Tuesday 24 April 2018

Legendary cartoonist Mathews gets surreal with exhibition at arts centre

A new exhibition, Surrealist Paintings, by Tom Mathews at the Ranelagh Arts Centre will be launched by James Hanley RHA next Thursday, April 3, and runs until April 19. The legendary cartoonist's exhibition of new works represents another fascinating detour in the career of the artist, writer and critic. Markedly different in style to his familiar cartooning work, these bright, brash works are nevertheless filled to bursting with the trademark Mathews' wit, packing an array of visual puns and pop culture references into their bizarre tableaux and featuring cameos from a cast of 20th Century icons from Charlie Chaplin to Mickey Mouse. It is a unique show from a true original.

Tom Mathews was born in Dublin in 1952. After working in advertising he studied Fine Art at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin. He has been a freelance cartoonist, writer and critic since 1975, his work appearing regularly in a variety of publications. He has had over 30 solo exhibitions of his work, and his paintings have been exhibited in Living Art, the National Portrait Show and at the RHA. He has illustrated a dozen books, written a novel and published three volumes of cartoons. Mathews recently launched his second collection of poems, No Return Game (2013), following his earlier collection, The Owl and the Pussycat and other poems (2009), both published by Dedalus Press.


JP Donleavy wrote The Ginger Man, a lusty and successful book set in Ireland. His novel A Fairy Tale of New York lent its title to the popular Christmas song. And last weekend his 91-year old sister Mary Rita launched a history of their family at the public library in Greystones, Co Wicklow, near where her family has owned a substantial holiday home for more than half-a-century.

Patrick John Dunleavy – Patriot, Philosopher, Family Man: A Burst of Poetry reflects the reality of emigration at a time when Irish families are again being stretched across the world. In it she includes family details that some authors might have omitted.

Rita (as the author is known) recalls the impact of The Ginger Man on family members: "Relatives were shocked. A Dunleavy aunt said she would like to slap his face. I had begun teaching at college and was afraid it would harm my career."

Rita's father was born in 1891 near Granard, Co Longford. He emigrated in 1913, working in Manhattan as a gardener at the famous Ritz-Carlton Hotel. He served as a cook in the US navy during the First World War and later became a fireman in New York. Her mother was Margaret Walsh from Ballymoe in Co Galway.

So how come her Dunleavy father spelt his name with the letter "u" and his children spell it "Donleavy" with an "o"? She explains: "When I was being registered for school for the first time, my father mentioned to the Roman Catholic nun that the correct ancient spelling of Dunleavy was Donleavy, so she changed it."


The issue of high-cost school textbooks could finally be a thing of the past with the recent announcement by Educate.ie of details of their new school payment plan.

It has been estimated that parents of post-primary students spend over €275 per year on schoolbooks. In an effort to address this, the Minister for Education and Skills Ruairi Quinn is encouraging post-primary schools to adopt book rental schemes, which have already been successful in many primary schools throughout the country. Introducing a book rental scheme in a school can result in savings for the parent in the region of €200 per student per annum.

However, these rental schemes can be very difficult to administer and control. A cost analysis on the Department of Education and Skills website indicates that a 769-pupil school would have to borrow €234,000 to buy a stock of new schoolbooks which are then rented to students. Many principals are finding it difficult to pay back these loans.

So it was good news when Educate.ie, a new schoolbook publisher, came up with a unique offering. Jim McCann, marketing manager of Educate.ie, explains: "We will provide the textbook and a free ebook directly to each student for €6 per book per year, under a new payment plan. Schools from all 26 counties are already showing interest and principals love the idea of a scheme with no seed capital.

Sunday Independent

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