Friday 24 May 2019

My cultural life: Gerard Byrne, artist

Gerard Byrne
Gerard Byrne
Victorian glasshouse

Gerard Byrne is one of 1,000 artists contributing work to Incognito, a secret sale of 2,600 original artworks for Jack & Jill, each costing €50 but the twist is that no one will know the identity of the artist until after they buy the art. The pieces can be viewed on ahead of the second sale day at the Lavit Gallery Cork from May 17-18. Gerard was born in Finglas, one of six children, to Kathleen and Brendan. Now in their late 80s, they are still a huge support to him. They bought him his first set of oil paints at the age of seven - but the challenges for him as a child in the 1960s with severe dyslexia were too much, and at 14 he escaped the educational system. He qualified as an electrician and worked for Irish Lights, the lighthouse authority, helping maintain Ireland's many remote lighthouses. Today, he has an art studio/gallery in Ranelagh.

Film: Capernaum


Capernaum takes place in Lebanon yet the film setting reminded me of my teen visit to Cairo, with its despair and poverty. It's a heartwarming story of friendship and trust. It reminds me that despite our different cultures, skin colours and age we are all human and that love and kindness can demolish all barriers.

Song: It's Probably Me

Gregory Porter performing Sting's It's Probably Me. Call me a big oul' softy but I love this song - it gets to me every time.

Architecture: Victorian glasshouse

Victorian glasshouse

When I visited the Botanic Gardens with my grandmother in my early teens, I remember being intrigued by Richard Turner's Victorian glasshouses and their dramatic wrought iron structure. One of the many exciting projects I have this year is an invitation from the director of Singapore Botanic Gardens Nigel Taylor and supported by Ireland's Ambassador to Singapore Patrick Bourne to stay in the Singapore Botanic Gardens for a month with the freedom to paint every day. A truly amazing opportunity!

Book: David Hockney retrospective

With dyslexia, I find it difficult to read. I prefer to flick through a book of images. My recent favourite is a book published for artist David Hockney's retrospective exhibition (60 years of work), which I visited on more than one occasion while living in London (we recently moved back after living in the UK for four years). I found both the exhibition and the book inspiring.

TV: Treasures from the Wreck Of The Unbelievable

Damien Hirst's brilliant documentary on Netflix Treasures from The Wreck Of The Unbelievable tells the story behind his exhibition in Venice in 2017. The title speaks for itself... Amazing!

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