LSAD exhibition packed full of pleasant surprises

Grainne Keays

Reporter:

Grainne Keays

One of the drawings featured in the exhibition, Drawing A Blank by Hazel Egan
Grainne Keays finds lots to like in the Limerick School of Art and Design’s annual drawing showcase

Grainne Keays finds lots to like in the Limerick School of Art and Design’s annual drawing showcase

Wouldn’t life be very dull if everything we did turned out exactly as we thought it would?

Heading out to visit the Limerick School of Art and Design’s annual drawing awards and exhibition, I thought I knew what was awaiting me. How wrong I was and how pleasantly surprised.

The exhibition is open to the public from 9.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, until March 28. This exhibition is open to everyone and it’s free.

I was given a tour of the exhibition by Des MacMahon who, with Alan Crowley, currently organises the awards/exhibition. The first thing I noticed is the space in which this exhibition is held.

It would be worth going along just to see it.

The gallery of the LSAD was formerly the church of the Good Shepherd convent, and notwithstanding the convent’s controversial history, it still has the atmosphere of a sacred place. The gilded ceilings and trumpeters are still in place although the walls and confessionals are hidden behind false white walls erected for the purpose of showing works of art.

If you are curious about how the building looks and functions today, this is an ideal opportunity find out.

This is the ninth year of the drawing awards. Originally the brainchild of Jim Savage and Charles Harper, the awards are open to all students of the school and acknowledge achievement in the field of drawing within a very broad interpretation of that skill.

Mr. Harper described the objectives of the awards as being to “bring into focus the importance of drawing as a fundamental creative skill that deserves to be developed not only among students of art and design, but also among all who wish to expand their expressive powers. (The awards’) aim is to both celebrate and stimulate the continuing practice of drawing.”

Each year, a different curator is invited to make a selection for exhibition from the entries received. This year, it was the turn of Nevan Lahart, a graduate of LSAD and a young, “aggressive contemporary” artist with increasing international recognition.

The final selection of 34 pieces was chosen simply because he found them interesting. This was a wise move. Not alone are the exhibits interesting but unexpected.

This is no fusty, dusty exhibition nor is it pretentious. It is for everyone to enjoy.

Awards are sponsored by LIT, the selectors, Art Mad of Broad Street and Charles Harper (who continues to support the awards each year by making a purchase award).

This year’s overall winner is Barry LeMasney an artist whose talent, I am told, is matched only by his enthusiasm and work ethic. Barry’s winning entry, A Walk in Lahinch, is intriguing, not only for its drawing content but its physical make up (not an easy piece to exhibit).

The piece was produced in one day, and depicts a myriad of scenes and atmospheres. Any of us familiar with Lahinch will know that the light can change in an instant and with it the atmosphere of the day. Barry also received an award for his work Poor Chip Dying. This is an evocative series of drawings of a very weak dog taking his last breaths. One can feel the sadness of the owner and the resignation of the afflicted animal.

Other winners were Glen McAuley for his series 5 Dead Flies, exquisitely detailed drawings of flies from his grandmother’s window sill. Hazel Egan won a selectors’ award for her work, Drawing a Blank, a witty piece about the nature of cheques and worth.

My favourite artist of the exhibition is Sarah Healy who has two pieces in the exhibition, Mindmap and Paper Trail. I understand Sarah is a first-year student, straight out of secondary school, whose imagination and skill is already making waves in LSAD. I look forward to seeing more.

I can’t recommend this exhibition highly enough – it’s entertaining, thought provoking and surprising. And, the best surprise of all, the dog lived!