The exhibition of 21 decorated currachs which has captured the imagination of visitors to Inis Oirr and locals over the past two months is set to go on display on the NUI Galway campus from this Friday, September 17.
‘Curacha’, featuring 21 artists to celebrate the 21st birthday of Áras Éanna, includes works by acclaimed sculptor John Behan, Tuam-based visual artist Jennifer Cunnigham, Mayo-based Ger Sweeney, and Sadia Shoaib, who has been living in Direct Provision for the past six years.
NUI Galway and Áras Éanna will launch the exhibition at 11am on Friday in the university’s Quadrangle in partnership with Galway Music Residency. ConTempo Quartet will perform a specially selected suite of classical and contemporary music connected to the ocean, composed by Alec Roth, Claude Debussy and Katharina Baker.
And NUI Galway Drama students will also take part in the event, reciting a selection of poetry by Máirtín Ó Direáin.
This special occasion will also include the official launch of a new partnership between NUI Galway and Áras Éanna. Both organisations aim to work together to promote the islands and the West more generally as places of culture, learning and research.
The university has established a new fund to support staff and students who wish to travel to Inis Oírr and use the facilities at Áras Éanna as part of their studies.
On Culture Night, Dolores Lyne will be present at the exhibition from 7pm-9pm to give an informal guided tour of the currachs. Dolores is one of the featured artists and she will be joined by some of the other guest artists on the night. This event will be open to the public, outdoors and free-of-charge without the need for booking tickets.
“It is fantastic that people in the city will now be able to see this wonderful exhibition,” says Dolores. “Word has got out in the city about the exhibition. Quite a lot of people went to the island to see the currachs, but then there were people who, for whatever reason, could not get to Inis Oirr. It’s great that a much broader audience will be able to see them in Galway.
“Some of the artists had never painted a three dimensional canvas before. The artists rose to the occasion. We found that people really embraced the currachs during the two months they were on display on Inis Oirr. We thought it was going to be successful, but the thought the artists put into their works was more amazing than we could have predicted.”
Dolores said the original design of the six foot metal and canvas currachs, by Tom Meskill and Eugene Finnegan, captured the imagination of the 21 artists from the beginning.
“Every single artist went ‘Wow!’ upon receiving the blank currachs! Tom and Eugene set a real high standard with the whole idea of the project. It was the nearest thing to opening presents on Christmas morning when the currachs arrived on the island in July. The artists were let create their own personal creations on the currachs and we believe that people in Galway will love them.”
The 21 currachs are on display at NUI Galway until October 10. The piece by Kathleen Furey, in tribute to a stained glass window by Harry Clarke, will be on display inside Galway Cathedral.
Paying tribute to our glorious past
(Profiles of some of the artists in the exhibition)