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Thursday 18 October 2018

50 years of visual art

North Louth Artists celebrate 50 years of exhibiting stunning work

The North Louth Artists’ stunning exhibition of painting and sculpture, celebrating 50 years of artists working in the region,opens in Dundalk’s An Tain Arts Centre on May 9 and runs from May 10 to 26th. North Louth Artists: Back row L-R, Gerry Clarke, Sandra Bell, Ciara Agnew, Frances Lambe, Siobhan Conynham, Derek Bell, Patrick Conynham. Front row, Paula Eigenheer, Irene Woods, Omin. (Absent, Alva Gallagher, Rosemary Warren,John O’Conner, Patricia Murphy).
The North Louth Artists’ stunning exhibition of painting and sculpture, celebrating 50 years of artists working in the region,opens in Dundalk’s An Tain Arts Centre on May 9 and runs from May 10 to 26th. North Louth Artists: Back row L-R, Gerry Clarke, Sandra Bell, Ciara Agnew, Frances Lambe, Siobhan Conynham, Derek Bell, Patrick Conynham. Front row, Paula Eigenheer, Irene Woods, Omin. (Absent, Alva Gallagher, Rosemary Warren,John O’Conner, Patricia Murphy).

Margaret Roddy

Louth's wonderful visual arts tradition is being celebrated with the North Louth Artists' 50th anniversary exhibition in The Basement Gallery.

The group has its roots in 1968 when a number of prominent artists got together to address the lack of opportunities for artists in the county to exhibit their work.

Founder members of the North Louth Painters, as the group was originally called, included noted artists Bea Orpen and Nano Reid, as well as Cecil Barrow, Doreen Babe, Ernest McDowell, John Haugh and Maureen McManus O'Dowd.

Their work is being carried on by a new generation of artists and the group now comprises fourteen professional artists living and working in the county.

'The aim is to give Louth artists opportunities to show their work locally, while giving the public the chance to appreciate it, and we are delighted to continue that tradition into its 50th year,' said artist and group chairperson, Irene Woods.

'Our anniversary exhibition provides a wonderful opportunity for people to discover and explore the work some of Louth's most creative visual and sculptural artists.'

The group was founded at a time when there was no arts officer, no supports for visual artists, and nowhere for anyone to show their work,' she recalled. 'Back then, if artists wanted to show their work they had to go to Dublin or Belfast if they wanted it to be seen by serious collectors.'

The group held their first exhibition in Ballymascanlon Hotel and later began to exhibit during the Maytime Festival, first in the old Tempest Building and more recently in the County Museum and Basement Gallery. They continued with the tradition of holding an annual exhibition in May even after the demise of the Maytime Festival.

Over the years, the group has evolved to include artists working in a variety of media including sculpture, ceramics, metal and glass, as well as oils, watercolour, acrylics and tempera.

Guest artists such as the internationally acclaimed sculpture John Behan, have shown work in the annual exhibition down the years. Many members exhibit with leading Irish galleries and have exhibitions throughout the country. Some members also have solo exhibitions with galleries abroad.

Among the 14 artists exhibiting are painter Irene Woods who finds inspiration in the countryside surrounding her home on the Cooley peninsula. Scenes from the shores of Carlingford Lough and the slopes of Slieve Foy can be found in the works of Rosemary Warren, who is also well known for her detailed still lives.

Blackrock-based artist Patricia Murphy's colourful abstracts are inspired by the Irish landscape and mythology. Her work can be found in private and public collections around the country.

Ceramic artist Frances Lambe, who was a founder member of Dundalk's Bridge Street Studio, is regarded as one of the leading ceramic artists in the country and has exhibited extensively at home and abroad. John O'Connor, who was also a founder of Bridge Street Studios, will be showing his abstract and figurative paintings inspired by local bogland.

Gerry Clarke is well known for his watercolours depicting scenes of everyday life around Louth and further afield. Paula Eigenheer from Blackrock is another artist who works in watercolours, specialising in detailed floral studies.

Also exhibiting are Dundalk sculptor Sandra Bell, whose public art pieces include the Rhyme and Rhythm bronze sculpture at Earl Street, based on a piece presented to US President Bill Clinton during his visit to Dundalk, and her husband painter Derek whose varied work includes landscapes and figurative work. Another husband and wife team showing work are painters Siobhan and Patrick Conyngham.

Mullacrew artist Ciara Agnew, whose work has been acquired by the Office of Public Works, will be exhibiting her abstract paintings. Newer members of the group are the Carlingford-based sculptor Alva Gallagher, who works mainly in glass and Dundalk-born Omin who has been gaining acclaim in bringing graffiti art to a mainstream audience.

The exhibition will be opened by Dr Marie Bourke, former Head of Education at the National Gallery on Wednesday, May 9th at 7pm and will be open to the public from Thursday May 10th until Saturday 26th May.

The Argus

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