The Public arts manager of Dublin City Council Ruairí Ó Cuív was full of praise for County Wexford's vibrant arts scene as he officially opened a two-venue exhibition at Wexford County Council Buildings in Carricklawn and Wexford Arts Centre.
The exhibition, entitled 'And Creatures Dream: A New Language', features the work of artists Robert Armstrong, John Busher, Ciaran Bowen, Eamonn Carter, Serena Caulfield, Helen Gaynor, Aileen Murphy, Kate Murphy, Rosie O'Gorman, Breda Stacey, Emma Roche, George Warren and Michael Warren and will continue until August 25.
Mr Ó Cuív said that while Wexford was internationally known for its Opera Festival, it also enjoyed a strong visual arts tradition. His first association with the county goes back many years to when he curated and installed an exhibition in Wexford Arts Centre at the time Denis Collins was artistic director.
He complimented the multi-talented Wexford artist, musician and writer Helen Gaynor, who came up with the idea of an exhibition celebrating the wide range of visual art practice in the county, especially painting, and who curated the double-venue show with the Visual Arts Manager of Wexford Arts Centre, Catherine Bowe.
Helen's paintings can be found in several public and corporate collections. She is a co-founder of music for Wexford, has directed courses in music and art appreciation for primary school teachers in Dublin and Wexford; has played and sung with the Capriol Consort, Wexford Sinfonia and Valda Chamber Choir and has written a recorder tutor for Waltons Music.
She has been writing creatively since 2010 and her work has been published in the Irish Times and other publications. She was shortlisted for the Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Prize in 2013.
Helen, who has written a comprehensive art essay to accompany the exhibition, said it is focused on painting and on artists with close connections to County Wexford. 'But such is the fine state of art in corner of the country that it represents only a fraction of what is going on. It has been a stimulating and informative project and we are planning a Part 2 in 2018'.
She travelled the length and breadth of the county with Catherine Bowe, visiting artists at work in their studios. The pair were excited by what they saw and eventually settled on the theme of the exhibition.
'All the selected artists have close connections to the county. Many of them were born here. Besides that, they share a serious and ongoing engagement with the language of the visual arts, wholeheartedly referencing the distinguished history of painting; while nevertheless, making forays beyond', said Helen,.
'The works draw widely from the inherited rich history of painting, yet still, as individuals; the artists engage and push the boundaries of what painting might be. They address the strengths, vulnerabilities and challenges of the process, yet still indulge in landscape, myth and allegory, and a constancy of intriguing stories, made all the more intriguing by seeming to be 'half-told'.