Friday, January 15, 2010

I Always Find Art Galleries Hungry Work - Occupy Space art exhibition opens

Mmmm, looks good enough to eat.. I've been going to art exhibition openings quite a bit over the course of the last two years, some good, some bad - some bizarre, some yawn-inducing.. Went to the launch of "I Always Find Art Galleries Hungry Work" in the newly opened
Occupy Space (Thomas Street, see below) last night, and was well impressed.
Contemporary art can be such a baffling proposition, as if the artist makes it their sole intention simply to confuse the viewer/audience - art for art's sake, yet with a snooty underbelly..
This exhibition seeks to play with people's perceptions of art galleries and contemporary art, and have some fun in doing so. The paint burger above, accompanied with the birdshit on the floor, are two of the most imaginative pieces I have seen in this city for some time. And as for the wax-work man, well, it needs to be seen to be believed.
So go and look at this exhibition while it is open. It is simple in concept and content, yet richly diverse in material and tone - without being up its own arse, frankly.
See article below for more details..

ONE OF the more physically obvious downsides of any recession is the unfortunate presence of vacant buildings and retail units, a situation which Limerick city centre is suffering from at the moment to a growing degree.

Some prime retail space in the city is lying idle, but a relatively recently launched local authority led initiative, Creative Limerick: Connect to the Grid, is aiming to change that by encouraging creative industry university graduates to use these empty spaces to display their work.

One such building is the Thomas Street Retail Centre, which has remained vacant since it was built almost a year ago, and is hopefully on the cusp of being filled, pending planning permission. However, in the meantime, it has been taken over by Creative Limerick to offer local college graduates and creative industry workers a space to work in, albeit temporarily.

One corner of the retail unit has been taken over by a group of artists from the nearby Wickham Street Studios, who are calling their temporary home ‘Occupy Space’. One exhibition has been and gone, and a second has opened.

Unfortunately, while the opening exhibition saw a big crowd on opening night, visitors to the gallery tapered off soon after. The artists are now seeking to rectify that with their second exhibition, by presenting the quirkily titled “I Always Find Art Galleries Hungry Work”, in the space.

“The first exhibition went great, we had massive crowd on opening night, but it was a bit quiet after that. People aren't really aware there is a gallery there and it is open,” explained local artist Emmet Kierans.

“The title comes from the fact that our lease is dependent on whether someone takes over the space or not - so if we get moved, we will end up in another part of town, that is the reasoning.

“I think it is that image that we are looking at and that decided what pieces we would put into the show; a lot of people are almost afraid to come into the gallery, we found a lot of people were looking in the window, but wouldn't step through the door, so we are trying to express that idea that art is kind of tough-going. It is a light hearted look at that idea,” he laughed.

The group of five artists, including Kierans, Rory Prout, Donough McNamara, Alan Crowley and Ramon Kassam, have “a mutual connection that transcends beyond the visual”, states the blurb about the show. The exhibition aims to show how the artists experience and interpret their pluralistic environments through a variety of media, it also states.

“It is interpreting the way people look at contemporary art I think,” explained Emmet, whose own contribution to the exhibition is a life-sized wax sculpture of a man, “inhabiting the space”.

“Donough has done a massive painting onto the gallery wall itself and there are small oil and canvas pieces, and there are old-school block prints, so there is a nice mixture of styles,” he explained.

The concept of Creative Limerick is a simple one; use these spaces while they are not being used, and project manager Lise Ann Sheehan notes that not only are creative industries being supported in Limerick, property owners are also seeing their premises being kept active and in the public eye - a win-win situation if ever there was one.

Gordon Kearney, from Rooney Auctioneers, who is the estate agent for the retail centre, said at the launch of the scheme that “landlords are very supportive of the project and think it’s a very clever initiative which will bring a bit of life back to their premises”.

The exhibition will run until February 7, Wednesday to Saturday, 12-5pm and, as Emmet noted, “anyone can pop in”.

“There will always be someone there that can help people out if they don't really understand what it's all about,” he added.

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