New exhibition space is an eye-opener

In keeping with its theme as an organic arts festival, organisers of the first-ever Roscommon Fringe Festival provided art lovers with a veritable feast of local talent in a wonderful venue at the ‘Open Eyes’ art exhibition. The former AIB bank at Church Street, with it’s myriad of vacant rooms, was the perfect venue for such an organic event. Spacious and bright, it retains a charm of yesteryear and the elegant rooms were a superb backdrop for the many pieces on show. Another element of this exhibition was the wonderful quality and variety of the work on show. Still life and portraits were to be found in the vicinity of yew wood sculptures, oriental mirrors were near a study of Mote Park, while one of Monica Lannon’s patchworks was entitled ‘having a good gossip’. A huge number of artists took part in the exhibition, including Paraic Stephens, Catia da Nova, David Guyot, Cecilia Guyot, Brendan Dean, Maura Cunningham, Eileen Duignan, Beatrice Finn and Cora Mugan, to name just a few. Immigration into Roscommon in recent years has brought with it new ideas and new takes on familiar and oft-seen objects and places. Artists at the exhibition represented every corner of the world and their work complemented beautifully the local landscapes and everyday scenes of Roscommon life. Other artists included in the exhibition were Sinead Geraghty, Enda Flynn, Siobhan Cox Carlos, Patrick Keegan and Holly Asaa, who along with Mick Fortune and Eileen Healy, had video installations on view. The launch of both the exhibition and the Fringe Festival was performed by Mayor of Roscommon John Kelly. He praised the work of the committee responsible for the exhibition and noted the number of art works involved – 144 in all and the variety of work represented. He spoke of the energy released when artists come together and said that he was really grateful to be part of the reality which ensued.  Mayor Kelly praised the multicultural theme of the Fringe Festival, noting that those involved came from England, Ireland, Poland and Malawi, to mention just some of the countries.  He said that the variety of backgrounds was reflected in the variety of the work on view.  Concluding, he encouraged all present to engage with the festival and take part in events such as the bat walk, African drumming, dance workshops and much more. He noted that the Fringe Festival gives local artists an opportunity to show their work and he thanked the Spellman family for their generosity in providing the wonderful venue.  ‘Events like this have a positive effect on the whole community. If we can’t always communicate in words, let us get to know each other through art, through dance, through food and sharing with each other.’