Travel journalist Magan to open Beara-based artists' exhibition

March 9th, 2017 5:10 PM

By Southern Star Team

Manchán Magan.

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TRAVEL journalist and presenter Manchán Magan will be guest speaker at the opening of a painting and sculpture exhibition in Skibbereen this month.

Landmarks and Lifeforms is an exhibition of new painting, sculpture, print and film by West Cork-based artists Danny Osborne and Frieda Meaney. It will be opened to the public at the Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre on Friday March 10 at 7pm.

Both artists have lived on the Beara peninsula on and off for the past 35 years and both have also migrated to various other countries during that time.

Both back living and working in Beara, they continue to travel, collecting material, and collaborating with other artists and practitioners. Both artists engage with the landscape in an elemental way, through trekking, sea swimming, boating, archaeological exploration and often working outdoors. 

This interest and engagement takes them into the areas of geology, biology, marine science, zoology and biodiversity and is presented in this exhibition through painting, print, video installation and sculpture, combining scientific with artistic interpretations of the natural world.

The visual and artistic expression of biology as employed in the work of Frieda Meaney is inspired by the ecosystem as a natural system consisting of plants, animals and micro organisms.

Her video installation for this exhibition mixes footage of endangered species of fish taken in an aquarium on the island of Tenerife, with the soundtrack of a chorus of birds in a South American jungle. The printed skeletal images of dinosaurs, reptiles and birds, revolving across and layered on the video projection, suggest an evolving world which is constantly changing and adapting to environmental circumstances.

The main idea for Osborne’s work in this exhibition was originally born in the Arctic, from paintings and drawings of the many long journeys he made over the sea ice around Baffin and Ellesmere Islands. He has always been struck by the similarities between Beara‘s post glacial landscape, and the treeless Arctic landscape, and it was this that first drove him to go and paint in the far north some years ago. 

He also collects bones and other archaeological artefacts and is fascinated by their story and their migratory journey. Recently, he spent six days drawing the coast while on a local crab boat working between the Bull Rock and the Mizen Peninsula. Osborne is now engraving coastal landscapes onto some of the large bones of a beached fin whale he found close to his home some twenty-five years ago. The engraved drawings represent the reference points that this whale would have registered while navigating along the Irish coast before being stranded.

Also included in the exhibition are a number of sculptures made from lava. Osborne has developed a unique method of casting red hot lava from the vent of an erupting volcano and has travelled to several different countries to make this work. Lava also features in a large collaborative print work where Osborne’s images of cooled lava forms are placed side by side with Meaney’s bird, gorilla and human heads.

Their interest in travel makes Manchán Magan a perfect choice for the opening night as he has also travelled extensively and written about his varied experiences, often well off the ‘beaten track’.

A panel discussion with both artists, zoologist Dr John Quinn, and poet and navigator Theo Dorgan will take place on Saturday April 1st at noon.

Initiated and developed by Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre, Landmarks and Lifeforms will travel to Limerick City Gallery of Art from September 7th to October 22nd and Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda in February 2018. 


Landmarks and Lifeforms will be at the Uillinn until April 20th.

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