Much Loved exhibition to feature at Limerick’s Elemental festival

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

Pius McGrath, Jennifer Allen and Alan Hogan with Bernadette Kenny of The Blue Box
A whimsical photographic collection of teddy bear portraits will form a centre-piece of the upcoming Elemental festival.

A whimsical photographic collection of teddy bear portraits will form a centre-piece of the upcoming Elemental festival.

Much Loved, an exhibition by award winning photographer Mark Nixon, will go on display at 69 O’Connell Street as part of the September arts and culture festival, returning for a third stint this year.

The exhibition, which features Nixon’s heartwarming photographs of much loved stuffed animals, will be held in conjunction with Blue Box Creative Learning Centre, a facility which provides music and art therapy for children across Limerick.

“Viewers have been intrigued by these funny, bittersweet images and their ironic juxtaposition of childhood innocence and aged, loving wear and tear,” said Jennifer Allen, one of the founders of the Elemental festival, returning in a beefed up format this year for City of Culture from September 11-14.

“When you see these teddy bears and bunnies with missing noses and undone stuffing, you can’t help but think back to childhood and its earliest companions who asked for nothing and gave a lot back.

“As soon as we saw the Much Loved book, we were totally drawn in and decided we had to ask Mark if he would be interested in featuring some of the portraits as part of Elemental’s programme.

“We could also see a very strong link between the theme behind Mark’s exhibition and the work the Blue Box do with young children. The Blue Box is all about providing a safe place for children to deal with difficult situations, using creativity as the medium,” she added.

Bernadette Kenny, CEO of the Blue Box, explained that the service “work with children that have experienced some form of trauma.

“Part of the therapy, through creative arts, is to work on attachment. There is nothing like a teddy bear to be a transitional friend,” she explained.

“He or she can be with you through ups and downs and for the rest of your life. I know this personally as my ‘Ted’ has been with me over many decades,” she added.

Nixon is a two-time winner of the Overseas Photographer of the Year at the British Photographic Awards and winner of Irish Photographer of the Year at the Irish Professional Photographers Association and explained that the “toys show battle scars of being the prized possessions of children and cherished companions that have seen many a repair as different parts start wearing down”.

Much Loved will launch on September 11 in 69 O’Connell Street at 7pm.

Full details of the programme for the Elemental festival will be revealed in due course. For more information see www.elementalfestival.com.