Ar Muir is ar Tír – Sceitseálacha & Eitseálacha Aniar – Sketches & Etchings from the West

An exhibition of work by

Tomás Ó’ Cíobháin – Deirdre McKenna – Áine Ní Chíobháin

Officially launched by Minister for Arts, Heritage & the Gaelteacht, Jimmy Dennihan at St John’s Arts Centre, Listowel, Co Kerry. June 30 – July 31 2012

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Ar Muir is ar Tír is an exhibition that brings together the work of three artists working in Corca Dhuibhne. In their sketches and etchings from the West the artists explore their strong connections to the landscape, the sea, and the people who live on these dramatic coastal shores. Seamus Heaney once used the word ‘dúchas’ to describe the work of Tomás Ó’ Cíobháin. He described the boldness that a strong sense of belonging can bring to a painting. In fact all three artists can claim that sense of ‘dúchas’ with strong roots in West Kerry that feeds into the variety of work they produce.

Tomás, a long established painter and award winning print-maker, finds inspiration in the fertile or barren characteristics of fields, the wetness and dryness of land’. He celebrates something timeless and monumental, where the weight of the rocks and earthy land stand in stark contrast to his ever-moving seas. While he generally leaves people out of the picture there is always a sense of someone being there. Looking at Tomás’s work you realise that that someone is you; the viewer becomes an all-important part of the artwork.

Briseann an dúchas trí shuile an chait. It is no surprise that Tomás’s daughter Áine found herself immersed in the world of art. Her work is full of the delicate creatures that live in and around our shores. She documents remnants found on our sandy beaches. Seaweeds, shells, insects and more are put on show highlighting the ordinary and elevating what is often over-looked to a position of fascination. Beneath the surface of the sea she shows us the peaceful and visceral beauty of floating jellyfish mesmerizing us with their hypnotic silence.

By contrast to Muintir Uí Chíobháin Deirdre McKenna’s work is full of activity. Shipwrights, sailors and rowers maintain the ancient traditions of seafaring in this modern world. They are more of a celebration of what we have now rather than a nostalgic recollection of the past. Deirdre spends a lot of time engaged in the activities she portrays. Her work demonstrates this strong working knowledge of her subject and an understanding of skills passed down through generations as people have worked on the Atlantic coast.

All three artists bring with them their own unique understanding of the lilting rhythms of the ocean, and the stories of the land that surrounds them. Through their work they explore what is local but they achieve the universal.

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