November 30, 2012

Luan Gallery, Athlone, Ireland - Inaugural exhibition of the new visual art gallery

Inaugural exhibition: Borrowed Memories 
Luan Gallery, Athlone, Co Westmeath, Ireland
Through 24 February 2013

Borrowed Memories: Exhibition from the Collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art is the inaugural exhibition of the new Luan Gallery, Athlone, County Westmeath, in Ireland, officially opened on Thursday 29 November 2012. 

The name ‘Luan’ derives from the Irish for Athlone, 'Baile Áth Luain' and was proposed as part of a public competition organised to name the new gallery. Designed by Keith Williams Architects, the Luan Gallery is first new visual art gallery to be opened in Ireland in over three years. In its previous incarnations the building which now houses the Luan Gallery has been many things to many people and to the town of Athlone – a library, concert hall, cinema and town hall to name but a few. Commenting on the exhibition Miriam Mulrennan, Manager, the Luan Gallery said: “Rich and colourful memories are associated with the building. Respect for people’s connection to the building formed a centre point in curating Borrowed Memories.” 

Ann Hamilton, Filament II, 1996
Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Purchase, 2002
Courtesy of the IMMA, Dublin

The location of the Luan Gallery, in the centre of Ireland, on the banks of the River Shannon is reflected in the work of American artist Ann Hamilton. Filament II, 1996 comprises a silk organza curtain, which has been distressed by the artist, hanging from a circular rail. It is a sculpture with blurred boundaries and changeable volume and form, at once a public and private space. The curtain envelopes you but is transparent, so a shadowy figure is still visible to others standing outside. The presence or absence of people changes perceptions and experience of the work and in this regard it is interactive and participatory.  

Where Do Broken Hearts Go, 2000, by Longford-born Bristol-based artist Daphne Wright became the lynch pin for the idea of memories and the combination of shadow and light that are our own memories and those of others. Layering plays an important part in Wright’s work and here we see, not only the physical layering of the foil strips to create the giant foil cacti, but also the layering of the different elements which come together to make the entire installation – the folded strips of household tinfoil, the Country and Western lyrics and the intaglio prints made from found photographs by an anonymous photographer. 

Patrick Graham, Ark of Dreaming, 1990
Mixed media on canvas, 180 x 316 cm
Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Purchase, 1991
Courtesy of the IMMA, Dublin

Westmeath-native Patrick Graham’s Ark of Dreaming, 1990, explores both colour and gesture. Words combined with vestiges of figurative imagery, and layers of heavily worked and reworked paint are applied to the canvas which has been ruthlessly split open and crudely stitched together in a diptych suggestive of an alterpiece. 

The work of Irish artist Shane Cullen created from the smuggled messages of the 1981 Maze hunger strikers presents itself to the audience as a forceful narrative of a dark time in our history which demands reflection. Fragmens Sur Les Institutions Républicaines IV, 1993 - 1997 was made over a period of four years and consists of 96 large styrofoam panels, each carrying transcriptions of the secret messages smuggled out of the H-Blocks in the Maze Prison. The subject matter is controversial but presented in a highly disciplined manner that references historical monuments. Each painted word mimics official government documents. 

Works such as Blue Crucifixion, 2003, by Manchester-born, Irish-based artist Hughie O’Donoghue and Dublin-based photographer Amelia Stein’s Memory and Loss, 2002, series of photographs are also shown. Other works shown in the exhibition include Dublin-based artist Amanda Coogan’s photograph Medea, 2001, and Northern Irish photographer Hannah Starkey’s Untitled, August, 1999.

Luan Gallery, Athlone, County Westmeath
Luan Gallery's Website:

Irish Museum of Modern Art's Website: