Last month saw the launch of Sliabh Beagh Arts Little Mountain exhibition in the Higher Bridges Gallery Enniskillen. I’ve been involved with this group of artists for about five years and I’m pleased to say we’ve carried through on all of the most over the top ideas we’ve come up with.
Some of these include working for six months to stage a shadow puppet show in the middle of a woods for one night only, animating and performing in the same woods two years later (another six months) with our newly written follow up story…for one night only, wood carving, weird and wonderful photography, music workshops, pottery, gate weaving (yes, you read that right) and my own power-hose murals.
For a while now, Donna, the arts co-ordinator has been working on putting together this exhibition to celebrate the work of the group since it’s very beginning. All the artists, past and present contributed pieces of their work or in some cases, photos of what we’ve done. The reason for this is that the nature of most of these artworks is that they’re actually out there in the countryside. They were made, not with an indoor art gallery in mind but with an attitude of the land itself being the gallery. This whole idea sits very nicely with me and I love the thought of people randomly stumbling across woven gates or power-hosed barn murals or tree sculptures while out on their travels and wondering how on earth that got there. And why!
That being said, I was gobsmacked when I walked in on the opening night of the exhibition and saw the sheer breadth of what we have achieved over the years. It was the variety of what was on display that really got me. Obviously I’ve known about each artist’s work as they’ve been creating them but it wasn’t until I saw them all together in one space that I could clearly see each artists individuality, style and character. Donna did an amazing job pulling it all together, it can’t have been easy to represent all the different aspects of the group but she did it!
I had originally thought that taking the pieces out of their environment like that wouldn’t do them justice but I was wrong, putting them all in one place, side by side made me realise we’re really DOING something here.
My power-hose murals were represented by photos of a selection of the images I’ve “cleaned” into walls for the last five years including bears, crows, heroes and devils while videos of the murals coming to life played on a loop. What they didn’t show were some of the handlings I get myself into when trying to create these murals but we’ll save those for the outtakes reel.
The exhibition has ended it’s run in the gallery now and will shortly be moving on to a new location so the time for reminiscing is over and we’ve more planning to do, more ideas to come up with and more art to make.
Normally the only group activities I enjoy is making music and prefer to work by myself as far as my art goes but the Sliabh Beagh artists are different. I feel comfortable and at home with them and always get excited/nervous when planning our next adventure, knowing, once again, I’ll be pushed WAY out of my comfort zone but I won’t be out there on my own. We’re like the A-Team (80’s reference, kids), there’s always one of us with the skills, know-how or just plain recklessness to solve whatever problems we hit. In the words of David Bowie (yes, HIM again), “I’d rather play here with all the madmen ‘cause I’m quite content they’re all as sane as me.”