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Visual Arts Touring Productions


A Name Unmade, Francis Ledwidge (1887-1917)

Solstice Arts Centre (27 April - 16 June 2017) 

Ebrington Barracks Derry (5 July - November 2017)

Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris (25 January - 13 May 2018)

An exhibition marking the centenary of the death of Francis Ledwidge  

Featuring work by Sven Anderson, Patricia Burns, David Farrell, Clare Langan, Mick O’Dea, Niamh O’Malley and Sasha Sykes  

Curated by Sabina Mac Mahon, Curator in Residence, Solstice Arts Centre, 2017  

It is too late now to retrieve  
A fallen dream, too late to grieve  
A name unmade, but not too late  
To thank the gods for what is great;  
A keen-edged sword, a soldier's heart,  
Is greater than a poet's art.  
And greater than a poet's fame  
A little grave that has no name.  

Opening on Poetry Day Ireland in the centenary year of Francis Ledwidge’s death, A Name Unmade: Francis Ledwidge (1887-1917) is an exhibition of new and recent work by contemporary visual artists presented in response to the life and work of the Meath poet, naturalist, activist, nationalist, and soldier. Select archival and biographical material, as well as excerpts from Ledwidge’s poems, will also accompany the show. 

Francis Ledwidge, who was born and lived most of his life just outside Slane village, was killed in action during preparations for the Third Battle of Ypres on 31 July 1917. Frequently referred to as “the poet of the blackbirds”, his early work was inspired by the countryside of his home county, a subject he returned to with poignant longing in more mature works written following his enlistment in October 1914. While his posthumous status has, somewhat unfairly, been reduced to that of “war poet”, the majority of his works focus on an emotionally intense exploration of the intimate and complex connection he felt to the landscape in which he grew up.  

Taking as its title a line from Soliloquy, one of Ledwidge’s best-known poems, this exhibition aims to re-introduce Ledwidge, his life-story and his work to the wider Irish public by exploring, both in relation to Ledwidge and in a wider sense, the conjoined themes of love and loss (of home, friendship, family, romantic love, place, idealism) that were central to his work.  

The exhibition will be accompanied by a full programme of education and family events as well as the display of Francis Ledwidge: Ireland’s Soldier Poet, a graphic novel produced by the Nerve Centre, Derry-Londonderry, as part of their Creative Centenaries project. Sabina Mac Mahon as Curator in Residence 2017 is supported by The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon.  



The Yellow River - Sean McSweeney & Gerard Smyth 

Solstice Arts Centre, Navan (28 January - 23 March 2017)

Triskel Christchurch, Cork City  (7 September - 16 December 2017)

The Yellow River is a tributary of the Blackwater (Kells), which joins the Boyne at Navan, County Meath that unites the personal histories of poet Gerard Smyth and artist Sean McSweeney. Gerard Smyth spent many summers in Meath staying with his grandmother and an aunt, whilst originally Sen McSweeney’s family lived in Clongill until the untimely death of his father. 

Over two years Gerard Smyth revisited Meath in further inquiry with Belinda Quirke, Director of Solstice, in the development of a new suite of poems, recollecting and revisiting significant sites of occurrence in the poet’s and county’s history. Sean McSweeney created new work from trips to his original home place and the county. McSweeney here responds lyrically to particular sites of Smyth’s poetry, whilst also depicting in watercolour, ink, tempera and drawing, the particular hues of The Royal County. 



Just Left of Copernicus - Niamh McCann 

VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art, Carlow,  (3 October 2015 – 3 January 2016)

Limerick City Gallery of Art, Limerick (21 January – 24 March 2016)

Solstice Arts Centre, Navan (1 September – 21 October 2016)

Just left of Copernicus (The Pastoral) is the third and final manifestation of Niamh McCann’s touring exhibition Just Left of Copernicus produced by Solstice Arts Centre. Each of its previous manifestations, at both Visual, Carlow (Roof of the Story) and Limerick City Gallery of Art (A Prologue) were individual to each space. McCann collaborated with architects Jack Byrne and Séamus Bairead to develop the large scale structure/object Copernicus for Now. This aspiring structure/object is made of industrially produced cardboard tubes and plywood. A section of background landscape in the infamous photograph of Armstrong on the moon, as well as ideas contained within B Fuller’s ‘Spaceship Earth’, are amongst references for the work. Copernicus for Now is both object and event, a crater-like landscape for visitors to occupy and events to take place. 

The interchange and flow of fact and fiction, and the overlapping layers of history and fable within the work of German architect Hans Poelzig is of particular interest to McCann. Poelzig is perhaps best known for his design and build of the Poelzig Building (IG Farben building), Frankfurt Germany, a site of dramatic historic 20th century importance. Poelzig was also a painter and scenographer of the influential silent horror The Golem: How He Came Into the World (1920). 

2013 - 2014

The Work of Micheal Farrell 

Solstice Arts Centre, Navan (22 August - 19 October 2013)

Crawford Art Gallery, Cork (9 November 2013 - 4 January 2014)

RHA, Dublin (16 January - 23 February 2014)

Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris (14 March - 27 April 2014)

The work of Micheal Farrell is an exhibition spanning the career of one of Ireland’s most accomplished artists. Produced by Solstice Arts Centre, the exhibition aims to not only celebrate the work of Micheal Farrell but to encourage a re-evaluation of the artist’s contribution to Irish life as an artist, and as a cultural commentator. Farrell’s diverse and engaging work spans over 40 years evolving from an objective, cool abstract formalism, exemplified in the Celtic and Pressé works, to a more subjective figurative expression evidenced in the Pressé Politique and Miss O’Murphy/Madonna Irlanda.  The later works being predominantly concerned with issues surrounding Irish identity, politics, culture and history. 

A graduate of St Martin´s School of Art, London, Farrell emerges as one of the most interesting of the group of Irish artists who engaged with Modernist art in the 1960s. Visits to Donegal, London, Paris and New York in the mid-1960s resulted in a body of innovative Celtic series. Working mainly in the new medium of acrylic, Farrell’s intention was to recapture the formal vibrancy of Irish illuminated manuscripts combining geometric and organic elements with the Celtic. His renderings were in tune with the hard-edged abstraction then current internationally. 

Disturbed by events in Northern Ireland, Farrell making his acceptance speech for the main award at the 1969 Irish Exhibition of Living Art, at the Crawford Art Gallery, condemned the situation in Derry and British policy in Northern Ireland, announcing that he would no longer exhibit in the North, “until that State has achieved the basic fundamental of a decent society”. He saw the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings in marking his pivotal shift from objectivity to subjectivity, but it was more a shift in intensity in the imagery he was creating. Rather than appealing vaguely to a utopian ideal of remote Celtic ancestry, as he had done previously, Farrell addressed the bloody, intractable nature of contemporary Ireland beginning an acerbic examination of what Ireland had become. In Farrell’s reworking of A Female Nude Reclining on a Chaise-Longue (c.1752) by François Boucher (1703-1770) otherwise known as Miss Marie-Louise O’Murphy, the Irish mistress of Louis XV, she becomes Madonna Irlanda, the personification of Ireland, one scandalously at odds with conventional, pious stereotypes. While he is clearly equating Ireland with the courtesan, he’s also implying that his subject is being exploited and abused. 

His self-portraits echo his critical analysis of Ireland, suggesting a crisis of masculinity, something that becomes a significant preoccupation that treads a fine line between self-pity and ruthless self-examination. Although he emigrated to France in 1971 with his family, partly as a result of the negative reception when he declared his political position at the ROSC exhibition, Farrell continued to exhibit regularly in Ireland, and in the years following he evolved a personal style in which figurative elements again reappear, often relating to his own particular status and condition, linked with that of his native country. 

Dawn Williams, Curator, Crawford Gallery, Cork. 

The Work of Micheal Farrell is produced by Solstice Arts Centre with support of the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon in realising this touring exhibition. A full colour catalogue accompanies this exhibition. 

2011 - 2012

Engaging with Glass 

Solstice Arts Centre, Navan (7 June - 16 July 2011)

Travers Gallery, Tacoma, Seattle, USA (21 April - 27th May 2012)

Engaging with Glass presents a selection of contemporary glass artwork from Irish artists working at home and abroad. Following an international call for submissions, glasswork was selected for the exhibition by Dr. Audrey Whitty, Curator of Ceramics, Glass and Asian collections at the National Museum of Ireland and Tina Oldnow, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Glass at the Corning Museum of Glass, New York, USA. The exhibition features 72 pieces by 41 artists. 

Engaging with Glass forms part of a series of events that mark Ireland hosting the World Crafts Council – Europe, General Assembly and the Crafts Council of Ireland designation of Year of Craft 2011. These events are presented in partnership with Solstice Arts Centre, The Glass Society of Ireland, Meath County Council Arts Office and the Crafts Council of Ireland. Co-ordinators are Dr. Caroline Madden, Belinda Quirke and Deirdre Rogers 


Charles Tyrrell 

Solstice Arts Centre, Navan (24 March - 6 May 2011)

Crawford Art Gallery, Cork (13 May – 2 July 2011)

RHA, Dublin (11 September - 21 December 2011)

Having spent his formative years in Meath, Charles Tyrrell has lived and worked in the Beara Peninsula for nearly twenty years and this new body of work celebrates the artist's strong connections with Meath and Cork. 

Patrick Murphy has commented that for nearly 30 years now, critics have from time to time sought, without success, to root Tyrrell's abstraction into his West Cork landscape. At times, Tyrrell seems to admit some oblique reference but then squeezes out any iota of that possibility. If this present suite of paintings has any such reference it is not to the topographical but the tectonic. 

Tyrrell's abstract canvases juxtapose meditative qualities alongside a darker underbelly in which the layers of paint, often scraped back and reapplied, invites yet rebuffs, the viewer from gaining evidence of what lies beneath. Each work that Tyrrell creates organically from his previous canvas engenders a narrative or conversation between the compositions. Shown together at the Crawford Art Gallery, they illustrate the fact that his paintings have got ever more simple and rigorous, and within this defined arena his painting has got more complex and capable of embracing fact and metaphor with equal passion.