Christmas in Clifden 2016

Christmas at the Square, Clifden

Clifden is feeling festive this December with it’s new street lighting and cheerful shop window displays. It’s a good time of the year to be in town as there’s a strong flavour of the season but without the crazy hustle and bustle of the city. Here’s some photos of the tree in the Square.


Christmas lights in Clifden


And a peak into our own shop window  – we have a colourful landscape in oils by Gavin Lavelle, also paintings by Lydia Brow, Manson Blair, Ann Flynn and Lorraine Fletcher and a selection of ceramics by Claire Finlay. Much more inside of course. We are open right up to Christmas so drop in – we look forward to seeing you.


Christmas at the gallery























‘Charms of Plenty’ by Rosie McGurran at the Lavelle Art Gallery

Painting by Rosie McGurran


The Lavelle Art Gallery hosted an exhibition of work by Rosie McGurran this September for Clifden Arts Week. Rosie has had a long association with the gallery and she has shown her work with Gavin in two joint exhibitions, at the Peppercanister Gallery in Dublin and more recently at the Whalley Gallery in County Down. Originally from Belfast and a member of the Royal Ulster Academy, Rosie has lived in Roundstone since 2000.

This exhibition was inspired by the wild flowers of Connemara. June heralds the bog cotton and foxgloves while summer ends with fuschia, heather and montebresia. Rosie gathers these seasonal markers on her daily walks and she has used them to make a series of pastel drawings and paintings. Figures often appear in the work creating a visual narrative, deeply informed by symbolism.

Here are some photos taken during the summer of the work in progress at Rosie’s studio in Roundstone.


14141844_10154470285992392_3081387001425341698_n Work in progress at Rosie's studio



The exhibition was officially opened on the 17th of September by Sheila Pratschke, Chair of the Irish Arts Council of Ireland. It took place in the newly renovated upstairs room of the gallery and ran for the duration of Clifden Arts Week 2016.

Sadly I missed the opening night myself due to a family commitment but here’s a few photos of the gallery space just before the show opened.


Rosie Mc Gurran show at the Lavelle Art Gallery




Upstairs at the Lavelle Art Gallery



Rosie's work at the Lavelle Art Gallery

Vive la Citroen

Old Citroen outside the gallery

Look what pulled up outside our gallery this week – Gavin managed to get take this picture, which is unhindered ( miraculously ) by the usual clutter of cars and vans on main street. A very large french family disembarked from it straight away – hard to believe such a car could make the journey this far west. We’ve been reliably informed that it is a Citroen Traction Avant Commerciale 11CV. These cars were built in France between 1952 and 1957 – I’d like to think that our 2006 Toyota Rav 4 will last as long but I’m not so sure..

In Conversation with Mary Donnelly

Sweet Song of Spring by Mary Donnelly

Cover image  ‘Sweet Song of Spring’ by Mary Donnelly

(This article will feature in the February edition of the Connemara Journal 2016)


Mary Donnelly has lived and worked as an artist in Connemara for most of her adult life. She has received many accolades throughout her career, among them the Oriel Gallery Award for a landscape of distinction at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 2004. She also received the prestigious Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2013 and she has had solo shows in Dublin, Australia and New York. Her most recent show was in the Paul McKenna gallery in Omagh last autumn.

Originally from County Louth, Mary uprooted her painting studio from Dublin’s Temple bar in 1991 in search of a new landscape.  She found in Connemara ‘a place of extreme weather and sublime beauty,’ conditions that would combine to feed her artistic practice here for the next quarter of a century. Mary takes her inspiration from the contours of Connemara, often seeking out quieter places – a small copse or field, rather than the dramatic mountainous peaks you might usually associate with the West of Ireland. Mary describes her landscapes as ‘groundless’ and many appear to exist without a distinct skyline or depth of field in the traditional sense. More significant for Mary is the metaphor this provides for an exploration of the transcendent nature of landscape. She views the line of the horizon as a sacred place where Heaven and Earth come together. The surface of her paintings appear suffused with a silvery light, the half-light of winter, Mary’s favourite season of the year. It is under this delicate film, that the land and it’s timeless mysteries are revealed – the hidden furrows of another era or the gentle arch of an animal grazing, as animals have grazed here for centuries.


Dusk,Cow With Calf 13x18cm

‘Dusk, Cow with Calf’ by Mary Donnelly



In some paintings, the activity of man is evident in the form of a telegraph pole or the faint outline of a building, but it is always unobtrusive. Others paintings contain an object within the work – a wire strung across the canvas might indicate a fence. Mary explains that the external nature of the additional material may serve as a gateway or threshold for the viewer.


Frosted Darkness by Mary Donnelly

‘Frosted Darkness’ by Mary Donnelly



The poetry of Patrick Kavanagh was an early influence and Mary cites the poems ‘March’ and ‘Wet Evening in April’ especially.  The lines from ‘March’ continue to resonate with her most current work –


‘There’s a wind blowing

Cold through the corridors,

a ghost-wind..


( Patrick Kavanagh 1904 – 1967 )


Other artistic influences include the sepia water colours of Victor Hugo, the light filled landscapes of J.W.M. Turner and the work of contemporary American artist Lawrence Carroll.

Music fills Mary’s studio, helping her to focus. Currently she is listening to ‘Stabat Mater’ by Italian composer Agostino Steffani and the music of contemporary mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli. Mary quotes the words of William Blake who said that poetry, painting and music are ‘the three powers in man of conversing with paradise’

Most of the paintings are worked on for several months at a time, in some cases up to a year. Each begins with a drawing and layers are built up slowly and carved away to create the sense of a surface that has been revealed. Mary tells me that the best advice she has been given in relation to her art is to hold on to the adage to ‘never give up.’ I ask what advice she might give to aspiring artists and she replies; ‘to understand that being an artist is a privilege and to always remember that you are a seeker of truth.’


Mary’s work may be viewed in Clifden at the Lavelle Art Gallery or online at



Gavin with David Agnew

Gavin with David Agnew at the Toradh Gallery


Gavin travelled to Ashbourne in County Meath last Tuesday for the opening of his exhibition in the Toradh Gallery, operated by Meath county council. He delivered the paintings himself in a large car borrowed from one of our neighbours. Transportation of paintings is difficult at the best of times in Ireland and many courier companies refuse to take art at all, for a plethora of insurance reasons. Often the best and most cost efficient way is to do it yourself by hiring or borrowing a large car or van. Fortunately for us, we are surrounded by good neighbours on Main Street with generous hearts and excellent vehicles. Continue reading

Irish Blog Awards

Irish Blog Awards Logo

We were delighted to learn that this blog has been shortlisted in the Irish Blog Awards 2015 for the Best Blog in the Arts & Culture category.

The next stage in the voting process is a public vote and here’s where we need your help –

You can vote for us by clicking this link Public Vote – Irish Blog Awards.

Simply scroll down the list of companies till you find us and click the circle to cast your vote.


Thanks in advance!



Gallery Studios and September Exhibitions

Debbie's Studio

My Studio on the top floor of the gallery


As our season reaches something of a lull during the back to school period, Gavin and myself are busy making work for two forthcoming exhibitions. Gavin is finishing some large paintings for an exhibition to be opened shortly in the Toradh Gallery in County Meath. Collectively, it is the largest body of work that he has produced since he developed his collage/painting technique about six years ago. Continue reading

Irish Times Best Shops in Ireland

This year is the first year that we are entering the Irish Times Best Shops in Ireland award 2015 and here is where you dear readers, can help – we would love to have your nomination!

All you have to do is click this link Best Shops in Ireland and fill in the nomination form.

Here’s the information you will need:

The Lavelle Art Gallery

Best Specialist Shop

County Galway


The rest is up to you 🙂


Post Script

Thanks to everyone who nominated us – we were delighted to have our photo featured in the Irish Times Magazine on Saturday 8th of August. Sadly, we did not make the shortlist but the competition was very stiff – over 3000 entries for a shortlist of just 100. All to play for again next year!

Lavelle Art Gallery Relaunch Party

Gavin with friends Carol Anne and Kevin

Gavin with friends Carol Anne Joyce and Kevin Griffin


We will remember this June Bank Holiday week end for a couple of reasons – firstly because it was the occasion of our much vaunted ‘relaunch party’ ( a plan we’ve had in the pipeline since we developed the gallery late last year ) and secondly because of the atrocious weather. I gasped when I read the forecast early last week and I tried desperately to find just one contradictory prediction but it all became a reality on Saturday night. Continue reading