Catch The Enclave before May 5!

438872188_640‘Enclave': A portion of territory surrounded by a larger territory whose inhabitants are culturally or ethnically distinct. A place or group that is different in character from those surrounding it.

I encourage anyone who hasn’t been yet to catch the exhibition, The Enclave, by Richard Mosse before it finishes up in Limerick this Bank Holiday Monday, May 5. It is in two parts—the photographs in a building in Rutland Street (opposite and down a bit from the Hunt Museum) and the multiple screen film in Ormston House in Patrick Street. I gather they should be viewed in the order: photos and then, film.

Now, I want to preface this by saying that I’m no expert on this mod-ren art craic. Sometimes, I genuinely can’t make any sense of pieces in exhibitions. It’s very much like: “A plastic bag under a marble slab beside some fishing line connected to a 2 x 4 plank…What the f**k is this?!” It reminds me of a news item I saw recently where a cleaner at a gallery had binned part of an exhibit by mistake. Well, the piece did include “cookie pieces scattered across the floor”. Easy mistake! This kind of thing has happened at least twice before. I once saw a jacket hung on a radiator in a gallery and wondered was it art or storage. I would just like to point out at this juncture, that I’ve seen many pieces of art I did appreciate.

From my untrained point of view, The Enclave is appropriately named. It is wholly “different in character from those surrounding it”. It is the result of a three year exploration of the conflicted landscape of the Democratic Republic of Congo by the artist.

War and peace, order and chaos, living and dying…all human life is here

Firstly, the look of the photos and footage is unlike anything I’ve seen before; it uses a discontinued military reconnaissance film originally designed for camouflage detection but which registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light. The effect is a psychedelic, ethereal colour-palette. Everything is displayed in shockingly vivid hues and the beauty of the landscape, in particular, jumps off the wall and screen.

The film literally surrounds you. You step into complete darkness and it encloses you with a combination of the multiple screens, a haunting musical score and ambient sound recordings. The words “it grabbed me” don’t do it justice. Unless you’re made of stone, it reaches into you and takes hold.

1.south masisiThe phrase “emotional rollercoaster” is a bit hackneyed at this stage but The Enclave is fast and shocking and exhilarating and sickening and a hundred other things. The way it’s shot, with a steadicam, makes it seem as if you are walking through the landscape and villages and bearing witness to the beautiful and horrifying things too.

The stark contrast between all the things it is at once is both the best and worst thing about the exhibition: war and peace, order and chaos, living and dying…all human life is here.

I’m going to stop writing before I lapse completely into nonsense (or have I already? You decide). Just go and see The Enclave. It’s amazing. It reminded me why I still risk going to contemporary visual art exhibitions, lest I experience some kind of Falling Down style outburst. Picasso once said that art “washes away the dust of everyday life” (not literally, Italian cleaner). I really believe that. For all the dross and abstract that you find on show, there is no real way to sweep all traces of this particular exhibition away. It stays with you.

The Enclave was chosen as Ireland’s representative at the Venice Art Biennale 2013, the world’s foremost art event, so kudos to the team at Ormston House and City of Culture for bringing it here and executing it so well. The opening hours have been extended: Thursday 12-7pm; Friday 12-6pm; Saturday 12-6pm; Sunday 12-6pm and Monday 12-6pm. Admission is free.

What’s goin’ on in Limerick? May 1 to May 7

There are plenty of things to see and do in lovely Limerick this week and into the Bank Holiday weekend. You can take your pick from music gigs, plays, films, art exhibitions, literary events, sports and good clean family fun. I’ll go through the events I know of day by day…

Tuesday: Tonight (Tuesday May 1), the Belltable Cine-Club will show Margaret, starring Anna Paquin, Jean Reno and Mark Ruffalo at 8pm. The blurb sounds interesting and it has indie street cred; One day, Lisa walks beside a bus whose driver wears a hat she covets. Their flirting leads him to make a mistake and kill a pedestrian (Allison Janney), who dies in Lisa’s arms. It resonates with loss felt deeply by New Yorkers in the shadow of 9/11 and for Lisa, it inspires a crusade to connect and pursue justice. Tickets: €8.50/6.50 from 061-319866 or

Wednesday: On Wednesday May 2, as part of the Bealtaine Festival there will be a free ‘Silver Screening’ as part of the Cine-Club at 12.30pm. My house in Umbria stars Maggie Smith, Ronnie Barker and Chris Cooper. Adapted from William Trevor’s novella of the same name, the film stars Dame Maggie Smith in an Emmy-winning role as Mrs. Emily Delahunty, a British romance novelist living in Italy. While on a shopping trip, she barely survives a terrorist train bombing. Though she recovers well, three others still bear profound physical and emotional wounds. Mrs. Delahunty invites her fellow survivors to recuperate at her lavish estate.

Later on that evening at 8pm, Transition Year students from Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh present the Brian Friel play, Dancing at Lughnasa. It will run for two nights with a different cast each night. Tickets are €10. The visual art exhibition Spiders from Mars continues in the Belltable gallery space until mid May.

Also on Wednesday, the Limerick Writers’ Centre will present An evening with literary agent Jo Unwin from 7-8.30pm. The London literary agent will give a talk to writers about what an agent does, finding an agent and navigating the publishing industry. The talk takes place at their base at 12 Barrington Street. The evening is free of charge but people are asked to notify LWC if attending because space is limited. Further details from or 087 2996409.

The White House Poetry Revival will take place as usual from 9.30pm with a guest reader and an open-mic session to follow. Finally, Limerick Jazz will present Duo Èlegance at Dolan’s Upstairs at 9.15pm. This is a collaboration between David Friedman on vibes and Peter Weniger on tenor sax. The blurb notes that they “have developed a kind of intuitive and interactive sense and a love for spontaneous music making.  As a result they decided to go into the studio without any preparation or preconceived concepts. They used compositions drawn from the great American songbook as a kind of loose framework and turned these pieces into on the spot, intimate musical landscapes”. Tickets are €13/10. See more details on this and other events on

On Thursday May 3, the inaugural LIT Music Festival starts. Student bands will be playing in the theatre all day, students doing sound and lights for the event;, panel discussion with IMRO, IRMA, PPI and RAAP; student albums and installations on display in the foyer. Kicking off at 10am with Macronite, the acts in sequence are: Spud with Seán Geraghty; Asia Awaits; Neev Kennedy; Ergot Fire and LIT House Band- In C. The Copyright Licensing Panel runs from 2-4pm. At 4pm, music will resume with the LIT House Band with Sarah Thompson; Leading Armies; Animal Beats and Macronite until the finish at 8pm. Don Simms and Eoin Greaney will provide fill ins between acts throughout the day.

The brilliant David Kitt will play Thursday Nights @ Bourke’s Bar on May 3. The gig series is six months old next week and continues to impress with the calibre of the acts with Jape also due to play on May 10. Admission is free and doors open at 9pm.

The latest exhibition at Ormston House on Patrick Street, Dogs, also starts on May 3 at 6-8pm. It will run until May 26. It is curated by Rachael Corcoran as a SOMA Contemporary Project and brings together twelve artists, influenced, inspired and intrigued by the canine animal. Artists featured are: Adrian McGrath; Ben Reilly; Bridget O’Gorman; Cassie Kirby; Christian Jankowski; Isabel Nolan; Magnhild Opdøl; Michael Beirne; Michael Durand; Rachael Corcoran; TINKEBELL and Vanessa Donoso-Lopez. More information on and

Weekend: Riverfest—an annual May Bank Holiday fixture for the city—kicks off on Friday with a wide selection of events. There will be a free tour of Irish paintings in the Hunt Museum with docent, David McBurne from 2-3pm. The Occupy Space exhibition, The Wood between the Worlds, is of works using paper as a material and is curated by Noelle Collins.

C: INSIDE is on, which means art spaces are open to the public. These include Contact Studios, Faber Studios, Limerick Printmakers Studio & Gallery, Raggle Taggle Studios and Wickham Street Studios. More information at Firm favourites, The Saw Doctors, play a ‘Big Top’ gig in the Milk Market on Friday night. Tickets are €23 and available from

A big arts highlight of the weekend is 24 Hour Theatre, where a group of up to 60 theatre practitioners will come together to produce four short plays at 10am on Friday and this will culminate in a performance of the plays at 7pm on Saturday. On Friday, the Daghdha Space on John Square is open for anyone to drop in for a coffee to watch the process from noon to 9pm. Tickets for the performance on Saturday 5 are €10. Bookings on 086-1086767. I will go into more detail in a separate post.

The University of Limerick Orchestra will perform a 20th Anniversary Prom Concert at the University Concert Hall at 8pm on Saturday. Tickets are €15 and for information see DJ Christian Smith is spinning at a club night in Dolans Warehouse from 10pm on Saturday.

There will be a continental market running on Michael Street from Saturday to Monday and other events include a BBQ competition, water sports, holistic activities in city parks i.e. Tai Chi and laughter yoga and all sorts of family fun. There will be a big fireworks display on the river on Saturday night. Munster V Ulster in the Rabodirect Pro 12 is on at Thomond Park on Saturday. The Great Limerick Run (marathon/half-marathon and six mile options) is on Sunday. A complete guide to events is available at

So now, I’ve probably forgotten about some things so if nothing here takes your fancy, you’re damn hard to please! Check the local press and for more.

New gallery, Ormston House, launches exhibition/calls for submissions

There is yet another new gallery in Limerick—further testament to the vibrant arts scene in the city. In August 2011, Ormston House (9-10 Patrick Street) launched its visual art programme in a 2,100 square foot dedicated exhibition space.

Supported by the Creative Limerick initiative, the gallery will devise and deliver an experimental programme of multidisciplinary exhibitions and events, and develop a series of research-based and archival projects. A key focus is to support artistic, curatorial and design practices, as well as a writer-in-residence scheme, through access to studios, a reference library, professional development workshops, peer discussion groups and networking events.

I was at an LCGA event there recently—a fascinating talk/conversation with the famous artist, Brian O’Doherty (AKA Patrick Ireland) ahead of the launch of his exhibition at Dublin Contemporary. I gather the former shop unit used to be a gallery so the transformation and use is fitting. Creative Limerick is a scheme that gives unoccupied retail spaces a new purpose by facilitating their use for artistic endeavours of all types. It’s a great scheme and Limerick is a trailblazer in harnessing that potential in Ireland. Kudos to the local authority, city arts officer, Sheila Deegan and the Creative Limerick team. To paraphrase Father Ted, they’re “a great bunch of lads”!

The interesting press release also adds: “Operating under a licensed agreement, Ormston House acknowledges the circumstances and conditions of its existence and challenges the notion that art remains a ‘tolerated enclosure within the global capital in which non-productive, dysfunctional and pointless experimentation can still take place’. The purpose of this initiative is not to smooth over or aestheticise the economic difficulties facing the city until further notice, but to make a genuine contribution to the city’s cultural fabric and to create new working platforms for creative practitioners.”

Two things coming up at Ormston House Gallery…

There will be a preview of its new exhibition, Monkey Wrench, this Thursday, October 27 from 6 to 8pm. It brings together work by Kevin Cosgrove, Sonia Shiel and Keef Winter and will run from October 28 to November 26.

“Was the monkey wrench named after London blacksmith Charles Moncke or was it indeed invented by an industrious monkey? Either way the tools with which we work are inextricably linked with who we are” is the show’s premise.

“Within distinct conceptual frameworks, the artists negotiate the stuff of work – the physicality and aesthetic potential of their materials – with stylistic variety and analytic consistency. In doing so, they re-energise the recently reopened site at 9-10 Patrick Street as a useful workspace through playful interventions of cardboard machines, ‘handyman’ constructions and finely tuned paintings of the labourer’s workshop. Ormston House encourages an open dialogue with the artworks presenting an ambivalent exhibition of the epic and the shambolic, the strange and the everyday, upholding the saying that making is thinking. After a period of extended closure, the gallery proposes itself as a nexus for discussion on the critical issues that are affecting the people and the city, supporting the contributions that artists bring to the conversation.”

Call for submissions
Ormston House Gallery is inviting artists to submit proposals for the inaugural members’ exhibition, co-curated by Alice Maher and Aideen Barry. The deadline is Friday November 11 at 5pm; Applications to Submission requirements: Artist’s CV; short biography (200 words max.); work statement (500 words max., please include any specific installation requirements) and 3 x jpg images or 1 x mov file. Submissions should be no larger than 10MB and membership is a steal at €10 per year. For full details, please contact