Culture News

Exhibition of Work By Award Winning Irish Artists Opens in Magical French Chateau

‘Correspondances’ an exhibition of work curated by Ciara Hambly, director of leading cross border gallery and cultural hub, Hambly and Hambly, has opened in an international new partnership between the Fermanagh based gallery and the historic Chateâu de Dampierre in France and continues until June 19th.

The exhibition opening provided a feature point for Hambly and Hambly to showcase the work of renowned Irish artist, Eamon Colman, an elected member of Aosdána, along with work by world class Irish artists, Katarzyna Gajewska (Dublin/Poland) and Gary Robinson (Longford).

Visual artists, Gajewska and Robinson, along with Fermanagh born, Belfast based songwriter and musician, Clara Tracey, were recipients of the inaugural John Richardson memorial French Residency award, established by Hambly and Hambly in memory of gallery director, Ciara Hambly’s late father John, who wholeheartedly supported her creative endeavours to promote the arts. 

The bursary award offered the winning artists a two week residency under the mentorship of Eamon Colman in the idyllic French village of Dampierre sur Boutonne. The inaugural artistic residency culminated in ‘Correspondances’, the public exhibition and showcase of the artists’ work in the chateau gallery and original gardens of Château de Dampierre.

Irish musicians Rory Pierce (renowned composer and multiinstrumentalist) originally from Fermanagh, now based between Dublin and Catalonia,) and Brid Cannon (violin) from Dublin/West Cork performed at the opening of ‘Correspondances’ which takes its title from the poem by Charles Baudelaire, the French poet who broke the Romantic tradition and rules by adopting new patterns of modern poetry. The poem is widely considered to be a tribute to nature and our multi-sensory reaction to it, drawing on how everything in life is interconnected and interdependent, how one sense enhances the others. 

‘Correspondances’ also alludes to the correspondences between the three artists’ paintings and how they speak to each other; their relationship also with the music of Rory Pierce’s Iona Sound trio, who performed an intimate concert of classical and folk music on the evening of the exhibition opening. Most importantly, the exhibition title is a courtesy nod to the emerging ‘Correspondances’ and entente cordiale artistique between Hambly & Hambly and Le Château de Dampierre, between Ireland and France and their new beginnings.

Hambly and Hambly director, Ciara Hambly, said the ultimate objective of the residency and exhibition was to give artists from north and south of the Irish border an opportunity to develop their practice and showcase their work on an international platform.

Ciara said, “the John Richardson French Residency award is a huge opportunity for Irish art. We aim to support world class Irish artists, joining them together from north and south of the border and propel them to an international stage. This is something I’m very passionate about because I feel that Irish art is not yet sufficiently celebrated internationally.”

Around 400 artists of all disciplines applied for the 2022 bursary awards which were selected by a panel of 10 judges. Even more applicants are expected to apply for the 2023 residency in the disciplines of visual art, music and literature following the success of this year’s programme.

Bursary judge and artist mentor, Eamon Colman, a former president of the European Council of Artists, said the award was a unique opportunity for artists, saying, “Ireland as a nation has great residency programmes but very few international opportunities. This is a great opportunity for emerging Irish artists to develop their work and for Ireland to build its artistic relationship with France. I have huge admiration for everything Hambly & Hambly have done since they established the gallery six years ago. It has taken an enormous amount of work to get this residency off the ground and it should be applauded. The opportunities it has opened up have been exciting for me both as a mentor and artist, and it has exposed the bursary winners to new international audiences.”

Bursary winning visual artist, Gary Robinson, said that “the complete residency experience was unforgettable” for him. “Having time to focus, consider my process and just simply make new art in this tiny French village was amazing. I would highly recommend artists of all disciplines to apply for the 2023 residency and I would like to thank Ciara for all her hard work creating this brilliant, unique opportunity for artists to consider.”

Musician and songwriter, Clara Tracey, who has been invited back to France to perform in neighbouring Château Mornay later this month as a result of her enthralling outdoor performance over the exhibition opening weekend, said the experience had been “dreamlike” allowing her to infuse her imagination with the rhythms and scenery of a sleepy French village.

Ciara said, “the whole experience was utterly magical. I had never been able to set up a full studio outside before this residency. I found myself composing with the birds in the garden and sampling the bells in the 11th century church up the street. I know I’ll always have a special connection to this village, the surrounding area, and chateaux, and am eternally grateful to Ciara and the John Richardson residency for leading me here.”

Visual artist, Katarzyna Gajewska who was unable to participate in the residency due to illness said she was thrilled to have been awarded the bursary and have her work on show as part of an exhibition with high calibre artists like Colman and Robinson.

The exhibition continues in Château de Dampierre until June 19th.

Applications for the Hambly and Hambly, 2023 John Richardson Memorial French Residency open on June 1st. For an application info package email [email protected]

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