March Steel

It’s the first week of March and temperatures have dipped again with no real sign of spring in Connemara just yet. This week saw our first real snowfall with spectacular drifts on the mountains and a heavy smattering of white along the valleys and roads. We’ve been hearing about the icy weather around the country for a while but our proximity to the coast has kept us just above freezing point.  Continue reading

Gavin Lavelle Exhibition – Clifden Arts Week

Cover image ‘Spiral Eye’ by Gavin Lavelle


This post is shared with the Lavelle Art Gallery blog which I write with my husband Gavin Lavelle. The Lavelle Art Gallery is a family business run by Gavin in Clifden, County Galway where we live. We have a brand new website that we have been working on this summer and you can visit it it here at 

Gavin opened an exhibition of his work this week end for Clifden Arts Week. The display is located at the Station House on the Galway Road and it comprises of twelve new works. The large space is divided into three rooms, the accompanying rooms feature work by Irish landscape artist Joe Wilson and artist and wood turner Angie Williams. The diversity of material and colour make for an interesting exhibition that showcases the high standard of artwork being made here in Connemara.


Gavin prepares for the exhibition opening

Preparation for the exhibition opening. Wood turned forms by Angie Williams behind and paintings and drawings by Joe Wilson in the far room.




New works by Gavin include two large circular forms entitled ‘Spiral Eye’ and ‘Hive’ in which a myriad of pattern, beads and glass eyes form a kaleidoscope arrangement.


Spiral Eye - detail

‘Spiral Eye’ – detail




'Hive' by Gavin Lavelle




The collection includes a small hand made triptych with a gold leaf central panel. There are several large collage paintings and a giant size map of Ireland.


Triptych central panel

Triptych central panel




Gavin collects his imagery from a variety of sources; maps, bird books, biology and botanical source books. He also uses vintage jewellery, beads, glass eyes and bones and twigs that have been painted or covered with gold leaf.

The compositions are all held within a structure, sometimes it is an adaptation from a classical painting or a real or imagined map. Larger forms are constructed out of wood into circular panels or domes. He uses antique boxes or specially constructed cabinets for smaller pieces.

Paint binds all of the strange, unconnected material together. A sensitive use of rich colour and contrast allows the imagery to flow in a seamless fashion in spite of its incongruity, creating an ‘alternative reality for the viewer’.

Of his work Gavin says ‘there’s a framework I have developed and a language that I use which can give the viewer enough scope to enter the paintings and enjoy them for themselves. Ideally I am happy enough with the viewer being engaged enough to meet me half way.’

September Beginnings and Endings

Cover image ‘Sheep in Errislannan’ by Marianne Chayet

(This piece was written for the next issue of the Connemara Journal which will be available in early September. My three children have returned to school and I am looking forward to returning to painting and writing with renewed energy. I will post again soon.)


Summer is over – bright pink heathers have dulled and roadside montbretia looks a little battered after recent rain but there is a lushness still to the land and the evenings hold on to the light. It is not uncommon to view September as a time of endings; the end of summer, the end of the holidays, time to weed out plant pots or finish a garden project before the cold weather sets in.

I’ve always thought of September as a time of beginnings – the start of a new school year, time to investigate a new course of study perhaps or take up some exercise. The month of September seems to me to hold a promise of newness and renewal in a more definitive way than the beginning of the calendar year. I loved the smell of new books and pencils as a child and I looked forward to packing my bag for the return to school – I was especially thrilled if I had some new art supplies or if I’d been successful in obtaining a much coveted fluffy pencil case from the local newsagents!



Maam Cross Landscape with sheep by Alan Kenny

‘Maam Cross Landscape with Sheep’ by Alan Kenny




It is the landscape that reminds me that there are no beginnings or endings. I love to watch the land at this time of year in an effort to grasp those imperceptible changes, the quiet movement from heathery sweet colour into the deep golden hues of Autumn. It is almost impossible to capture the transformation as grasses and plants evolve so fluently and so exquisitely, yet we see them once they are changed. As humans we like to compartmentalise our lives into tidy segments and of course we need this in order to manage our activities but I find it oddly comforting to realise that there are no divisions, only the quiet reassuring passage of time. Ideally this can prompt us into action to make the most of each day but it can also allow us to realise the importance and significance of smaller moments as we salute another September and endeavour to make our own imprint on the world.


Kaleidoscope of Autumn by Diana Pivovarova

‘Kaleidoscope of Autumn’ by Diana Pivovarova 


Original paintings available at the Lavelle Art Gallery, Clifden ( ) Our brand new website is under construction but will be going live very soon – stay tuned!

Tales from the West – Exhibition

This week, I attended the opening of a joint exhibition of work by two artists from Connemara. The title of the show is ‘Tales from the West‘ and it takes place in the

Peppercanister Gallery in Herbert Street in Dublin.

The first artist is my husband Gavin Lavelle and so I have watched the progress of his work for this show at first hand. Gavin studied fine art painting at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin from 1986 – 1991. He paints full – time as well as running his own gallery (The Lavelle Art Gallery) in the old family home here in Clifden.
His work is a mixture of collage and paint, sometimes applied on flat surfaces but also on wooden discs, icon shaped panels of board and specially formed domes of wood. The cut outs come from a multitude of sources – maps, printed work, texts, architecture, art history and religious imagery. These blend with paint and ink to form strange worlds of the imagination where opposing themes, histories and influences merge.
Here’s an example below simply called ‘Large Triptych Box’.


Paint & Collage: Large Triptych Box, by Gavin Lavelle



Rosie McGurran is also living and working in Connemara in the village of Roundstone. Rosie grew up in Belfast and studied fine art at the University of Ulster. She is a member of the Royal Ulster Academy of the Arts and she has worked in residencies in Rome, Australia, Iceland and New York. She discovered Roundstone and the island of Inishlacken in the late 1990’s and this ultimately led her to move here permanently, establishing Connemara as her home and also as the inspiration for her work. Rosie’s paintings describe the landscape, buildings, winding stone walls and field formations that make Connemara unique. A female figure commands the presence of some of these – she gazes outwards with a thoughtful, questioning look and she seems to gather houses and ruins in her skirts or on her head. These paintings are a response to the communities who live here and to those who are long gone. Rosie has a special affinity with the abandoned island of Inishlacken just off the shore of Roundstone. This was once a lively community which thrived from its own natural resource – the sea – but now it is a shadow of that time, it’s people dispersed, it’s houses abandoned except for a few Summer homes.
This painting of Rosie’s below is of Inishlacken.


Painting: Inishlacken, by Rosie McGurran



The opening night was very enjoyable and there was a lively and welcoming atmosphere thanks to gallery owner Bryan Murphy and a thoughtful and eloquent introduction provided by Mr. Frank X Buckley. The show runs until June 2nd 2012. Go see it if you can.