Wexford's Art in the Open festival is taking place as Art in a Month of Sundays due to Covid-19 measures with the first successful outing held over two days in Wexford town and environs.
The pared-down festival which usually attracts a large number of overseas participants, is confined to Irish artists this year because of travel restrictions with Kilkenny, Dunmore East and Enniskerry, County Wicklow also included as paint-out destinations during August. Indoor exhibitions and social gatherings cannot be held due to social distancing constraints.
In Wexford, many artists were drawn to the harbour, painting plein air pictures from the quayside and Ferrybank while others produced streetscapes or ventured to Johnstown Castle and Min Ryan Park.
The festival usually spans eight days and draws extended stay visitors and their families but there was a reduction in economic benefit to the area due to the limited numbers although all was not lost as many Irish visitors made a weekend of it.
At the end of each day of easel work, artists were invited to exhibit two paintings each in an open setting on the quayfront - the event was attended by the Mayor of Wexford, Cllr. Leonard Kelly who presented the prizes, and also joined in the plein air fun by producing his own painting of an old shed door at the railway station.
The overall prize on Sunday was won by Mairead Holohan from Kilkenny for a painting of boats on the quayside. She received a trophy dedicated to the memory of regular Art in the Open participant Louise Treacy of Tagoat who died suddenly earlier this summer - the prize was presented by her sister Phil Hosler who is also an artist and festival supporter.
Joint second prizewinners on Sunday were Serena Kitt from Dublin and Desmond Downes from Louisburgh, County Mayo, who was also named the overall winner on Monday for a painting of Wexford bridge and town.
In joint second place on Monday were Trisha O'Callaghan from Kilmore Quay with a linoprint of Wexford and Jamie Dunne from Graiguenamanagh with a painting of Wexford bridge.
The exhibitions were attended by locals and visitors who enjoyed an opportunity to stroll on the quayfront, viewing and buying paintings.
'We got great feedback with people saying it was lovely that Art in the Open went ahead. It created a nice atmosphere around the town and everyone enjoyed watching the art being created', said festival manager Alma Hynes.