So we stopped and parked in the spring-cleaning light
Of Connemara on a Sunday morning
As a captivating brightness held and opened
And the utter mountain mirrored in the lake
Entered us like a wedge knocked sweetly home
Into core timber.
The 35th Clifden Arts week festival is upon us and there is a rich and varied programme that encompasses the visual arts, poetry, music, dance and performance. It is one of the very best times to be in Clifden and because it is a community arts week no section of our population is excluded as the artists visit and perform in our schools and throughout the community. The ten day festival concludes on Saturday night next with a lantern-lit costume parade and aerial dance performance. This is always a spectacle and involves local national and secondary school children under the guidance of the multi disciplinary ‘Fidget Feet’. This year we are honoured to welcome President Michael D. Higgins who officially opened the celebrations last night.
‘Captivating Brightness’ is the title of an exhibition that was specially curated by IMMA ( The Irish Museum of Modern Art ) to celebrate the festival and to pay homage to Irish artists in the last century who have drawn on the West of Ireland for their inspiration. The title for the show was taken by kind permission from Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘Ballinahinch Lake’ (above). This impressive exhibition includes paintings by Jack Yeats, Paul Henry and Mainie Jellett alongside contemporary works by artists such as Dorothy Cross, Barrie Cooke and Sean McSweeney. I went along to the show which was launched by Mary Banotti. Speakers also present were Christina Kennedy – Senior curator and Head of Collections IMMA, Desmond Lally – Arts Committee, Clifden Community Arts festival, our very own Brendan Flynn who is founder and leading light of Arts week and Eamonn McLoughlin.
Mary Banotti spoke about the ghosts in the room – a century of artists brought together and bound together directly or indirectly by the landscape of the West. Paul Henry’s ‘Lake and Blue Mountain’s of Connemara’ (above) depicts the landscape sensitively and just as it is. Other artists such as Louis le Brocquy and and Mainie Jellet spent time here while others such as Gerard Dillon made Connemara their home.
Christina Kennedy talked about this exhibition as part of IMMA’s wish to bring art back to the people. There is an enormous sense of this and I had to remind myself that I was standing in the old Supervalu in Market Street ( now a transformed space ) and not in a gallery in our capital city. It’s proper place you might say, where it all began and now returns. Yet it is still a remarkable thing and a credit to the Arts week committee and the high esteem with which this Clifden festival is held Nationally and Internationally. Enjoy it while it’s here.
Megaceros Hibernicus by Barrie Cooke
Saddle by Dorothy Cross