EUROPE'S EDGE  Ireland - The Artist and the Island - December 2010

Tromsø, the regional capital of northern Norway, was the unlikely venue for Irish Art's most recent exhibition Europe's Edge. In what was probably the largest ever showing of Irish contemporary visual art in Norway, the exhibition explored themes as diverse as the styles of the contributing artists.

The exhibition featured work by Brian Bourke, Maurice Caplice, Shane Crotty, Charles Cullen, Rita Duffy, Adrian McAllister, Dara McGee, Rosie McGurran, Jay Murphy, Mick O'Dea, Eamonn O'Doherty, Bernard Reynolds and Ger Sweeney.

Europe's Edge was held in conjunction with the 7th Biennial International Conference of the Nordic Irish Studies Network. The exhibition was launched by His Excellency Gerald F. Ansbro, Ambassador of Ireland on 2 December at the Tromsø University Library Gallery and ran until 13 January.
The exhibition was a great success!

View gallery of the exhibition >>

Europe's Edge was supported by Culture Ireland and the Embassy of Ireland, Norway.

Europe's Edge featured the following artists:

(Please click on the images to enlarge)
 Brian Bourke HRHA - Aosdána.

Born in Dublin in 1936, Bourke must be considered one of the most significant artists working in Ireland today. Essentially a self taught artist, Brian studied for brief periods at both The National College of Art and Design in Dublin and St Martin's School of Art in London. In a career spanning over fifty years, his output has been enormous. This summer saw a major retrospective of Bourke's work at the Galway Arts Festival. The exhibition coincided with the release of his book, Brian Bourke, Five Decades 1960s-2000s (published by Lilliput Press). His works display a great affinity and sympathy for his subject matter, and above all, a wonderful sense of humour.

Europe's Edge featured four pieces from the series Didi, Gogo and the Two Thieves, inspired by Samuel Beckett's absurdist classic Waiting for Godot.

 Maurice Caplice

Maurice Caplice graduated from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin in 2002. In 2005 he achieved a postgraduate diploma in fine art from the Cyprus College of Art.

Though primarily a painter, Caplice also works with assemblage and sound art. Prevalent in most of his works is an irreverent satire on modern Irish society. Although the subject matter may be quite sombre, such as failings in the health system or the current banking crisis, Caplice’s sense of humour and sheer enjoyment is evident.

Maurice Caplice’s contribution to Europe’s Edge consisted of several paintings commenting on Irish current affairs.

 Shane Crotty

Born in County Galway in 1981, Shane Crotty studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, where he graduated with a National Degree in Fine Art Printmaking.

Crotty uses combinations of mediums and methods in his printmaking, as well as working with painting, drawing and digital design. Despite the obvious use of digital technology, Crotty describes the creative process as organic, evolutionary and dynamic. In fact, he feels that the traditional printmaking methods have evolved through the use of the digital medium.

Europe's Edge included work from Crotty's series Love Ireland? and The Third Policeman.

 Charles Cullen – Aosdána

Born in Longford in 1939,Charles Cullen studied Fine Art at the National College of Art in Dublin where he eventually lectured and later served as Head of Painting until his retirement in 2000.He is now working at his art full time with studios both in Dublin and the south of France.

Probably regarded as Ireland's most naturally gifted draughtsman, Charles Cullen has found a long-time source of inspiration in Ulysses. His interpretations of Joyce's complex magnum opus offer the viewer an informed visual accessibility.

Europe's Edge featured four etchings based in Nighttown as described in the Circe chapter of Ulysses.

 Rita Duffy - RUA

Rita Duffy was born in 1959 in Belfast and is a graduate of Fine Art from the University of Ulster. Duffy is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary artists whose work has been at the cutting edge of the interface between culture, politics and art in the last decade. Duffy's work has grown and evolved but remains intensely personal with overtones of the surreal, including themes and images of Irish identity, history and politics.

Rita Duffy contributed to Europe's Edge with several works commenting on aspects of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

 Adrian Henry McAllister

Born in Belfast in 1966, Adrian McAllister attended University of Ulster Art College from 1986 to 1987. After becoming more interested in photographic portraiture, he left art college to teach photography at a number of community based projects in Belfast.

The art of portraiture has always been of interest to McAllister. As a child he was fascinated by the dynamic quality of the draughtsmanship he saw in the poster art on display at the local cinema. Later he drew inspiration from the dramatic graphic style of such seminal poster artists as Robert McGinnis and Jean Mascii.

Europe's Edge included portraits of the acclaimed Irish poets Paul Muldoon and Ciarán Carson.

 Dara McGee

Dara McGee graduated from the University of Ulster with B.A. honours in fine art in 1989. A native Irish speaker, McGee lives and works in the Gaeltacht or Irish-speaking area of south Connemara.

While better known for his work as a designer in theatre and film, Dara McGee's paintings explore his strong link to the islands along the west coast and their people. He has spent time as an artist in residence on Tory Island, Inishturk and Inish Oírr where he has also worked as an art teacher.

Dara McGee contributed to Europe’s Edge with paintings inspired by Inis Oírr, the smallest of the Aran Islands, and his south Connemara surroundings.

 Rosie McGurran

Rosie McGurran is a graduate of Fine Art from the University of Ulster (1992) and an associate member of the Royal Ulster Academy of Arts.

Originally from Belfast, Rosie McGurran lives and works in the remote village of Roundstone on the west coast of Ireland. Her work concerns itself mostly with Roundstone village and the island of Inishlacken, creating a world outside of obvious landscape. Often portrayed at night, and always with a strong connection to the sea, the pictures give a clear sense of the narrative through the often recurring female figures.

McGurran contributed to Europe's Edge with several works reaffirming the sense of living on an island and our connection to the sea.

 Jay Murphy

Born in Dublin, Jay Murphy studied fine art at the Dún Laoghaire School of Art and print in London at the Central School of Art. In 1976 she moved to Connemara in the west of Ireland.

Murphy was founder member of Fior Uisce in Dublin and later the Western Artists which she also chaired. Murphy was also a member of the Island Connection, a group of painters and sculptors who arranged exhibitions on various European islands. She is currently a member of AKIN an artists' collective consisting of five artists based in the west of Ireland.

One constant theme throughout Murphy's work is the balance between Man and Nature; how Nature reclaims itself without the control of Man.

Europe's Edge included the series of pastels entitled The Bishop's Relic.

 Mick O'Dea – RHA, Aosdána

Born in Ennis in 1958, Mick O’Dea studied at the National College or Art and Design and the University of Massachusetts from 1976 to 1981. He was awarded an MFA in European Fine Art from Winchester School of Art after studying in Barcelona and Winchester in 1997.

Mick O’Dea is particularly well known for his portraits and life studies. Also highly regarded for his landscapes, O’Dea took a remarkable departure with the most recent show Black and Tan in March 2010. Working from photographs in his collection and images sourced from the National Archives, O’Dea comments on a brief but traumatic period in Irish history. The show covers the War of Independence from the time of the arrival of the Black and Tans in March 1920 up to the truce in July 1921.

Europe’s Edge hosted work from his series Black and Tan.

 Eamonn O' Doherty

Born in Derry, Eamonn O'Doherty is an accomplished sculptor, painter, printmaker and photographer. Although an outspoken critic of elitism and cronyism in the Irish art establishment, he has won several major awards.

O'Doherty is best known for his many large-scale public sculptures, around 40 of which now stand in Ireland and elsewhere. He is represented in Norway with a four meter high bronze, "The Thin Priest with the Fowling Net", in Selvaag's Peer Gynt Park in Oslo.

Eamonn O'Doherty contributed to Europe's Edge with several bronzes and lithographs.

 Bernard Reynolds

Bernard Reynolds was born in County Sligo in 1952. Having worked in architecture for six years, he decided to become a full-time artist in 1976. He presently lives and works in County Cavan.

Reynolds shows a great maturity and command of his materials, and through his eyes we see the landscape in its various moods. His work captures the flavour and character of a place rather than being merely representational.

Amongst several landscapes included in Europe's Edge was Skellig Michael which was specially created for the exhibition.

 Ger Sweeney

Born in Castlebar, County Mayo, Sweeney completed his diploma in painting in Galway in 1982 before going on to his BA honours degree at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin in 1983. He lectured in Painting and Print at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology from 1983 to 1985. Sweeney was founder member of Artspace Studios in Galway and one of its directors from 1989 to 1996.

Sweeney has become synonymous with the new wave of abstract painting in which aspects of landscape are explored for their tonality and composition.

Ger Sweeney contributed to Europe's Edge with paintings and prints informed by the light and landscape of the west coast of Ireland, where he now lives and works.