Sunday 20 October 2019

An art gallery is always well worth a visit

Fr Michael Commane - The Way I See It

When were you last in an art gallery or when did you last attend an art exhibition? There are those who are regular visitors to galleries and there are those who have never been inside an art gallery. Others like me, who on occasion, make a visit.

No doubt people who paint, sketch and draw regularly visit galleries. Last year more than half a million people visited the National Gallery in Dublin. Did you know it's free to stroll around all municipal and State galleries? Can you imagine the uproar there would be if a decision were made that we had to pay?

There can be something 'intimidating' about art. If you know nothing about a work of art you might simply wonder what you are meant to be looking for, what's special about it? Did it ever cross your mind that if it pleases your eye then isn't that great? You may not know much about forestry or agriculture yet you can enjoy the beauty of the fields, hills and forests.

Take any of the sculptures in the streets across Ireland. Look how they can enhance the place and you don't have to be a sculptor or know anything about sculpture to appreciate the pieces of art.

The annual Culture Night, which took place last month, is a great way of opening doors for the uninitiated. I have also heard of someone organising an art gallery walk. Some weeks ago I spotted a work of art in the home of a friend of mine. The moment I saw it my eyes lit up. It was a magic moment. Mary explained to me what it is.

She is now about to exhibit her work in South Main Street in Wexford. It's next door to Regency Gold Jewelers. It will be open to the public from 11am to 7pm from October 18 and will run for the three weeks of the Wexford Opera Festival. It is a collection of hand-cut paper collage pieces, which explore patterns, colours and textures of mid-20th century art and design. It is Mary's first time to exhibit her art work. In a former life she was a noted dress designer.

She will be exhibiting with two other artists. The three women, Mary Moloney from Tipperary, Wexford woman Patricia Keilthy and Kathleen Moroney, who lives in Clare, have all attended art college, been successful in their respective careers, and are now enjoying a freedom to explore new facets of their creativity.

Somehow or other it's ingrained in us to believe that all forms of artistic creation are the preserve of a certain 'elite'. It really is a crazy idea. Have you ever visited a jail and checked out the art works created by prisoners? And how it can change their lives?

Of course the great and the good spend millions on 'works of art'. Most of us can't adorn our homes with Renoirs or Caravaggios but it is a great privilege to have originals in our homes. It's lovely to surround ourselves with paintings and pieces of sculpture we like and are crafted by people we know and like.

Some years ago I found a print by Dutch painter Metsu. My mother must have acquired it. I had it reframed and every time I look at it, it reminds me of my late mother. Curiosity got the better of me and I visited the National Gallery to see his work.

If this column spurs on one person to cross the door of a gallery or an exhibition for the first time then it has been worth writing.

Wexford People

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