Week 10: Artworks – John Behan, Omin and Peter Jay

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Session 5: Ardee Community College

Session 5: Coláiste Chú Chulainn

We began by looking at John BehanBullflight, Bronze, 2012. The group looked very closely at the sculpture and we discussed the techniques used in casting in bronze. How it was made in clay or wax first before being brought to the foundry to be cast in bronze. One group had previously taken casts and moulds of their hands in plaster and so were familiar with the casting process. Both groups were familiar with the story of The Táin and the Brown Bull of Cooley and its local context and were also familiar with Omin/ Barry Finnegan’s graffiti mural in the Market Square but had not looked at it in detail before.

I gave the background story as to how this artwork had been purchased by Louth County Collection. The story goes back 40 years – John Behan had been commissioned by a local patron to create a series of relief bronze sculptures which were displayed in the Metropole Hotel. These were donated to Dundalk Town Council in 1983 and were installed on the facade of the tourist office in Market Square, Dundalk. In 2011 the square was redeveloped and in consultation with the architects and street furniture designers the artworks were restored and re-instated in specially commisioned glass case as a main feature in the square. To celebrate this re-instatement of John Behan’s sculptures the artist was invited to present a solo exhibition of his work at the Basement Gallery, Dundalk. Bull Fight was purchased from this exhibition.

And then to continue the circularity of the story – local artist Barry Finnegan/ Omin was commissioned to respond to the theme of the Táin on the wall of the tourist office. So side by side on the Market Square you have two very different artist – one using very traditional materials and techniques and one using the most contemporary materials and techniques of graffiti art. We discussed how graffiti is usually seen as illegal, protest and outside of the official artworld.

We also looked at Peter Jay’s painting – Blue Murmur of the Hills as a more traditional representation of the local landscape but through looking at his technique and painting process decided this was a more about capturing an experience of the landscape, capturing the light moving across the landscape – maybe capturing a memory of the landscape rather than a straightforward depiction of the countryside.

 

 

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Week 10: Artworks: Dara O’Neill, Gee Vaucher and Robert Kelly

Session 10: Sacred Heart S.S, Drogheda

Session 4: St.Mary’s College, Dundalk

Dara O'Neill, Water tower at Mornington Beach

Dara O’Neill, Water tower at Mornington Beach

The 5th Year Class had looked at The Collection online on the Create Louth website and had requested a selection of print and drawing artworks that they wanted to view in the classroom. We began with Dara O’Neill, Watchtower at Mornington Beach, Pencil drawing, watercolour on silk, organza and watercolour paper. The students were intrigued by the image and how it was built up in layers of material – some parts in washes with loose brushwork and then overlaid with pencil drawing. We discussed how the image was offset – not lined up exactly on top of each other and so created an atmospheric blurry image. The artist was influenced by a trip to Japan where she had looked at calligraphy work and the brushwork and writing of Japanese artists. She has combined these techniques with influences of her local landscape in Louth and her training as a textile artist. She uses materials in a non-traditional manner – sometimes using stitching as her pencil. I explained how our interpretation of drawing can be quite narrow as observational sketches rather than as mark making and expressive.

Gee Vaucher - Three Peace Sweet

Gee Vaucher – Three Peace Sweet

Gee Vaucher, Three Peace Sweet, Giclee Print on paper. Both groups liked the humour in this piece and put the sitting as possibly on a train or some gangster. One group thought it was cartoon like and maybe taken from a sequence of images. Part of a story. Gee Vaucher is part of a punk band emerging in the second wave of punk in 1970s Britain. The group welcomed all creatives – film makers, artist, musicians, cooks, gardeners and set up a creative house called Dial House. In her work she combines painting an collage and the themes in her work concern fear, injustice and the mediocrity that pervade society. People caught in the firing line of things negative to life. One suggested that the peace false may be an anti-war comment in an unexpected setting. Gee creates artworks for the bands album covers and posters.

With Robert Kelly‘s work – Song of Amergin II, Soap ground etching, Edition 1/20. I explained the technique of etching – using a metal plate which is etched into using a sharp point drawn into the wax covered plate which is then steeped in acid to create an indent which can then be printed from. Robert Kelly uses a sugar soap etching technique so he can achieve more painterly marks and brushstrokes. His practice is process based – he experiments with techniques and processes allowing an image or composition to emerge. It is abstract and explores the positive and negative in his marks. This series of print was created in response to a curated exhibition on the theme of The Song of Amergin.

Gee Vaucher short interview: https://vimeo.com/68214543

Robert Kelly at Black Church Print Studio:

 http://www.print.ie/detail.php?category_id=3&id=294

 

 

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Week 9: Artworks – John Behan, Omin and Peter Jay

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Session 3: St.Mary’s College, Dundalk

We began by looking at John BehanBullflight, Bronze, 2012. I gave the background story as to how this artwork had been purchased by Louth County Collection. The story goes back 40 years – John Behan had been commisioned by a local patron to create a series of relief bronze sculptures which were displayed in the Metropole Hotel. These were donated to Dundalk Town Council in 1983 and were installed on the facade of the tourist office in Market Square, Dundalk. In 2011 the square was redeveloped and in consultation with the architects and street furniture designers the artworks were restored and re-instated in specially commisioned glass case as a main feature in the square. To celebrate this re-instatement of John Behan’s sculptures the artist was invited to present a solo exhibition of his work at the Basement Gallery, Dundalk. Bull Fight was purchased from this exhibition.

And then to continue the circularity of the story – local artist Barry Finnegan/ Omin was commissioned to respond to the theme of the Táin on the wall of the tourist office. So side by side on the Market Square you have two very different artist – one using very traditional materials and techniques and one using the most contemporary materials and techniques of graffiti art.

The class group were familiar with the sculpture in the Market Square and the mural so it was an interesting discussion around the commissioning of public artworks and art in public spaces. I showed some images of Banksy’s recent work at the refugee camp in Calais to explore the impact and distribution of his work through social media. We also had a very quick look at the Peter Jay‘s painting – Blue Murmur of the Hills.

Peter Jay - Blue Murmur of the Hills

Peter Jay – Blue Murmur of the Hills

 

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Week 9: Artworks – Rosemary Warren, Peter Jay and James Hayes

Session 9: Sacred Heart S.S, Drogheda

The students had spent one of their art history sessions during the week looking at the Create Louth website and selected work by artists they wished to see in the classroom. So this week we looked at Still Life in Purple by Rosemary Warren, Blue Murmur of the Hills by Peter Jay and Primary Colours: Red, Yellow and Blue by James Hayes.

Warren-Rosemary-2002-Still-Life-in-Purple

Rosemary Warren – Still Life in Purple

Beginning with the still life we focused on looking at the watercolour technique, the use of colours and the strong composition set up in the painting through the use of line, shape form and complimentary colours. Rosemary in her work focuses on the play of light and the reflection of light and changing light in nature, selecting landscapes and objects from her immediate environment. Here is a link to a short interview and studio visit with Rosemary: https://youtu.be/Bzf8u6HleOY

Peter Jay - Blue Murmur of the Hills

Peter Jay – Blue Murmur of the Hills

With Peter Jay’s landscape we discussed his cool palette of colour and how his technique builds up the painting as a pattern maybe trying to capture the feeling, emotion and sound of the landscape rather than a straight forward observational landscape painting.

The small scale sculptural work of James Hayes prompted discussion around his use of mixed media, small scale and the symbolism of the chair to represent a person, maybe the viewer or the artist? Primary colours selected maybe to represent childhood? Were they representing seasons or memories? James works in a variety of materials from large scale to very small scale models as with this Tableau series. He experiments with printing photographs onto different materials as with this piece onto glass,metal and paper.

More information and images of the artists’ work on the Create Louth website here:

http://www.createlouth.ie/collection/

 

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Week 9: Artist Visit – Cara Thorpe at Ardee Community College

This week the Dublin based artist Cara Thorpe presented an artist talk to 5th Year Students at Ardee Community College (Group 2). In Week 1 we had looked briefly at her two pieces in the Louth County Council Collection – The Strategists and Underwood.

Cara began her slide talk by talking about how her career as an artist developed. She had gone to college and studied display design so as she felt she could make a commercial job from her creative work. But following working in Moscow for a year she made the decision to commit to being a fine artist. Returning to cllege as a mature student she completed a Fine Art Degree in Painting at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin. She then co-founded a group studio in Dublin with a number of other artists and began exhibiting in group exhibitions.

Cara Thorpe_Artist Visit_Ardee Community College

Cara Thorpe_Artist Visit_Ardee Community College

Cara’s work was heavily influenced by images, newspapers, magazines that she had collected in Moscow and these images permeated into her paintings. Time spent in Spain was also influential in the development of her work in looking at the graffiti covered crumbling walls. She explained her technique of working on MDF boards building up layers of acrylic paints which she then sands back using a power sander and hand sanding to reveal layers of paint underneath. Boards can be worked on over a number of years, discarded and then reworked as an image or surface effect emerges – she showed the group some boards in progress and some stencils she has used to explain the technique. The artist works on 20 boards at any one time – all at different stages of development and completion. As images suggest themselves the artist refers to her archive of images and makes a stencil of an image. She then applies the image using flat areas of colour which is then in turn sanded back and reworked using a variety of tools and textures.

The imagery in her work ranges from abandoned buildings, forests, outer space, snow scenes, fighter planes, natural and man made environments depicted as solitary spaces. Cara strives for “an atmosphere, colour and marks detervine what the painting is about. The more you leave the painting open, the more likely it will suggest itself to you, so the painting retains its spontaneity”.

Cara Thorpe is represented by the Cross Gallery in Dublin. Further information on her work here:

Cara Thorpe: http://www.crossgallery.ie/index.php/artists/cara-thorpe/

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Week 8: Artist Visit – Paul MacCormaic at Coláiste Chú Chulainn, Dundalk

Session 3: Coláiste Chú Chulainn, Dundalk

Artist Paul MacCormaic gave a really interesting presentation to the After Schools Art Club at Coláiste Chú Chulainn this week. The artist began by looking in detail at his painting The Ambassadors (Double Portrait of Alanna Audley-Murphy and Katie Taylor). It commemorates the history-making bout between the two girls on Hallowe’en 2001, as the first females to box under the auspices of the IABA. Paul directly makes reference in style and composition to The Ambassadors by the artist Hans Holbein.

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In his work Paul is inspired by the world around him – stories in the newspaper, politics, religion, history, contemporary society and art history and uses these themes to give a satirical and ironic portrayal of life around us. He works in oil and acrylic paints and explained the techniques used to achieve the texture of fabric, wood and the softness of flesh in figures in his paintings. He collects images from newspapers and magazines that may become the starting point of a painting or if he has an idea for a painting will refer to his archive of images to work from. The image is then projected onto the canvas and the artist draws the image and plots in areas of flat colour using acrylic to build up the painting. Paul explains who how he works in series of paintings on a particular theme. These series are developed over years and added to over time. A really interesting presentation with lots of information on themes, subject matter and technique.

Link to the artist work here:

Paul Mac Cormaic: http://paulmaccormaic.weebly.com/

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Week 8: Artist Visit – Frances Lambe at St.Mary’s College, Dundalk

Session 2: St.Mary’s College, Dundalk

Sculptor Frances Lambe gave a great presentation to the 5th and 6th Year group this week. beginning with What do I do? Where did I begin? and Where do I exhibit? Frances gave a really great overview of her practice with images showing her early beginnings as a child – trying to ski on grass on a sunny day, her father’s influence as an art teacher and his conviction that art enhances the quality of life. Her broad ranging influences from nature, natural history, marine biology, myth, history, science and geography, the impact of place and making sense of place. Frances explained how she takes inspiration from all these (like ingredients in making a cake) and attempts to distill them into artworks. Drawing is at the heart of her practice.

Her forms are balance simple forms with intricate surface detail. She described the creative process of working with the clay building up like coil pots to resolve the form which after initial firing she sands back to her desired surface and works back into to create the surface detail. The images that influence her are echoed very clearly through the sculptures which she had brought with her to show the group. She discussed the technical processes of working with different coloured clays and of firing the work. And how work can break in the kiln but  how she uses these “failures” to learn and discover solutions for the next works.

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Frances explained the development of her career from setting up Bridge Street Studios – an artist group studio in Dundalk – where two of the students had recently done work experience. Here studio is now based at home. She exhibits with the Oliver Sears Gallery in Dublin and nationally and internationally in selected curated exhibitions. This is where a Curator will devise and curate exhibition based on a selected theme or concept and invite artist to create and exhibit work in response to this theme. A really inspiring and interesting presentation!

Link to the artist work here:

Frances Lambe:                        http://www.franceslambe.com/

Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin: http://www.oliversearsgallery.com/

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