Childhood and nostalgia colour City Gallery shows

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Integral to the LCGA exhibitions on Thursday July 16 was artist Vanessa Donoso-López, with part of her installation 'Eyes Before E Except After See'    Photograph: Liam Burke/ Press 22
Integral to the LCGA exhibitions on Thursday July 16 was artist Vanessa Donoso-López, with part of her installation ‘Eyes Before E Except After See’
Photograph: Liam Burke/ Press 22

LIMERICK City Gallery of Art drew viewers, artists and curators from all over for its launch of three shows, with Anne Davoren of West Cork Arts Centre in town to officiate. The primary exhibitions are Vanessa Donoso-Lopez’s ‘Eye before e, except after see’ and a sculpture based show, ‘At a time’, by Daphne Wright.

Fine art photography in the back room from LCGA’s Permanent Collection is by three artists; more of these again.

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Talking to gallery director/ curator Una McCarthy, she underlines the ongoing concept of staging an established artist’s mid career retrospective, in this instance Daphne Wright, with that of an emerging principal – Donoso-Lopez’ colourful works upstairs.

Exhibiting artist Daphne Wright, artist Alice Maher and Ann Davoren, director of West Cork Arts Centre, Uileann who had launch honours Photograph: Liam Burke/ Press 22
Exhibiting artist Daphne Wright, artist Alice Maher and Ann Davoren, director of West Cork Arts Centre, Uileann who had launch honours
Photograph: Liam Burke/ Press 22

“I inherited Vanessa’s show from my predecessor Helen Carey but due to a series of events, was left without one for downstairs. Previously, from Uileann, the West Cork Arts Centre, I knew of Daphne’s exhibition and went and saw it. She is represented by Frith Street Gallery which is eminent in London and her work comes in many shapes, styles, sizes”.

Wright’s profile has dimmed a tad in her native Ireland for this Longford woman and she has not shown in Limerick since 2006, then at this municipal gallery. Working in ceramics, sound, video, paper, she has since cut “a really serious, significant, high worth profile in Britain”.

Having been deputy director at Arnolfini in Bristol, one of six key visual art organisations in the UK, McCarthy was able to bring various pieces in from Bristol, London and Cork to create ‘At a time’. Children and childhood make for one theme.

Vanessa Donoso-Lopez is from Barcelona and is working in Ireland for the past decade, Britain previously.

Artist Aideen Barry with Daire (16 weeks) and Naoise (3) and artist Alice Maher Photograph: Liam Burke/ Press 22
Artist Aideen Barry with Daire (16 weeks) and Naoise (3) and artist Alice Maher
Photograph: Liam Burke/ Press 22

“That these two artists’ shows are happening here at the same time is really a happy coincidence,” the curator feels. Describing the Catalan’s installations as “light, bright, exciting”, there is an exploration of homesickness. Helen Carey of Fire Station Artists, who programmed this show for Limerick, refers to the far reaching melancholy of displaced souls as ‘the ache of the uprooted plant’ in her essay on Donoso-Lopez.

For this artist, there’s a confessed meditative quality to the early process of moulding and firing ceramics, then moving on to dig for clay herself, making ever more intricate work from clay and porcelain. Faintly painted hues or not, or firing the clay variously, imbue other qualities. Bone, spaghetti, bold jewellery garland the walls.

One chamber has over 600 pieces; another “like Miss Havisham’s shop” must have a 1000 parts and sparked by the onlooker by sensor, is driven by kinetic energy. It’s a delightful play of inventiveness, this toymaker’s cave of cooky antique lights and twirly dancers on ceramic cupcakes, rainbow fans fanning. There is threaded energy through every delicate moving part and we move from the place of witness to being its lit match.

Una McCarthy, director and curator with Limerick City Gallery of Art and Ann Davoren, director, West Cork Arts Centre Photograph: Liam Burke/ Press 22
Una McCarthy, director and curator with Limerick City Gallery of Art and Ann Davoren, director, West Cork Arts Centre
Photograph: Liam Burke/ Press 22

Limerick City Gallery of Art is open daily until August 28 and late Thursdays until 8pm; Sundays 12-5.30pm. Free to all. Bear in mind that only Limerick and Dublin, at the Hugh Lane, have municipal art galleries providing internationally rated artists, Irish and umpteen other, on a constant basis as resource for and to the public.

                        by Rose Rushe