Visual Art Round-Up

Now to the lesser spotted visual arts. There is a lot going on around Limerick and there is a bit of a round-up below.

Brian McMahon/Geraldine Sadlier Exhibition

geraldine-sadlier_brian-mcmahon-exhibition_shannon-rowing-club_limerick_nov20132An exhibition of works by two well-known local artists, Brian McMahon and Geraldine Sadlier, is running in the Shannon Rowing Club on Sarsfield Bridge until November 9. As you can see from the above picture, there are some beautiful depictions and scenes among the display in the historic building.

Occupy Space

Cecil+St.Occupy Space, formerly of Thomas Street, has a new base in No. 9 Lower Cecil Street and later this week, will launch the new project, H-Q, which has been developed with artist, Gemma Gore.

H-Q is a cultural hub offering a platform for the arts in Limerick City. H-Q will provide professional studios for visual artists, an exhibition space for contemporary visual art and bookable project space for art-orms such as music, dance, theatre and literature. H-Q welcomes a diverse range of practices from local, national and international creative practitioners. H-Q is currently forging links with international organisations to develop an artist residency programme for 2014.

Limerick Arts Encounter

Michele Horrigan is curating visual arts at Limerick Arts Encounter and events will feature a selection of emerging artists based locally, nationally and internationally.

Arts_Encounter_Logo_RGB_mediumWhile using the old Belltable, 69 O’Connell Street, as a hub for these events, elements of the programme will also be located throughout the city. Debut solo exhibitions will be presented by two emerging artists, Aaron Lawless and Liz Ryan and two group exhibitions entitled Detonate and Undercover: A Dialect (part 2) will explore ideas of artistic process, each accompanied by public talks and events. A day-long symposium will feature national and international contributors, discussing the methods artists can now engage with new audiences and question the condition that art can exist in the public realm today.

The first exhibition, Detonate, will run until November 22.

Limerick City Gallery of Art

There are four distinct exhibitions running in LCGA until Dec 23. They are: Upending; Antennae; I go to seek a Great Perhaps and Difference Engine: Accumulator III.

Upending – an exhibition of enquiries presents new work by artists Kennedy Browne, Anthony Haughey, Anna Macleod, Augustine O’Donoghue, Susan Thomson and Bryonie Reid. The exhibition results from the artists’ participation in a year-long mobile think tank entitled Troubling Ireland which took place in 2010/11, commissioned by Fire Station Artists’ Studios and led by the Danish curatorial collective, Kuratorisk Aktion. Two years later, the artists were commissioned by Fire Station Artists Studios, in partnership with LCGA and directed by Think Tank participant, Helen Carey, to present new work in exhibition, which trouble Ireland from a wide variety of perspectives: addressing themes of sustainable energy, labour and loss in recessionary times, real and tourist approaches to Ireland, border identities, homophobia and its colonial legacy, and the landscape, both mental and physical, around the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland.

To complement this exhibition, there will be a symposium on ‘Art and Responsibility’ at LCGA on November 12 from 11am-4.15 pm. It will be run by Fire Station Artists’ Studios in partnership with LCGA and speakers include Galit Eilat; Tone Olaf Nielsen and Frederikke Hansen. There will also be contributions from Liz Burns; Helen Carey and a panel discussion with the artists presented in the exhibition. Admission is free. Booking necessary by calling 061-310633 or emailing

Difference Engine: Accumulator III is an evolving touring exhibition, a model of autonomous artist curation, by artists Mark Cullen, Wendy Judge Gillian Lawler and Jessica Foley, featuring Gordon Cheung, whose works infiltrate the grouping with the Portrait of Charles Babbage, the early founder of what was to become the ‘computer’. Cheung’s work is the only piece that is a constant through Difference Engine’s ensemble installations. For Limerick City Gallery of Art, Difference Engine bring existing work, but they also work with the spaces to make something that is particular to LCGA – theirs is a collaborative practice that is highly individual – an ambiguity that works for each artist, for each place and yet has a distinct character.

antennae_lowAlso on show is Antennae by David Beattie, which is in collaboration with Ormston House. LCGA in partnership with the Patrick Street gallery and collective, present Bring in the Noise, curated by Mary Cremin. The exhibition focuses on artists whose practice engage with and appropriate technology creating assemblages and installations. To complement this exhibition, David Beattie’s work presented in LCGA focuses on the experimental nature of his work, his methodology combines factors of low fidelity sound, organic movements, space, and the field of physics, introducing unlikely materials to gather and produce a set of object inter-relationships, keeping in mind their aesthetic dominance as well as distance.

At Ormston House, there is more work by Laura Buckley and Alexander Gutke in the same vein. More information at

I go to seek a Great Perhaps is drawn from the LCGA permanent collection. This exhibition, curated by Shinnors Scholar, Aoibheann McCarthy, is drawn from the Permanent Collection, using the methodology of involving the general public, in this case seven young adults who have been involved with LCGA in other projects. Through six sessions, the selection was made, and the resulting exhibition reflects an examination of issues and aspects of life pertinent to young people, such as environment, politics, relationships and ‘being’ in a rural context, as well as thinking about what the future holds for them in 21st century Ireland. The selection includes works by Mary Swanzy, Janet Mullarney, and Sean Keating alongside more contemporary works by artists such as Gavin Hogg, Donald Teskey and Siobhan Piercy.

538497_272197052865558_1713379594_neva International 2014
Ireland’s biennial of contemporary art will take place from April 12- July 6 next year. The 12-week programme of exhibitions and events taking place across Limerick City will be curated by Bassam El Baroni. Since being founded in 1977, eva International has worked with the world’s leading artists and curators, bringing outstanding exhibitions to diverse audiences.

Local graffiti

Walking around town these days, there seems to be colourful and intricate urban art springing up everywhere.

I’ve been taken to task about my praise for cool graffiti in the past. Generally people split into two groups—staunch NIMBYs (‘Not in my back yard!’) and people who really like it. I don’t agree with vandalising private property or artless tagging but I think we have some of the best graffiti in Ireland, if not the best. This is largely thanks to the Make a Move Festival but also talented artists in the locality. It adds a bit colour to a lot of derelict and drab spaces. Check out this page to get a taste of what’s around:

Graffiti 1

Graffiti Photo Essay: Part 2

I’ll start with examples in Limerick…

This was taken in late 2009 in a vacant lot in the Dock Road literally covered in graffiti. The next few photos were either taken of the inside walls or the external walls. I presume the lot is still there but the graffiti might have changed since!

Munster and Ireland stars, Paul O’Connell and Ronan O’Gara. This was done by All Out (; you can hire them to do murals and there are several examples around Limerick. The taxi rank in Davis Street has a few more Munster players on its walls etc.
This photo and the one below were also taken in 2009 at the skate park down in Mount Kennett, by the river. The building is Riverpoint.
This photo is more recent, March this year. Do chalk drawings even count as graffiti? There were a lot of them around earlier in the year going up Mulgrave Street (there’s one there now; another statistic on a boarded up window across from the fire station. I wonder is some artist/art student doing it as an installation or some person just drawing because they’re bored). Anyway, I took the photo because it stood out in its randomness. The text is “75 million birds die each year in road related accidents”. The wing could be a representation of a chalk outline of a dead bird…maybe!

Taken on the same day in March, down in Mallow Street. It looks like a stencil, done with a roller. I like the vivid colour on the white wall.
This is the bridge behind Ceannt Station in Galway in March 2009. The graffito word is “TRUE”. I just liked it, especially as it was right in the centre of the photo and it was gone the last time I checked. 

And now to some examples abroad…

This psychedelic shot was taken in Amsterdam last summer. I was on a moving boat at the time so it’s not as clear as I wanted.
This is the side of a building in Nantes, France in 2009. It is the birthplace the of subject, Jules Verne, who wrote the book Around the World in 80 Days. I’d say it’s a mural rather than graffiti but I can’t be sure; it’s a little spoiled by rubbish graffiti up the top left. The next few images are also from Nantes, much of it in little alleys and back streets. There are lots of graffiti around France (and Spain). I spent a good few hours on trains while travelling in both places and it’s very prevalent but not always good!
This is really cool and unfortunately some eejit has sprayed a blue tag all over it.
The words mean “Either with or without you”.
Is this defacement or tribute? This is graffiti from the grave of  famous writer, Oscar Wilde, at the most visited graveyard in the world, Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. The black writing is a famous quote of his…the white text is not *lol* Wilde’s grave is literally covered in graffiti. Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, and a load of French dignitaries are also buried here. Morrison’s grave is cordoned off. I think Oscar’s should be too, and maybe sandblasted!
This photo was taken on top of a hill in Sete, in the south of France. It’s on the bottom of a big broadcasting tower. The black stencilling seems to be done over previous colourful tags/lettering. I especially like the woman with the shopping trolley. I’m not sure what the words mean; ‘paroles’ is words or speech; ‘jamais’ is never and ‘pardonner’ is to forgive; ‘rigole’ is channel…and I still can’t speak French after five years ‘learning’ it in school!

Graffiti photo essay: Part 1

I’ve been meaning to do a post about graffiti for a while. The word “graffito” is an archaeological term meaning “an ancient drawing or writing scratched on a wall or other surface”; graffitiis the plural. So the cavemen were the first graffiti artists!
In modern day, ithas come to mean markings, as initials, slogans, or drawings, written, spray-painted, or sketched on a sidewalk, wall of a building or public restroom, or the like”. It still has associations withdeviancy, delinquency and pointless defacement of property. But yet, it isincreasingly regarded as urban art with its legitimacy cemented by artists suchas Banksy—whose work is displayed in galleries and sold at auction, whilesimultaneously being sold in mass produced form as posters and t-shirts etc. Nowwhat was once a subculture (like tattoos) has become mainstream. This blurringthe boundaries between high and low culture is a semiotician’s wet dream.    


I have a love/hate relationship with graffiti. I really likephotographing it and feel that when executed well, it holds its own againstother types of visual art. The good kind tends to be colourful—literally or inits tone; edgy and often humorous or political. The bad kind is ugly and crap! I did a newspaper article before on it and even a local graffitiartist condemned bad quality graffiti and wanton defacement of property. Several councillors agreed that people are entitled to expressthemselves artistically through the medium of graffiti but there is a time anda place. Cllr Kathleen Leddin suggested that there be designated walls/areasfor it, as is the case in other European countries. I’d be in favour of that. As always, I welcome other opinions…but only if you agree with mine 😉 
I was out taking photos in Limerick yesterday morning so I did a small photo essay of the good, the bad and the ugly graffiti. I’ll do another post with graffiti photos taken locally and abroad after this…
The good…
I love these ones, which are made from stencils. Famousgraphic artists who use stencils include the aforementioned, Banksy, and BlekLe Rat. There are a few images dotted around town but there’s Little CatherineStreet has a cluster, particularly in Limerick Lane.The detail in some of these is just excellent and ‘Hatch 22’ was sprayed by some so I presume that is thealias of the group or artist who did them (If anyone knows, I’d like tointerview Limerick’s answer to Banksy).  

The bad and the ugly…
I especially hate when people write really stupid things and,worse, on something that cost lots of money to restore/build. Bad spelling/personalabuse is another common feature with graffiti. These two examples are both inPeople’s Park and I presume drawn by the same idiot, although they do travel inpacks. A few years back, there were quite a few ‘F**k da police’ graffitiaround town. Gardaí don’t have an existential crisis or break down and cry ifthey catch sight of this clever slogan so it’s a total waste of time! One example of this new variation is on the RichardRussell Fountain—beautifully restored by Limerick Civic Trust at an estimatedcost of €100,000. The other is on the new addition to Limerick City Gallery ofArt and the Access II grant given for that refurbishment alone was nearly €1million. Granted, the clean-up cost should be small but it’s the principle ofit!! Also, for once I’d like to go to a toilet in a public place and not haveto read inane rubbish scribbled on the cubicle walls. Something you write whenyou’re peeing/drunk is NEVER profound!
The example below reminds me of the time when the shiny, newgarage door at home was defaced with permanent marker by some local teenagershanging around outside. Some of these bright sparks daubed their full names onit! So my father knocked on one of their doors and the girl’s angry parentsmade her scrub it all off. There’s a moral here…and how many people can therebe christened ‘Shanice McSomething’ around the place?! There is another phenomenon in this example—poor graffiti‘tagging’. Tagging is a graffiti signature so in the same way an artist signs apainting, graffiti artists sign their work. Where’s the amazing mural you ask?There isn’t one; someone just spray-painted their name/something illegible on awall. Warning: Genius at work! Limerick has had itsproblems with this before, local press articles here and here.