Blue House Gallery opened its post-pandemic doors on Saturday July 4, having abandoned its 2020 exhibition schedule in favour of a rolling group show, in tandem with small solo exhibitions. Since opening, the Gallery has experienced considerable visitor interest and, even in straitened times, work has been selling off the walls without sales being confined to small and accessible pieces. The intention is to exhibit a range of new work every two weeks across the Gallery group of artists.
The first of the solo exhibitions celebrates a turn in direction for one of West Cork’s long-established and popular artists. When Etain Hickey closed her shop in Clonakilty after 15 year in order to devote herself to new directions, this change led to a small solo show of her current decorative and figurative ceramics. Etain combines strong colour and fluent draughtsmanship with wit and observation in her depiction of the human and animal worlds.
The following solo exhibition from August 14 will be Kym Leahy’s vibrant small abstracts that challenge the viewer’s sense of stability by their intense movement and deeply emotional colouring. Here the artist is searching in her work for the quiet spaces in life amidst the turmoil of multiple planes and angular perspectives. Small in scale, powerful in their dynamics, the works sing off the wall.
Bringing new artists into the Gallery continues to be essential to maintaining vitality and relevance to the artistic community. With this in mind, names new to Schull will be seen over the August / September period such as three innovative sculptors from the Backwater studios in Cork; Ben Reilly, Luke Sisk and Peter Nash who with local sculptor Ian McNinch celebrate personal visions of what can be done with materials, with movement and with humour. Ben Reilly’s ‘Bladder Head’ in steel and bronze is both enigmatic and provocative.
Photography as an art form does not receive as much attention as other traditional media. The Gallery’s photographers, Melanie Black, Richard Breathnach, Geoff Greenham and Orla Lavelle, demonstrate the beauty and originality of contemporary photography.
For colour alone, the painter Ian Humphries takes no prisoners as his small panels exult in such joie de vivre that they fill the Gallery with boundless optimism. More subtle are works by Marina Thomas whose ‘The spring that time stood still’ evokes present times, while Ayelet Lalor’s ‘Yellow Glasses’ translates that same topic into personal reflection.