By Siobhan Cronin
THE new West Cork Arts Centre – Uillinn – will officially open to the public this weekend, with the unveiling of ‘Fourth Space’, the inaugural exhibition at the €3.4m centre.
The exhibition will be launched on Saturday evening, representing the first official function open to the public, at the new arts space for West Cork.
Fourth Space comprises sculptural and installation work by nine leading artists based in Ireland – David Beattie, Karl Burke, Rhona Byrne, Maud Cotter, Angela Fulcher, Mark Garry, Caoimhe Kilfeather, Dennis McNulty, and Liam O’Callaghan.
Opening the exhibition will be Sam Thorne the artistic director of Tate St Ives, with guest speakers County Mayor Alan Coleman and journalist Olivia O’Leary.
The exhibition, which extends throughout the ground floor and first floor galleries, will be the first time most of the West Cork public will get to see the new building, which has been a controversial structure in the centre of the town. Its unusual corten cladding facade, which is a rusty brown, has drawn a mixture of admiration and criticism.
The height of the building, which towers above the traditional streetscape, has also attracted much comment, but the Arts Centre management are confident that the community’s affection for the building will grow, in tandem with their use of the facilties.
As well as a state-of-the-art dance studio, there are also impressive exhibition spaces, artist-in-residence workshops, and a ground floor café area.
On the stairway linking the ground and first floor galleries, a second exhibition will be launched – Flying Colours. This exhibition showcases an array of artwork created by the children of primary schools in the West Cork region. Over 20 schools took part in this initiative organised by the West Cork Arts Centre and West Cork Education Centre.
And form next Monday, February 2, it will be business as usual with the centre open Monday-Saturday from 10am until 5pm, welcoming visitors wishing to partake in activities.
A schedule of art, dance, and drama for all age groups will commence in the workspace. Art for children will explore visual art in a playful and creatively challenging way. Adult art classes include exploring of material, life drawing, and advanced drawing.
The UCC & Bollinger Family Space is a studio specially designed for dance, with a sprung floor, floor-to-ceiling full-length mirrors, and ballet barres. Here, the Alan Foley Academy of Dance has a diverse programme featuring pre-school ballet sessions, modern, jazz, hip-hop, classical and contemporary ballet.
The Artist in Residency programme is accommodated in three state-of-the-art studios. The first artists to undertake residencies at Uillinn are Emma Jervis, photographer; Tess Leak, artist, and Tara Brandel, dancer.
In Studio 1, West Cork-based photo-journalist Emma Jervis has begun her six month residency by documenting the Centre’s transition from North Street. Through photography and video, Emma is interacting with staff, visitors and participants at the West Cork Arts Centre, capturing the range of programmes in visual art, dance, drama, and music.
In Studio 2, Tess Leak is in preparation for her solo exhibition, developing a body of large-scale ‘emergency drawings.’ Both Emma and Tess will have open days in their studios and the public is encouraged to visit and interact with the artist in the studios.
Tara Brandel is the recipient of the Arts Council of Ireland’s first dance residency at Uillinn. This will be a celebration of a dance career encompassing Tara’s choreography in Ireland, London, Berlin, and San Francisco.
Tara’s residency incorporates a community-based dance programme, a series of performances, and professional development opportunities for other dancers.