Exhibitions 2024

Dietrich Blodau:

Two island peoples in the same sea of struggle and hope. Cuba and Ireland.

30th May – 23rd June 2024

Havana Vieja – Lithograph – 52 x 30cm

Custom House Studios + Gallery are pleased to present an exhibition of works by Dietrich Blodau, opening Thursday 31st May, from 6pm – 8pm, will be officially opened by The Cuban Ambassador to Ireland Bernardo Guanche Hernández.

This exhibition gives us a view of the extraordinary achievements of this steadfast, prodigious and committed artist who has contributed so much to the artistic life of Ireland over four decades. The exhibition offers a full range of his highly expressive observational works in print, pastel, aquarelle, and drawing. Pendulating between observations of nature and the built environment; from detailed monochrome line work, to bright, broad brushstrokes. Exhibition continues until Sunday 23rd June, 2024.

Blodau was a founding tutor of the printmaking department at Limerick School of Art & Design, building the facilities to a world class level by the 1980s where the access to printmaking education at the school was brought on a par with European and International peers. He contributed significantly to the early development of the Exhibition of Visual Arts in Limerick, now EVA International – Ireland’s Biennial. He has orchestrated numerous exhibition exchange opportunities for artists practicing in Ireland, to German based venues.

Art Level 6-Class of 2024-End of Year Exhibition

Mayo College of Further Education and Training Westport Campus.

30th May – 23rd June 2024

“Self-Potrait” by Ciara Hession McCormick,
Mixed media on Panel, 100 x 50cm

Bryan Gerard Duffy: Idle Walls

2nd May – 26th May 2024

A game of chess between and artist and a gardener. Acrylic on canvas 90 x 90cm

Idle Walls: Bryan Gerard Duffy

This body of work is a conversation on the societal challenges of retaining one’s tradition, identity, and ancestral roots in the face of adversity, colonialism, nature, A.I. and capitalism. The concept of taking sides is considered while exploring abstraction through transitions of games’ – Bryan Gerard Duffy

Custom House Studios + Gallery is delighted to present a substantial new body of work and solo exhibition by Mayo artist, Bryan Gerard Duffy. ‘Idle Walls’ takes its title from the wall to the fore of the gallery, where seafaring workers would historically have ‘idled’, awaiting the promise of work on the boats in Westport Quay. This vital and topical work is largely comprised of four moveable walls and a moveable wooden ‘well’. The fixtures, which can be wheeled and moved within the space by the audience, are composed of a wooden frame and are un-rendered, making them see-through. 

Exhibition continues until Sunday 26th May, 2024.

These ‘Sailí’* walls, as the artist calls them, house and are adorned with paintings; found objects; small sculptures; cultural motifs, symbols and references; drawings; and a series of letters penned between the artist and a fictional, symbolic character from the Sahrawi Refugee Camps in Algeria, on the edge of occupied Western Sahara. The artist’s penpal waits with her people by a dividing wall, as they have done for nearly five decades, for a UN resolution enacting their right to return to their lands, from which they were forcibly displaced and where capitalist ventures continually exploit valuable natural resources.

These letter exchanges facilitate a narrative that weaves connections for the viewer between the plethora of artworks and objects visible in the walls: a navigational kind of tool for the audience.  Integral to the work, chess games played by the artist at the Sahrawi refugee camp are represented in code form throughout, and in his paintings which depict horticultural elements in grid like formations that mirror the moves of a chess game. Duffy provers that chess is a waiting game and a game of war tactics, and in this instance a vehicle for navigating the complexities of re-presentation, storytelling and activism.

The exhibition also includes the artist’s 2019 award winning short documentary film ‘Delivery’, which charts the journey of the artist to deliver a letter from his Sahrawi friend to the director of the Irish company responsible for the importation of minerals exploited from the occupied territories of Western Sahara, and their distribution on the Irish horticulture market.

Duffy’s aesthetic is colourful, engaging and unsettling. We are drawn in by curiosity for the ‘collection’ of carefully curated items. The colours and textures tell us more of the environments endured in the refugee camps and those romantically envisaged in the coveted, dispossessed homeland.

*The artist describes the wall scupltures as ‘Sailí Walls’, making reference to Sailí or Willow trees, and their significance in ancient Celtic folklore, their invasive roots and ‘magical’ nature. Each wall has been named after a native species of willow.

Deirdre Byrne: The Long Way Round

2nd May – 26th May 2024

The Old Quarry – colour pencil, promarkers, gesso on wood panel, 40 x 60cm.

Deirdre Byrne ‘The Long Way Round’ 

Custom House Studios + Gallery is delighted to present a solo exhibition of mixed media drawings by artist Deirdre Byrne entitled ‘The Long Way Round. 

Byrne, who is based between Wexford and Seville, focuses on themes of environmental psychology and our identity and connection to our natural and built environments. Byrne intends to depict a certain atmosphere in these drawings, in an attempt to capture a sense of place from each landscape encountered. There are several scenes taken from the edge-lands of Doñana National Park, Spain, a major passing place for migratory birds, as well as other sites from the South of Spain, perhaps offering ordinary alternatives to the more popular tourist sites. The artist tries to portray these places, not as a landmarks in their prime, but as interesting views that we find in our path at random..

The artist has created this collection of mixed media drawings, interpreting the dry, flat, landscape, by sketching, photographing and use of satellite images. Byrne has used colouring pencil on board, with promarkers and gesso, sometimes resulting in the illusion of painted surface. Material process often leads her practice, as the artist develops her works. Source images, that Byrne describes having ‘plucked’ from the landscape (ie. cacti; birds nests; smoking forest fires; clouds; and abandoned or disused structures) are starting points that become embedded thematically, such as with the cloud that is sanded out of the satellite image, literally ‘erasing’ the precipitation from the landscape.

The palette is broadly colourful, at times mutedly so, and indicative of the increasingly arid environment, sometimes presenting like a haze of heat and dry terrain. The artist’s use of colour and line quality is very striking, drawing our eyes to hard edges and empty spaces. Moving through and making work in these locations has allowed the artist to draw meaning from, and form affinity to, this previously unfamiliar landscape. Exhibition continues until Sunday 26th May, 2024.

A graduate of NCAD Fine Art Painting and Visual Art Education, Deirdre Byrne is a visual artist based in Wexford and Seville. Her work has been exhibited in Ireland and internationally including in Draíocht, Blanchardstown; 191st RHA Annual Exhibition, RHA, Dublin; 140th RUA Annual Exhibition, RUA, Belfast; Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin; Rizoma Galería, Madrid. Byrne was commissioned to create a new animation to be projected on the exterior of DLR LexIcon in October 2021, funded by Creative Ireland and supported by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Arts Office.

Orla Whelan: Coloured by Weather

5th April – 28th April 2024

Orla Whelan: Coloured by Weather 5th April - 28th April
Moon, Valley, Dew, Death # 138, Oil paint on linen, oak frame 24 x 18cm

Coloured by Weather: Orla Whelan

Orla Whelan is a visual artist whose practice is rooted in painting. In addition to oil paint on linen, she uses non-traditional painting materials which refer to the materiality and tropes of painting. These expanded forms include: wood veneers on panel, painted plywood wedges, modified furniture and site responsive interventions that speak to the history and architecture of particular spaces. She frequently explores the role of writing within visual art practice by creating different author identities and experimental texts that challenge ideas of subjectivity, authorship and meaning.

Recent solo exhibitions include Glas, Gorm, Uaine at the Pearse Museum OPW, Dublin (2023), Magnum Chaos at Hillsboro Fine Art (2023), and I Don’t Need Anything From Here (magic-carpet-painting) at the RHA Gallery (2022). In 2021, Orla took part in Dubliners – The 6th Biennial of Painting in Zagreb, Croatia, in association with Pallas Projects. Recent solo projects include Matter Mammal Oil Soar – an experimental book exploring the relationship between art writing, authorship and painting which was launched at the Dublin Art Book Fair at Temple Bar Gallery & Studios in 2021; A More Immortal Atlas – solo exhibition at Rathfarnham Castle OPW, Dublin (2020); A Falling of the Bright – a site specific commission for Facebook Artist in Residence Program at Grand Canal Dock, Dublin (2019) and Chaos Bewitched, which won the inaugural Merrion Plinth Award, by the Merrion Hotel, Dublin (2019).

Orla’s practice is supported by The Arts Council of Ireland with a Visual Art Bursary in 2022 and 2021. Her work is held in the collections of The Arts Council of Ireland, The Crawford Art Gallery, The OPW State Art Collection, Trinity College Dublin, The Merrion Hotel, Kelly’s Hotel and private collections worldwide. Orla is founder and director of AtHomeStudios a collective of visual artists working from studios based in their own homes, and the art publishing project Whale Dust. She lives and works in Dublin.

Blawnin Clancy: Portals and Pilgrims

5th April – 28th April 2024

‘We might have been along on Earth’ Oil on Birch ply, 50 x 50cm

Portals and Pilgrims: Blawnin Clancy

There is a profound sense of something amorphous yet intensely felt in the work of Blawnin Clancy. Her show at the Custom House Studios and Gallery in Westport was originally called ‘The Shipwreck’ before she updated the title to ‘Pilgrims and Portals’, filling the quayside exhibition space with softly glowing, shadowy figures in cold, exotic landscapes. Inspired by ideas about voyages and discovery, but with a lurking edge of discomfort, not least around the legacy of colonisation, her thoughts coalesced during a residency in Iceland and a studio stay at Lismore Castle Arts in Waterford in 2022. The painted, sanded and reworked layers and silhouette forms that populate this show have been completed in the two and a half years since.

Living on the coast of Co. Waterford, the sea connects her to the wider Atlantic and entices her to investigate experiences of seafaring islanders from both a personal and historical perspective.

Making work influenced by Irish and Icelandic locations, her work speaks to the lure of the unknown and the construct of the remote. She paints speculative happenings on isolated islands, places that lend themselves to fantasy and mythologizing. Interest in these themes has materialised by experiencing artist residencies in rural Iceland, researching the volcanic landscape by walking, reading and recording in sketches and photographs.

Her paintings are made using Umton Barvy paints, she applies this layers of oil paint to gesso primed birch ply, each fine glaze is further manipulated by partially eroding the surface with sandpaper, blocking out areas with masking fluid and then further layering. The glazing process creates a diaphanous and translucent surface, traces of figures or shapes are seen in the underneath layers echoing the strata of time, the ghosts of memory and the world of the sea.

Tim Morris: Boxcars

7th March – 1st April 2024

A fork and three coins

“Boxcars” by Tim Morris.

#boxcars is a work consisting of 110 sculptures, composed of bronze casts of corrugated cardboard ephemera. The imposing work ‘waits’ in the space, calling up intrigue on the juxtaposition of the modelled and cast materials, while conjuring images around the possible uses that these structures might represent, as goods carriers through global Industrial history.

Tim Morris is a sculptor. He runs a foundry at Callow, Foxford. Exhibits his works at Taylor galleries, Dublin.

This exhibition is a show of his new works entitled “Boxcars”.

Daniel Lipstein: Intimate Landscapes

7th March – 1st April 2024

Summer – Oil on Canvas 80 x 100cm

The works in this exhibition are mostly based on where I live in Donegal, and many of them express a metaphysical idea or a personal experience, or both.

Some works are inspired by other places in Ireland including Dublin and County Kildare, and some works are imaginary landscapes amalgamated from an atmospheric feel of different places.

Imaginary or real, each painting and etching expresses intimacy. Either of a connection to a place or of an idea, which the place serves in my effort to express the idea visually.

I usually emphasise the surfaces of the work as cohesive fields of energy, abstract expressionist in style. I strive to achieve unity between my subject matter and the layering of pigments and brushstrokes.

The fish for example is a creature that appears in many of my compositions. I suppose this is because of the antiquity of this species. The fish contains much of the universal data of the prehistorical, the undocumented and the unknown. It is a representation of the unconsciousness, and in my visual compositions I use the fish in many ways.

In “Water” the fish yearn to go back to the ocean while the cat is investigating the water in the bathtub because he is thirsty. For both, the fish and the mammal, water is the focus of their lives.

In “Autumn Stroll”, fish represent abundance, whose origin is usually in the unknown, they fall from heaven into the open umbrella which is a projection of myself, or the viewer. We all hope to be full of fish, in this context and according to this visual language.

Levitation is another element in my work, which I explore in some of these paintings. It marks transcendence, and it inserts into a landscape my intimate feeling of the experience, either being there or painting it, or both.

Ita Freeney: Water’s Edge

8th February – 3rd March 2024

Rain Coming In, Oil on Linen, 56 x 76cm

Water’s Edge: Ita Freeney

This exhibition builds on a series of paintings – Water’s Edge that the artist has been working on over the last 3-4 years. Mood, form and light are the main concerns of the artist in these works. These paintings play with abstraction and representation – finding and emphasising abstract forms in the landscape, while also observing nuances of colour and tone to evoke mood/atmosphere. The artist’s focus lies with horizontals, distance, direction, and echoes.

The boundaries between land and sea – headlands, piers, slipways and approaches to the water are explored. The lightness, airiness and openness of sea and sky is emphasised by the contrast with the land/ built environment. Familiarity and building relationships with the places that inspire, has become a very important element in the work. Many return visits to inspirations in Mayo (with thanks to the Ballinglen Arts Foundation) and  closer to home -East Cork into Waterford, result in getting absorbed in the places, observing them from different vantage points and in different lights.

Uri Blayer: Experiences in the Irish Landscape

8th February – 3rd March 2024

Irish Coast, 35 x 47.7cm

Irish Coast: Uri Blayer

I have been painting landscapes ever since I remember.  My professional adventure began in the Negev Desert where I worked and lived for several years.  After studying art in NY under the guidance of late Prof Lennart Anderson I moved to Hawaii in order to challenge myself with its unique landforms and seascapes. Since then I have travelled extensively to remote locations in search of inspiration and new experiences in painting.  Each location means a fresh look at things. I paint from observation only, and must face the elements over a long period of time until I feel something from the essence of the place, then I translate it into visual language.

I always start and finish a painting outdoors, even if it means carrying a large canvas along with my supplies, easel and palette, to a remote location day after day, sometimes week after week, returning to the same site at the same time of day until the painting is done. To me, the act of painting in awe of nature means being in tune with subtle changes and is essential for achieving another aspect, or quality in a landscape. Most of the works in the show were done over the past three years, some were painted in County Waterford where I reside, while others in the remote Island of Inishmore where I had spent the last summer camping and painting.  Uri Blayer is an Israelian born artist, who now resides in Co. Waterford

Angela Gilmour: Terra Nuillius

11th January – 5th February 2024

80° North, into the pack ice, oil on birch, 86x77cm.

Terra Nullius: Angela Gilmour

Angela Gilmour’s artistic practice highlights the urgency of climate change, land consumption, sustainability and the political and environmental impact of land and sea borders. Primarily a painter, Gilmour’s work also includes drawing, print, photography and installation.
Through a blend of site-specific investigation and scientific research, Gilmour (trained as a physicist) creates paintings, drawings, large-scale photography and etchings to document the sublime beauty created by the entropic forces of weathering on landscapes. Her installations weave scientific equipment and objects of geological importance with detailed botanical drawings, and screen-printed technical diagrams and research data.
Gilmour’s current research investigates the history of Svalbard, in the High Arctic. This Arctic archipelago of nine main islands has often been referred to as Terra Nullius, a term applied by international law to describe an inhabited landmass that is not owned by a single country. Svalbard, a land of extraordinary beauty and fragility, lies at the nexus of politics, science, and Earth’s most extreme climatic changes. Located a mere 10 degrees latitude from the North Pole, it is one of the planet’s most remote locations.
Gilmour’s recent work chronicles the historical importance of Svalbard, with its beginnings in the Devonian age, some 280 million years ago. It was during the Devonian that Earth’s first forests formed, and subsequently, those forests carbonized and became fossil fuels millions of years later. In the 16th century, European explorers landed on Svalbard and the unique Svalbard treaty granted sovereignty to Norway in 1920. Climate change is hastening glacial melting in Svalbard, and the archipelago is in the midst of complex and perilous political and environmental challenges that will impact the archipelago into the future.
Using Svalbard as a focus, Gilmour’s work explores narratives that question our ability to balance progress with the preservation of the environment.

Carrowbeg Artist Group: So Nice Day

11th January – 5th February 2024

Image: photo Christine Prescott

Participating artists;  Ellen Cafferkey,  Una Kearns, Trish Kelly, Anna Rose Lowry, Gerry O’Malley, Sarah Kelly and Máire Maguire.

Artist Christine Prescott worked with the Carrowbeg Artists Group, a group of artists with intellectual disability who have been creating for 13 years under the guidance of Caroline Masterson, Breda Burns and Grainne O’Reilly, at Custom House Studios. Christine engaged with the group creating art within nature. 

This collaboration was over 12 weeks September-November 2023. The artist and participants worked together using a combination of Eco-Art and Forest Bathing methods, engaging in a highly sensory and process orientated practice. Christine introduced the group to the possibility of materials and processes found in nature. 

Beginning with a nature immersion activity designed to open sensory awareness to their surroundings. The artists had  opportunity to express their personal aesthetic by exploring ways they can use the nature around them to perform actions to make patterns, prints, sounds or sculptural forms. 

Participants used themes of colour, touch, pattern & shape.  Creating movement; sound; visual contrast; smell; mood; ambience; orientation; gravity and balance.

This project was supported by MSLETB and Mayo County Council Arts office  Upstart Programme.

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