favourite piece of what I saw at LCGA today. It’s called ‘The same thing, again and again’ by Emmett Kierans. It’s placed for maximum impact, facing you across the balcony as you walk onto the first floor. It’s cool. I loved the colours and the contrast between the materials-wax on brushed metal. Along with Ramon Kassam’s work, Kierans had some of the stand-out pieces in the exhibition.
The largest exhibition space upstairs with lovely light coming from all the windows.
There is a definite shift from the traditional with the content in this exhibition. No, this ISN’T a hoodie a workman left hanging on a rad; it’s contemporary art. Several other works in this room flummoxed me too. Maybe I’m just a philistine after all…

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