Tuesday 22 January 2019

Alva Gallagher making waves

Making waves Alva Gallagher
Making waves Alva Gallagher

Artist Alva Gallagher is drawn to the sea. The award winning sculptor swapped the shores of her native Killybegs for Carlingford six years ago.

'It's beside the sea, not too dissimilar to Donegal,' she says of her decision to move here. The presence of the waves was as big an attraction as the village's location, close enough to be within an easy drive to Dublin and Belfast, yet remote enough to provide the tranquillity necessary to foster creativity.

'I was in Dublin for six years but there is more peace in the country,' she says. 'You have time to think.'

The changing moods of the sea are a constant in Alva's work which capture the stillness of the water lapping at the shore on a calm day as well as the crashing waves of the storm. The fruits of the sea, oysters and their pearls, are also a recurring motif.

Alva was studying at NCAD, from where she graduated in 2004, when she first fell in love with glass as a medium for sculpture.

'I am always drawn to the furnace,' she says. 'I like the fact that you can change and manipulate the glass while it's hot.'

Creating her beautiful hand blown glass sculptures is always 'a technical challenge', she admits but it gives her the opportunity to bring her love of the sea to viewers.

She won a scholarship award at the Pilchuck School of Glass in Seattle, USA, where she further developed her technique to create distinctive pieces which have seen her win numerous awards.

Alva works mostly from a studio at her home, travelling to Dublin to cast larger pieces in a foundry as she now incorporates bronze and steel in her practice.

She has exhibited extensively in Ireland, and throughout Europe and China, and her work is held in various public and private collections in Ireland, Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia. She has also won a number of public commissions.

Since coming to live in Carlingford, Alva has joined the North Louth Artists and exhibits with them annually.

Alva's piece 'Breath' was recently named the best Large Work of Distinction at the Sculpture in Context 2018 exhibition in the Botanic Gardens, Dublin which runs until October 19.

Comprising hand blown glass balls of 'frozen breath' which appear to float above a lake in the Glasnevin gardens, Alva was delighted that it survived the recent storms.

She is exhibiting in the Open 18 Sculpture exhibition in the FE McWilliam Gallery, Banbridge, where she is one of two local artists who have work on the display along with Sandra Bell at the exhibition which runs until November 10.

Alva has also has been invited to show in 'Cast' at the Wayne Arts Institute, Philadelphia, USA.

Recently, following an International call, she was announced as the winning commissioned artist for The Sharp Building Commission at Hogan Place, Dublin. Her commissioned sculpture installation 'Rise', measuring 6 metres by 4 metres in glass and stainless steel will be unveiled in early January 2019.

The Argus