5 Jun. 2017

Italian students enjoy their experience at The Model

One would be hard pushed to find a harder working set of individuals outside of the legion of volunteers and students whose commitment, talent and dedication, keep The Model ticking over, year round. The Model was recently lucky enough to play host to three Italian students who spent a fortnight of their Erasmus year in Sligo. The students: Martina Pensato, Anna Biferale and Desire Spigali came from Ladispoli, Lazlo, Italy to Ireland to gain experience in the tourism industry and improve their English. During their work experience, the girls learnt the inside business of what it takes to run a contemporary arts centre like The Model. Think Andy, Anne Hathaway’s much harassed character in ‘The Devil wears Prada’ and you’ve got the gist. Just kidding!

In the course of their stay, the student’s invigilated exhibitions, assisted at the front desk and even helped out in the marketing department, where their tech savvy skills were put to good use. Martina Pensato found this exposure to the inner workings of the art world the most valuable aspect of her experience in The Model: ‘I liked the work at the Model because I like to work with art,’ said Martina, ‘We were happy that we choose to work in The Model because we learned that a museum is not just a destination for a day trip, it has it’s own culture that is a way of life.’

Where Martina enjoyed the work, Anna Biferale was preferred the social aspect that being part of The Model entails. ‘The people of The Model are very kind. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with the staff.’ Desire Spigali agreed. ‘The staff of The Model have made the two weeks of our Erasmus that we have spent in Sligo worth our while.’ The students also managed to teach us a thing or two. Several members of The Model staff are now fluent in multiple Italian curse words, which will come in handy, should we are to ever find ourselves offended in Italy.

The Model would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank Martina Pensato, Anna Biferale and Desire Spigali for their hard work. We wish you the best of luck in your future!

Posted By

Rebecca Kennedy

2 Jun. 2017

Ronnie Hughes: Strange Attractors - Walk Through

Ronnie Hughes began his career as an artist after receiving an MA in Fine Art from the University of Ulster. Since then, Hughes has had numerous solo shows in Ireland and taken part in prestigious group shows in New York, Chicago, London and Germany. As an award-winning artist, Hughes has been the selected for highly sought residencies such as a one-year residency in New York, and three-month residencies at Banff Arts Center, Canada and Bemis Arts Center, Nebraska.

As part of a national tour that will see Hughes’ work travel to Limerick City Gallery and The Royal Hibernian Dublin, Hughes’ latest solo show has opened in The Model. ‘Strange Attractors’ is an exhibition of elegant abstracts. Hughes work is complex: registering everything from an existential longing to understand the world to theoretical psychics. Hughes’ work is also aesthetically pleasing, with blasts of clashing colour and kitschy geometrics reminiscent of late 1960’s American interior design.

The ‘Strange Attractors’ journey begins in gallery A. Gallery A houses some of Hughes, small scale more intimate works. Colour Mechanics, (2016) Klacto, (2016) and Polychrome (2016) are stand out pieces. The theory of using a confined small to showcase Hughes smaller works continues into Gallery B, which showcases dynamic pieces like Cascade (2017), Palette (2017) & Limbo (2017). Gallery C, D and East present Hughes’ larger, visually dominating works. The lofty spaces balances the larger pieces well, particularly Badass (2016) and Klikkak (2015), by setting them opposite other pieces, creating a confrontational effect between these strange attractors.

As well as painting, Hughes show offers a series of gouache drawings. The symmetry of line created within Propus I, Propus II and Propus III, located in Gallery C, are heavily reminiscent of infamous imagery of theoretical physics and science fiction, making the exhibition a very optically interesting experience. Hughes ‘Strange Attractors’ is not limited to geometrical forms. With the exhibition, strokes of loose, free-forming chaotic lines and shapes appear amongst more, formal structured shapes.

Ronnie Hughes: Strange Attractors will be on show in The Model until 22. Jun. 2017.

Posted By

Rebecca Kennedy

31 May 2017

My Pick - Heike Thiele

As part of our My Pick series we asked Heike Thiele, Assistant Curator at The Model, to choose her favorite work and tell us why.

‘A Sunday Morning in Sligo’ is a watercolour that depicts a young man jumping from a mud bank to a pool below. A friend watches him from the pool as the young man is caught mid-jump, frozen in a fetal position. Onlookers watch the fun as young men splash about in the water, climb the mud bank and plummet once more to the water below.

I like this watercolour in particular because it has an immediacy that some of J.B. Yeats paintings sometimes lack as often they seem to be set on a stage.

‘Sunday Morning’ seems of vital importance, like it’s an experience from his life. The watercolor feels as though it is autobiographical. Maybe J.B. Yeats was swimming himself in the water watching another lad jump in and this is a memory.

I also like that the water is not the sea but that it’s a bit mucky. I find that it feels like a real summer experience and that it’s just gorgeous. I also like that it’s not fully formed and has very few visible outlines. It’s freer than other J.B. Yeats work. It’s really quite painterly and it’s less of a drawing.

‘A Sunday morning in Sligo,’(1898) by Jack B. Yeats is currently featured in “Lives” a Model exhibition in The Niland Gallery. “Lives” will be on display until 01. Oct. 2017.

Posted By

Rebecca Kennedy

30 May 2017

Emer Mc Garry interviews Ronnie Hughes on Strange Attractors

The following text is the synthesis of a number of conversations between the artist Ronnie Hughes and curator Emer Mc Garry regarding his artistic practice.

EM: What is it that excites you about painting?

RH: That’s a very complex question but the obvious things are formal qualities – colour and shape, their relationship and how these are orchestrated to create sensations of pattern, movement and rhythm. I’m also very attuned to the sensuous qualities of paint and how a painting’s surface can hold or reveal a sense of how it was made i.e. the artist’s touch (or not). Allied to the content matter this is often a big factor in how we respond as viewers. Thirdly I like that a painting surface can often contain and reveal the history of its own making – time condensed, as it were.

EM: Can you expand on this idea of the visual compression of time?

RH: Well, bearing in mind that a painting may be over a number of months or even years, a work can often betray the physical evidence of this process in different way; accumulations of paint or, conversely, signs of attrition and sometimes by the sheer complexity of image parts. In my own work the process is one of trail, error and response and I’m interested in ‘finding’ the finished work. When a particular state doesn’t feel resolved I like to try to add another level that doesn’t completely obliterate what was there before. In other words I (usually) actively try this temporal sense into the painting or drawing.

EM: How do you title your work?

RH: Once the work is finished, and documented, I try to sit down and work out what the title it. I find this very difficult as I think titles are very important signifiers to not only how an artist thinks about that particular work, but perhaps the work in general. I like the title of to be poetic: I like it to situate the viewer in a particular area but, perhaps conversely, to open up possibilities of interpretation. It’s important not to suffocate the viewer. I usually use single word titles. Sometimes the word is used for its meaning, sometimes its sound. Occasionally I invent words. In practical sense it’s also important for me that I will see the painting in my mind’s eye when I hear the title.

EM: Can you talk about the combination of drawing and painting in your practice?

RH: For me drawing is central – painting is, in many ways, just drawing with paint (or an equivalent). It is important to me that there is a ‘drawing’ sensibility at work – I don’t this in a traditional sense but in a spirit of discovery – to ‘draw out’ or ‘draw forth’ – to wrest an idea, a form or an image from the ether. Contrary to much that I was taught at art school I discovered that this often times me slow down or work carefully, thoughtfully and methodically.

EM: You mentioned during our studio visit that you look at your work with a ‘quizzical eye.’ At other times you have referred to your work requiring ‘curious viewers.’ Is this kind of reflection or investigation intrinsic to your work?

RH: I think that art is at its most gripping when it both attracts and resists us – when it garners our attention but refuses to be submissive. I like the idea of making art that acts as a kind of conundrum – what is this I’m looking at? What is the pattern and why? What values are at work? How do I feel or what do I think?

EM: It is clear there is a stylistic diversity in your paintings. How do you achieve this and why is it important to you?

RH: An old teacher of mine (performance artist Alastair MacLennan) used to say that your thumb and forefinger look very different buy they belong to the same hand. I’m very resistant to the idea of ‘style’ – bearing in mind that this can be born our of habit or, more accurately, lazy research methods. I try to foster an experimental and creative approach and I’m happy for work to engender variety. That said it is one of the inescapable paradoxes of art-making that more, and longer, one labours then the more the work can be ‘tied up like a sausage’ (to quote de Kooning).

EM: You have said previously that what interests you most as a painter is plasticity. Can you expand on this idea?

RH: Simply put: I like the idea of malleability, of transformation – in materials, processes, configurations and ideas.

EM: Your work over the years has moved from representation to pure abstraction. Can you tell us more about this change and why it happened?

RH: Well first of all let me say I don’t believe in the concept of pure abstraction! There is always representation, allusion and suggestion. At one time I used to make work that used to recognisable images to try to eke out ideas or expressions about particular thematic issues. At a certain point I wondered what would happen if I emptied out the symbols and tried to work without reference to essentially linguistic ideas. I soon discovered that this was a folly as the world follows you into the work anyway. This freed me to just be in my work without worrying about steering it. So in a sense there was no real rupture in how I worked; a shift of emphasis perhaps.

EM: Is there a grammar and syntax to how you work out your paintings? How do you find a balance in your work that is coherent?

RH: I think most creative endeavours (art, writing, music, film et al.) are ultimately determined, or resolved, by grappling with problems of structure – organising parts into coherent whole. This fundamentally formal problem is, as you note, one of finding balance. Each new work creates a different, and complex, set of conditions to respond to and of course with the flow of time one presumes we respond differently too.

EM: There is a three-dimensionality to your finished paintings. Do you feel your painting practice ever slips into object-making? Why do you make paintings and not sculpture?

RH: I’m completely in the world of object making! I’m very conscious of making an actual thing as opposed to merely an image or illusion. Over the years I’ve made a number of works that would be considered as sculpture and I prefer to be described as an ‘artist’ rather than as a ‘painter’, but the simple fact is that I enjoy the minimal directness of painting and drawing. It’s about desire.

Posted By

Rebecca Kennedy

23 May 2017

The Model presents Cairde Visual Submissions Open / Deadline June 12th

(Heidi Wickham, Emer Mc Garry, Tara Mc Gowan and Cormac O’Leary. Image by Barra Cassidy)

In 2013, a group of established Sligo based artists came together with Cairde Sligo Arts Festival with an aim to create a significant, international open submission exhibition for the North West. Cairde Visual was born and the first annual submission took place in The Hyde Bridge Gallery in 2014. The exhibition has, in a short space of time, become a much-anticipated feature in the arts festival’s programme and in the cultural calendar of the region, not to mention an increasingly important fixture for artists all over Ireland and abroad. The third annual exhibition in 2016 boasted over 70 artworks from local, national and international artists, featuring a great diversity of media.

The Model came on board as a collaborative partner in 2015, offering The Model Cara Award – a short-term residency in The Model’s artist studio. Recipients of the Model Cara award to date have been Helen Blake in 2015 and both Daniel Chester and Selma Makela in 2016.

The move of Cairde Visual to The Model for 2017 is an exciting development for all concerned. Director of Cairde Sligo Arts Festival, Tara McGowan, believes that the collaboration with The Model will further enhance the reputation of the annual exhibition. ‘We are delighted to collaborate with The Model as one of Ireland’s leading arts centres. The phenomenal growth and success of the exhibition over the past three years has lead to an increase each year in submissions. The Model’s beautiful gallery spaces will ensure that we can showcase selected works in the best possible way”.

Acting Director at The Model, Emer McGarry is equally looking forward to collaborating with Cairde Sligo Arts Festival on Cairde Visual. “Part of the core work of The Model is to offer opportunities for the development of professional artists. We are delighted to partner with Cairde Visual in 2017 and to extend the opportunity for local, national and international artists at all stages in their careers to submit work for consideration. We believe that we can bring our expertise and experience to the progression of this Sligo-based open submission exhibition”

Submissions are now being accepted for this year’s Cairde Visual. Guidelines and submission forms are available at www.cairdefestival.com and also at The Model reception desk. The deadline for receipt of applications is June 12th 2017.

Posted By

Rebecca Kennedy

10 May 2017

Interview: Steve Wickham

(Photography by Paul Mc Manus)

Steve Wickham is a true Sligo treasure. As a long-serving member of The Waterboys, the Dublin born violinist has travelled the globe collaborating and performing live with the likes of Bob Dylan, U2, REM, Elvis Costello, The Hothouse Flowers and Sinead O’ Conner. Wickham is a resident studio artist at The Model. It isn’t an all too uncommon occurrence to hear the sound Wickham’s soaring violin spilling from the window of his studio whilst passing below. It’s a bit like having Madonna in the attic, really.

Safe to say, we consider ourselves very lucky to have him. Having had such a prolific career, it is no surprise that Wickham is gearing up to release his second solo album, Beekeeper. In preparations for the launch of the album (taking place at 8pm, Fri. 12 May in The Model) Steve Wickham sat down with our marketing assistant, Rebecca Kennedy to discuss Beekeeper, inspiration, and Sligo.

Can you tell a bit about how Beekeeper came about?

I was sitting for a painting for Nick Miller in his studio up in Rathcormac for about a week. I asked Nick was it okay for me to bring my violin because it’s kind of boring to just sit there. He was into it. I brought the fiddle and improvised while he painted me. I brought a recorder to tape all the tunes and in the end I had hours and hours of improvised music. As I was collating the music, I realized I wasn’t ready just yet to make that album yet but it sparked the creative juices to put out a solo album so I did. I recorded some of it in my studio. The creative process was spurred on by being in The Model. I wrote ‘Song of Lost Things’ in The Model and ‘The Hare.’

Your music is such an eclectic mixture of sound. What goes through your head while your writing?

It’s one song at a time. I never think, ‘Oh, I have an album here.’ I had a lot of pieces that were saying to me ‘what are you going to do with me?’ I kind of answer them by saying; ‘I’m going to put you all in an album.’ I had a great producer working with me, a guy called, Joe Chester. He’s actually an old friend of mine. He was in The Waterboys. He’s an Irish producer who worked with Hozier. He has a great aesthetic. When you’re working on things yourself, you’re too close to them. Like a curator in an art gallery, a producer can step back from an artists’ work to actually look at it. So, I’d a lot of help from Joe and some of the guys in The Waterboys. I also had help from Brian Mc Donagh with whom I began the recording process.

How does your experience as a solo artist compare to your experience of being in a band?

When you find yourself in any sort of group, there’s a group dynamic to be aware of. When you are part of a band of musicians, you must find the dynamic. Find your own place within it. That place, where you can give most of your musical self. The lead singer or songwriter is generally the leader of the band. I am primarily a violinist and most of my career has been spent supporting the song and the singer and for the most part this has been completely fulfilling for me. With this record I’ve had to stand up more to the fore which is a bit more daunting but fun too, especially with a great band behind me.

If you could describe Beekeeper in three words, what would they be?

A hive of songs…or a deadly buzz!

Posted By

Rebecca Kennedy

3 May 2017

Interview: New Irish Directors

New Irish Directors is a short series of film at the Model curated by Edel Doherty. To get under the skin of New Irish Directors, Rebecca Kennedy sat down with Edel to discuss the series and what it has to offer Sligo audiences.

Why the focus on Irish director’s?

It’s an exciting juncture. A new wave directors have been are being recognised in at Toronto, Cannes & the Berlinale. The directors in the series are quite contemporary. Some of the classic themes of Irish cinema are still there but they are being teased out in a more nuanced way. The way the film industry has moved in the past in that Irish film relied on outsider funding from Britain in the form of co-productions. Now, more and more co-production with Irish cinema is happening with other European countries. This is having an impact on how Irish directors are telling their stories; they becoming far more international and far less parochial. It’s an exciting time in the history of Irish cinema.

Is there anything regarding visuals or storytelling that separates Irish directors from their international counterparts?

Lenny Abrahamson for example is on his way to having a very distinct body of work. We don’t have a distinct visual director. We haven’t got a David Lynch or a Jean-Luc Godard in amongst our directors but we are terrific storytellers. Irish directors are catching up with their international counterparts in that sense. You know, a lot of stories have come out recently about our collective past. Stories of the Catholic Church and government corruption that we see continue even past reports and tribunals. Our filmmakers are not afraid to touch on that, even directly at times. It’s something you can really say about Irish film. We are fearless storytellers.

What film from the series would you most recommend and why?

Our last film Mammal is a complicated film on grief and loss. The Young Offenders is a sophisticated, pure comedy with some really beautiful, natural scenes. Each one shows something different. When it came to curating the series, we wanted the films to compliment each other and we wanted a balance overall.

If I had to choose one I would pick Further Beyond. There are a few reasons I would choose that. It’s our only documentary in the series. Dramas and fictions tend to get a bigger audience but so much creativity is happening with documentaries at the moment. The word “hybrid” is thrown around a lot with films like this. I think that Further Beyond is more of a film essay. And it has a Sligo connection.

It charts the journey of Ambrosio O’ Higgins who’s family were forced to leave their lands in Sligo and eventually travelled to what is now modern Chile. His son, Bernardo O’ Higgins was one of the first leaders of Chile after they gained independence from Spain. The film charts his journey by taking you to key locations that let you grasp some clues as to who this individual was. Further Beyond explores immigration and identity; themes that are at the core of any Irish film. We are looking at our past, our politics and our identity, at times very humorously.

Posted By

Rebecca Kennedy

2 May 2017

Guest Blog - Nicola Evans on ‘The Art of Drawing with Michael Wann'

Nicola Evans has been volunteering at The Model for over a year. As a marketing professional, Nicola lends her expertise one morning a week to The Model. As well as a passion of PR & marketing, Nicola harbors a fine talent for drawing. To improve upon her skills and make the most of The Model’s phenomenal education programme, Nicola recently took part in Michael Wann’s class ‘The Art of Drawing’. Michael Wann is a celebrated artist famous for his wonderful charcoal work that artfully weave technical skill with nuanced emotion. He has been the recipient of countless prizes and awards such as the AXA Insurance Drawing Prize & the Tom Caldwell Drawing Prize. In this short guest blog, Nicola tells us about her experience in The Art of Drawing and why you should consider taking the class.

“I always dreamed of the day when I could take an afternoon off from work weekly to pursue a hobby and so it was with great anticipation that I signed up for Michael Wann’s drawing class.

I had not drawn for a while – so it was quite nerve wracking walking in – especially knowing what Michael could achieve with charcoal. However, the class couldn’t have been more relaxed. All the artists in attendance varied in levels of experience. Michael is a patient, encouraging instructor that gave us direction when we needed it.

Us newcomers started off by learning the fundamentals of art like perspective and how to create dimension & tone. Michael really encouraged us to experiment and take drawing at our ease. ‘Loosen up’ and ‘make a mess’, he would often say, ‘accidental marks are often the ones that make a drawing come alive’.
After our crash course on the essentials, we moved onto landscapes. It’s so easy to lose yourself when drawing big open skies; time just seems to disappear.

By the time the final class rolled around, my technical drawing skills had definitely improved. I was becoming braver using charcoal, less precious about creating a masterpiece and just having fun experimenting and exploring the millions of different effects you can get from a burnt piece of willow.

The class was a very relaxing experience. It felt like yoga for the mind & thanks to Michael, I am very inspired to continue drawing in the future.”

Posted By

Rebecca Kennedy

16 Apr. 2017

Sean Larkin - New Studio Artist Profile

What is your practice?

Fine Art Painting.

How did you come to rent a studio at The Model?

The Model is recognized as one of Ireland’s leading contemporary arts centers, and as such presents itself as a stimulating cultural site which offers a range of supports and opportunities for collaboration with fellow artists as well as potential projects with high artistic and educational merit. The Artist Studios at the Model makes it a site of artistic production and an opportunity to present work to interested audiences, which I see as vitally important. Networking opportunities with other arts professionals is equally important to artists so when a Studio became available in early 2016, I couldn’t resist the opportunity.

How does it feel to have the space to work?

What excites me most about the space when I walk over the threshold into the studio is the feeling yes, this is where I want to be – this is the space I want to be in, which is very empowering. I can see my residency in the Model as a catalyst for continuing creative inquiry, creative practice and related research loosely based on cultural signposts.

What are you plans for the future?

What challenges me most about contemporary practice in painting is that it is about change itself, never still, and its capacity for reinventing itself as cultural sign posts is both exciting and surprising given to enormous impact of new media and technologies.

My immediate plan is to sift through the material I have been collecting over the past year and produce a body of work – which will result in an exhibition in the not too distant future while also looking at networking opportunities with other arts professionals.

Could you tell us a little of your background?

I live and work in Sligo. I was educated at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) Dublin & graduated in 1973. I was the former Head of School of Creative Arts at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT) in Dun Laoghaire from 2005 to 2012. I worked at senior management level in the Institutes of Technology sector from 1978 until I retired in 2012. I represented the Institutes of Technology sector, Ireland (IOTI) as Chair of the Working Group on Practice – based Research in the Arts, an advisory group established by the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) with support from the Irish Universities Quality Board (IUQB). I was HETAC external examiner /assessor in Fine Art on a variety of assessment and programme validation panels for the Sector.

I was Head of Department of Art and Design at IADT from 1998 to 2004 and previous to this post was Head of the Department of Humanities at IT Sligo. During this period I was the HETAC nominee on the Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) on the senior cycle Curriculum in Schools Committee. I maintained a link with professional art practice with work represented in public and private and public collections including the Arts Council Collection, Ireland. 

Posted By

Rebecca Kennedy

3 Apr. 2017

Arts and Health Check Up, Check In 2017

This day-long programme, featuring presentations by some of the leading figures working in arts and health in Ireland and the UK, is for healthcare professionals, arts practitioners and anyone interested in learning more about this exciting field. Check Up Check In 2017 is organised by www.artsandhealth.ie (Waterford Healing Arts Trust) and Create, the national development agency for collaborative arts, with local partner the Arts Initiative in Mental Health – a programme of the Mental Health Services Sligo Leitrim. The event is supported by the Arts Council, Sligo County Council Arts Service, HSE North West Health Promotion and The Model. Further details and booking information from www.artsandhealth.ie / 051 842664. The fee for the full day, including lunch, is €20.

Check Up Check In 2017 provides an opportunity for those working and interested in arts and health to share their experiences, exchange ideas and support and inspire each other in their practice. The exciting line-up of guest speakers from the arts sector and healthcare in Ireland and the UK includes Patrick Fox, director of the UK agency Heart of Glass, award-winning artist and theatre maker Mark Storor, Dr Regina McQuillan, palliative medicine consultant at St Francis Hospice in Dublin and artist and filmmaker Marie Brett. Arts and health projects to be showcased on the day will include a 12-year inter-generational project in the UK, a photographic project in a nursing home in County Galway, a community based arts and wellbeing programme and open studio in County Kildare and a theatre project in a palliative care setting in Dublin.

Arts and health programmes comprise a range of arts experiences, presented in healthcare settings, for the benefit of health service users, healthcare staff and artists. This expanding field of work fosters creativity, wellbeing and access to the arts and is based on partnership between the artists, arts organisations and those working in healthcare and/or the wider community. Further information about all aspects of arts and health work, including case studies, is available on www.artsandhealth.ie

Additional info:
Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT) brings arts experiences to the bedsides of patients at University Hospital Waterford and other healthcare settings. WHAT supports the development of arts and health in Ireland and manages the national website www.artsandhealth.ie
Create is the national development agency for collaborative arts and provides advice and support services to artists and arts organisations working collaboratively with communities in social and community contexts. www.create-ireland.ie
The Arts Initiative in Mental Health (AIMH) is a programme of the Mental Health Services Sligo-Leitrim . AIMH aims to engage artists and service users in interesting and meaningful art-making, make visible arts and health work both within the mental health setting and publicly, where appropriate, and increase access to the arts by service users and healthcare professionals.

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The Model