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A Year’s Turning through the early morning mists …

Our exhibition ‘A Year’s Turning’ was always going to be a challenge. Making art for display outdoors in Ireland is an exercise in hope over realism. We installed the artworks in the rain and they spent the first week in the early morning mists that can descend on the foothills of the Wicklow mountains. Hunting Brook Gardens in particular, with its exotic leaves, looked right at home in the warm mist which, to be honest, just added an element of mystery to some of the artworks:

  • A Touch of the Tropics, Dee Kelly
  • Stay At Home 2019-2020, Caroline Fitzgerald

Then last week, the sun shone and umbrellas were needed to shade us from the heat. It was a fabulous week where we got to chat in comfort with all the visitors. Those who came for the exhibition and were blown away by the gardens, and those who came for the gardens and were delighted to encounter the art.

We had a visit from Richard Murphy, who produces wonderful garden photography. He took images of our work in its garden setting taking full advantage of the beautiful early evening and early morning light. The intensity of the colours in his photographs is amazing and we really appreciate the trove of images he has captured. Here are a small sample but there are lots more on his Facebook and Instagram page (richardmurphyphotography).

  • Frivolous, Marie Dunne
  • Falling Leaves, Fidelma Barton
  • They Awoke One Morning, Colleen Prendiville
  • Wild Meadows, Elaine Peden

The project was a year in the making as we tracked the seasons in the gardens of June and Jimi Blake. We could not have imagined how successful it would be in terms of engagement with the public, pushing the boundaries of our art and expanding the range of materials we employ. The images below capture some of that diversity – ceramics by Hannaleena Ahonen and metal work by Helen McLoughlin.

  • One in a Tree, ceramic and crochet, Hannaleena Ahonen
  • Water Vessel?, sheet steel, Helen McLoughlin

Lots of red stickers have appeared (we have sold 21 artworks from the exhibition so far) and some of the works could have sold many times over. We have two commissions to undertake, so that is exciting.

Thank you to everyone who has supported ‘A Year’s Turning’ and, if you haven’t had a chance to visit yet, the gardens are open this week from

Wednesday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Hunting Brook Garden (Jimi Blake) W91 YK33 Garden Entrance €8

Wednesday – Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. June Blake’s Garden W91 EC90 Garden Entrance €6

Come rain or shine these gardens are always a treat.

element15 facing the elements!

Our exhibition, ‘A Year’s Turning’, has opened and will run for the next three weeks. This is an open air exhibition across two gardens – the well known Hunting Brook Garden of Jimi Blake and June Blake’s contemporary garden just around the corner on the N81 to Blessington.

We are either very brave or very stupid putting on a textile and mixed media exhibition outdoors! The weather has not exactly been in our favour but we have made the pieces to withstand the elements so hopefully all will be well. Many of the artworks have been fitted into or over steel frames which we commissioned from Barry Murphy, Anvil Ironworks, Saggart. The ‘frames’ have been produced to easily sit into any garden and will last forever. The reaction so far has been very positive and we are very grateful to those who have visited and to those who purchased on the first day.

Here are some images to whet your appetite.

Works by Fidelma Barton, Marie Dunne and Hannaleena Ahonen

The exhibition is open at the same time as the gardens:

11am – 4 pm, Wednesday – Saturday in Hunting Brook Garden, Lamb Hill, Blessington W91YK33

11am – 5 pm, Wednesday – Sunday in June Blake’s Garden, Tinode, Blessington W91 EC90

There is a charge into each garden via an honesty box ( €8 and €6 respectively ), so bring some cash. Both gardeners are happy for you to bring a picnic and linger. Lots of plants for sale and well as the artworks…..

We are very grateful to Kildare County Council Arts Service for grant support to mount this exhibition.

A YEAR’S TURNING

It is said that art is born of the observation and investigation of nature. Observing and finding solace in nature is something many people have tuned in to over the past turbulent year. We, as a collective of artists, have been very fortunate to be welcomed into the wonderful gardens of Jimi Blake at Hunting Brook and June Blake’s Garden, both just outside Blessington. We had the opportunity to respond to the gardens over the seasons and to spend time among the creative and imaginative planting schemes of these inspiring gardeners. The culmination of our work is an open-air exhibition across the two gardens which opens on 18th August.

The artworks will be integrated into the landscaping, to add to the vibrancy of the planting but not to detract from it. We see our work as a creative reflection to the natural world found in the gardens, not just in the stunning colours of high summer but also to the more subdued and quiet time of dormancy and decay in winter. Making textile and mixed media artworks that can withstand the rigours of display outdoors has been a challenge, but a challenge we have relished .

The gardens are within a few hundred yards of each other which makes following the art trail through both gardens a pleasurable day out. Anyone who is interested in gardening will know of these world renowned gardens but, even if you don’t know your cranesbill from your pelargonium, we hope you will find the time to visit during the three weeks of the exhibition. The opening times for each garden differ slightly so please see the details above. There is a small entrance charge to each garden via an honesty box. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Subject to Change

If you are in the vicinity of Cork next weekend seek out ‘Subject to Change’, the Fine Art & Contemporary Applied Art Degree exhibition in Crawford College of Art & Design.  Our very own Pauline Kiernan, has just completed her degree in Contemporary Applied Art and is showing her degree work – and some absolutely beautiful work it is too. You can attend in person (yes, actually see a real exhibition at last) from the 12th to the 15th, 11 am to 7 pm each day. The online launch is on the 11th at 6pm and will be streamed live on Facebook /CrawfordCollegeofArtandDesign

Pauline’s work looks at the role textiles play in our lives regardless of who we are or where we were born, from the feel of a soft blanket wrapped around us to the physical touch of textiles on the skin. She explores what we do as individuals to feel protected while at the same time feeling vulnerable. Pauline used techniques such as textile painting, screen printing, machine embroidery, reverse applique and hand stitching to explore this emotional attachment. Layering personal stories of memory, maternity, loss, joy and identity with symbols and rituals into a tapestry or quilt like piece, she aims to evoke a sense of comfort and protect. Well worth taking the time to see either virtually or in person.

Works in progress

There is always some work in progress when you are an artist – sometimes three or four pieces on the go at one time. Do you work on them for a while, put them aside, take them out again, look at them for a while, change something, add something, subtract something, redo it, cut it up and reassemble in a different way? That seems to be the path in textile and mixed media in this group. Eventually, we reach a place of contentment with a piece: “Yes, that will do nicely” – it is now ready to be seen by others!

A snippet of Marie Dunne’s work in progress with free machine embroidery still in the sewing machine