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Awash with colour - St Helena Park a perfect location to enjoy Culture Night

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Music in the Park.....Guitarist Seán Ó Roideáin at the AAEX (Art Exchange) Culture Night event held in in St Helena Park. Photo Conor Sally/Newspics.

Music in the Park.....Guitarist Seán Ó Roideáin at the AAEX (Art Exchange) Culture Night event held in in St Helena Park. Photo Conor Sally/Newspics.

Enjoying the show at the AAEX (Art Exchange) Culture Night event held in in St Helena Park. Photo Conor Sally/Newspics.

Enjoying the show at the AAEX (Art Exchange) Culture Night event held in in St Helena Park. Photo Conor Sally/Newspics.

Gráinne Murphy gives a demonstration of screen printing at the AAEX (Art Exchange) Culture Night event held in in St Helena Park. Photo Conor Sally/Newspics.

Gráinne Murphy gives a demonstration of screen printing at the AAEX (Art Exchange) Culture Night event held in in St Helena Park. Photo Conor Sally/Newspics.

Enda Brennan reads one of his poems as Petra Berntsson displays her art at the AAEX (Art Exchange) Culture Night event held in in St Helena Park. Photo Conor Sally/Newspics.

Enda Brennan reads one of his poems as Petra Berntsson displays her art at the AAEX (Art Exchange) Culture Night event held in in St Helena Park. Photo Conor Sally/Newspics.

Dara MacGabhann chats with Caoimhe O'Dwyer at the AAEX (Art Exchange) Culture Night event held in in St Helena Park. Photo Conor Sally/Newspics.

Dara MacGabhann chats with Caoimhe O'Dwyer at the AAEX (Art Exchange) Culture Night event held in in St Helena Park. Photo Conor Sally/Newspics.

Jebun Nahar and Jehaan Muntasir at the AAEX (Art Exchange) Culture Night event held in in St Helena Park. Photo Conor Sally/Newspics.

Jebun Nahar and Jehaan Muntasir at the AAEX (Art Exchange) Culture Night event held in in St Helena Park. Photo Conor Sally/Newspics.

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Music in the Park.....Guitarist Seán Ó Roideáin at the AAEX (Art Exchange) Culture Night event held in in St Helena Park. Photo Conor Sally/Newspics.

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St. Helena Park proved an ideal location for one of Dundalk’s many events to celebrate Culture Night last Friday night where an amalgamation between Artist Exchange (AAEX) here in town and MOPSOGS from Monaghan came into fruition, an idea ‘Awash With Colour’ which was spawned during the lockdown where artists from both communities collaborated to showcase their work on the bandstand on Friday evening.

The entire enterprise was set up on line during the pandemic and with the aid of only three zoom calls the seeds for the evening were germinated into a showcase event that saw painters teamed up with poets, singer songwriters filling the air with self penned observations on life and everything else. The set up even found plenty of room for various stalls to showcase the artists work round the bandstand.

I wasn’t too long into the park when I met up with main coordinator Dara MacGabhann who was part of the Monaghan group who told me the entire event was spawned from an idea back in May. It was agreed that artists from both groups show collaborate and Friday evening saw the culmination of their work together. She went on to say that there are around 92 pieces in the project which will run for the weekend and will be brought together again for an official launch night in Iontas Centre in Castleblaney on December 9th where it can be viewed for the following month.

Next I caught up with Arts Office Moya Hodgers who was there with husband Ultan and daughter Zoe who told me they were really looking forward to seeing the various mixed media pieces and Moya said they were delighted to be getting back to more cultural events with full capacity audiences in the very near future and also wanted to wish the artists all the best on their exhibition.

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One man who was extremely busy that evening was chairperson of AAEX Bernhard Gaul who told me the night was actually the 5th anniversary of the setting up of the group and said the event was supposed to take place last year, but was culled by the pandemic. He went on to tell me the group are based in Dundalk but also take in members from north Louth and surrounding areas and have been growing from strength to strength and the weekend will showcase much of their work, both current and from their early years.

After this I headed over for a chat with Gerry Keegan an ex Dub who now lives in Carrickmacross and was there to support his partner Una Curley who is involved with the workshop and was very impressed with the collaboration and the set up in the park.

One of the most visual artists there had to be Grainne Murphy from Castle Park who had her mobile print studio attached to her bicycle and was getting passersby to help print the logo of the event onto canvas tote bags and then gave them away to the people who printed them. Grainne told me she was from Print Studio in Creative Spark and was working with Marianna Clemente from Portugal. She told me she was looking forward to being busy on the night, and believe me she was, the bags were a huge success.

Not too long later I then got a word with Jackie Uí Mhonachain from Ardee who told me she was involved with the Fablab Project and was there on the night with Lorcan and both were impressed with the way the evening was progressing.

Next I got a word with Catherine McCourt from Francis Street who wart of AAEX and had one piece on show on the night. She told me they were delighted with the way things had gone and were happier to eventually meet up in person with people whom they’d only conversed with over zoom. She had managed to get a couple of ringside seats for her parents Rosaleen and Oliver Gillespie from Ardee who were enjoying the show.

I then bumped into a chap I haven’t seen in years and was firmly convinced he was still living over in England, only to find he has been at home living here for nearly six months now (C. On a B. I really need to get out more). It was Brian Crilly from Willow Grove with daughter Emma Callan-Crilly and their friends Dylan and Molly Connolly from Knockbridge who told me they were all there to support the arts, although the girls seemed a little more interested in the adjacent playground.

Not too long later I then got talking to Pat McArdle from Castlebellingham who was there to support his wife Caoimhe O’Dwyer who is an artist and art teacher and finds time to be on the organising committee and was responsible for the initial idea for the night. Caoimhe was busy making sure the night ran successfully, while Pat was busy keeping an eye on his kids Farron, Ailbhe, twins Rian and Odhran, Iseult and Lochlan who were all running around enjoying themselves. Pat said it was an amazing collaboration between both groups, kind of like a call and response and both answered the call, and responded admirably.

Making my way through the crowds I then got talking to Ciaran Redmond from Monaghan who had written a poem to compliment a painting from local artist Petra Berntsson. He was there with one of his fiercest critics Bruno the dog. He was having a laugh with Angela McCrosson also from Monaghan who was going to be performing a few pieces later on and they were with Jackie Morgan who told me she thought the whole idea was great and she was there to support all the artists.

After this I had a laugh with Jacek Kosek originally from Poland but now living in Barrack Street with wife Isabella and daughter Dobrawa. He told me he was delighted that everyone is getting back to live events and this showcase could only lead to bigger and better things from the local artists and he and his family were looking forward to the event.

After this I headed over for a quick chat with Elaine Gilsenan and Mary Mathews from The Valley who were there to support the event and to listen to the music but more so to be back at a live event at last.

Making my through the crowds I then caught up with Barbara McCourt from Knockbridge who told me she was there to support her daughter Sinead McCourt from Blackrock who was exhibiting some of her work. She told me the whole idea for the night was an excellent one and she was really happy to be there. She also wanted a shout out for daughter Orla who was home from London with husband Stephen McWard too!

Finally, before I departed I got a word with father and daughter Gerry and Isabelle Martin from Blackrock who told me they thought Culture Night was an excellent idea and that St. Helena Park was a really great location and they were thoroughly enjoying it and there should be plenty more.


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