About 200 artists from all over the world spent the past 10 days in Wexford attending Europe's largest Art in the Open festival.
Plein Air painters came from Alaska, Singapore, Australia, Norway, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, the US, Europe and the UK as well as Ireland to train their creative eyes on the county's varied landscape in changing weather at locations including Duncannon, Clonegal, Huntington Castle, Rosslare Safe, Bunclody and Artramon House in Crossabeg for the 11th Wexford festival.
Such was the level of interest this year that the organisers decided to close the registration when it reached just over 200 to avoid it becoming unmanageable and some people were left disappointed.
The visiting artists received a warm welcome everywhere they went, including Bunclody where 'Mick the Chipper' could not have been more helpful, according to event manager Alma Hynes, and Artramon House in Castlebridge where Countess Ulrike Walderdorff opened the beautiful grounds for their painting pleasure and where festival volunteers provided day-long refreshments in return for donations to Cottage Autism Network
The support group for children with Autism and their parents, was also the beneficiary of a Charity Quick Draw in the Bullring, Wexford on Saturday afternoon, in which artists executed on-the-spot paintings of street scenes in double quick time and sold them to impressed passers-by and it also received proceeds from the sale of exhibition catalogues.
The Artramon cows were the subject of many portraits which appeared at the 250-piece exhibition in Greenacres Gallery, Selskar on Sunday and Monday, representing a selection of the best work of the participants. The winners chosen by judges Sinead Rice of the National Gallery of Ireland and artists Blaise Smith and Dave West, were announced as Kay Lewis (Mayoral Award), Keiko Tanabe and Paul D'Arcy.
The festival's collaboration with the National Gallery saw 50 artists invited to Merrion Square in Dublin on Tuesday to view an exhibition by the acclaimed Irish post-impressionist artist Roderic O' Connor who was himself a plein air painter, followed by a paint-out afterwards in the square.
Art in the Open Festival which generates 1500 bed nights in tourism terms, is supported by Wexford County Council and sponsored by Bolands Hyundai, Kelly's Hotel, Spectrum, Wexford Self-Storage and T. Morris where the festival club is held.
A fancy dress gala dinner was hosted by the Riverbank Hotel. Many artists came to the festival with family members and stayed for two weeks enjoying all Wexford has to offer.