Above: Artist Michael McSwiney with The Loft Gallery owner Kate Fitzgerald
A dedicated new space for showcasing local artists has opened in Clonakilty The Loft Gallery is a dream realised for printmaker Kate Fitzgerald, who is well-known beyond the county for the quality of work produced at her framing business, established in Clonakilty in 2001.
The gallery is located in the space upstairs from the framing business and with two windows facing each end of the room, one high and one low wall, a high ceiling and a specialised hanging system in place with no drilling required, it is a classic exhibition space, flooded with natural light. At night, the street lighting outside give it a warm and inviting feel. This was demonstrated on a highly successful Opening Night, on September 19, with a solo exhibition of work by Clonakilty based artist Michael McSwiney. Clonakilty Town Mayor, Colette Twomey. Officially opened the exhibition to a packed room.
Michael’s work portrays a world of abandoned, often threatening panoramas of land and sea. The influence of colour and atmospherics from living so close to the Atlantic Ocean are intertwined into his paintings. His layered and textured, sometimes ‘abstract expressionistic’ images are inspired from his memories of growing up in Cork Harbour.
Michael’s exhibition at the Loft Gallery contains 25 paintings of various sizes in oil/mixed media on canvas and four sculptures incorporating wood, glass and stone. The exhibition runs until Satuday, October 11.
Kate’s ambition is to showcase a broad spectrum of work, from installations to paintings, in the new gallery. “Art is for everyone to enjoy,” she says passionately, “I’d love to see school children visiting and not being afraid of the space.” A past student of the Crawford College of Art and Design, Kate was born on Western Road, not far from where the gallery is located. She was delighted to see such a cross-section of the community attend the Opening Night. “The feedback has been great and Michael has already sold some pieces of work. I’m really excited about the future of the gallery and making art accessible to everyone.”
Michael Mc Swiney began his studies at the Crawford College of Art and Design. He graduated with an Honours Degree in Fine Art from the National College of Art and Design in 1991. For several years, he travelled and worked in many countries such as Norway, India and Egypt. In the late nineties, he returned to live in Ireland where he had several solo exhibitions and exhibited his work at An t’Oireachtas and Iontas, where he won the painting prize in 2000.
He has been based in Oslo, Norway since 2000, regularly exhibiting his paintings there and lecturing at the prestigious Einar Granum Art School. Michael and his family returned to Ireland in 2008 and now live in Clonakilty.
To contact Michael McSwiney call 087 2752842. www.michaelmcswiney.ie.
The Loft Gallery and Frames is located at 4, Western Road, Clonakilty. Call 023 8835625.