Artists Dare to Dream

By Maria pepper

Passage by Helen Gaynor.
Passage by Helen Gaynor.
Clockwise from below right: Still Sort Of Fortunately by Rosie O'Gorman; Cardigan (Stripes) by John Busher; The Pantheon by Serena Caulfield; A Cloud for Sigiriya by Robert Armstrong and Passage by Helen Gaynor.
Clockwise from below right: Still Sort Of Fortunately by Rosie O'Gorman; Cardigan (Stripes) by John Busher; The Pantheon by Serena Caulfield; A Cloud for Sigiriya by Robert Armstrong and Passage by Helen Gaynor.
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Pantheon, oil on panel by Serena Caulfield.

The Arts Department of Wexford County Council is partnering with Wexford Arts Centre for a major group exhibition of paintings entitled 'And Creatures Dream...A New Language' by leading 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.

The two-venue show which is co-curated by Catherine Bowe of Wexford Arts Centre and Helen Gaynor, will run at Wexford County Council Buildings in Carricklawn and Wexford Arts Centre from July 3 to August 25 with the official opening taking place in County Hall at 1.30 pm on Saturday, July 1. The guest speaker will be the Public Arts Manager at Dublin City Council Ruairí Ó Cuiv.

Visual Arts Manager Catherine and artist Helen who is also a talented musician, music teacher and published writer, travelled the length and breadth of County Wexford to visit artists at work in their studios and were excited by what they saw.

'It has been a stimulating and informative project and what is actually on show is but a fraction of what is going on in our county', commented Helen who is also featured in the Summer show at Newtownbarry House, Bunclody and is currently working on a collection of poetry and new painted works.

'And Creatures Dream…A New Language' is a line taken from Susan Stewart's poem 'A Language' exploring the relationship of perception to conscious being. Much of the work hints at the instability of perception which relies on memory, and the fragility of knowledge.

The following is an extract from the poem: 'There was a myth I once knew about twins who spoke a private language, though one spoke only the truth and the other only lies. The saviour gets mixed up with the traitor but the traitor stays as true to himself as a god. All night the rain falls here, falls there, and the creatures dream, or drown, in the lair.'

The name of the exhibition reflects both dreams and language, opposing aspects of the human condition, with dreams referring to the unknown, buried or random parts of the self and language, a more formal, conscious communication system. There is the intriguing question - can the language of words adequately relate all that we know. And can the language of painting redress the shortfall?.

John Busher's paintings show the influence of his print practice with each fragment telling part of a story but only part; Armstrong, Busher, Carter, Gaynor and O'Gorman all allude to traditions that include figurative, landscape, still life, allegorical and narrative painting; the sculptural work of Michael Warren draws inspiration from Italian painting of the 16th century, as do the works of Eamonn Carter.

There is a broadening of what the medium of painting means with the use of substances not traditionally seen as paint and no attempt at hiding the way work is created. Eliminating the canvas altogether and allowing the paint to become the surface and medium is an aspect of the work of Ciaran Bowen, Emma Roche and Kate Murphy. Roche's works focus on leftovers -spilled paint or a failed or destroyed painting/drawing- which she re-works into sculptures of paintings.

Murphy's current pieces sit somewhere between paintings, dioramas and assemblages and are made using random storage/gift boxes, found paintings and other items while Bowen uses unstable, non-traditional materials -silicone, glue and ester foam - to create works that falls between the gaps of painting and sculpture.

Opening hours are Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5pm in both Wexford County Council and Wexford Arts Centre and on Saturdays from 10 am to 4pm in the Arts Centre.

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