Above: Directors Pauline Walsh, Sam Lucey and Thaddeus Ó Buachall outside the new facade of Clonakilty Arts Centre. A new artwork will be added this month to complete the transformation.
Visitors to Clonakilty’s Asna Square have begun to notice a change to one of its buildings; The Clonakilty Community Art Centre, which has been based in the square for six years now, has a far more vibrant facade. The sedate blue is replaced by a striking orange and grey and there is artwork set to be placed between the windows. There are changes going on inside the building as well, with plans for musical events, a film club, drama, a recording studio and Irish language resources.
For some years now, the Arts Centre has been a hub for artists in Clonakilty and the surrounding areas. A new art exhibition every month gives an outlet for artists to show their creativity to the public and a wide range of art classes and workshops provides training to people of all ages to find and express their own artistic voice. It has also supported many other community based organisations such as Cope Foundation and Friends of Asylum. The Art Centre however now looks to expand its scope and grow to include a broader vision for the arts in Clonakilty.
Three new directors have been installed in the past few months; landscape artist Pauline Walsh, Harp player and community activist Sam Lucey and writer and composer Thaddeus Ó Buachalla have begun to reshape the Art Centre alongside long-standing staff and colleagues John Headlam, Lorraine King Marshall and Manny Lange. All staff at the Art Centre are volunteers who devote their time to create this vital arts hub in Clonakilty.
While artists like James Waller have worked from the Art Centre for many years, there are now also new artists in residence. Visual artist Laura Wade whose work includes striking and enigmatic landscape silhouettes has set up her studio in the Art Centre. Thaddeus Ó Buachalla is also in the process of establishing a recording studio on the premises from which to work. A number of shared studio positions will also be established in the coming weeks.
There are plans as well to bring drama to the Arts Centre. Tadhg an Asna players are now based, quite fittingly, in Asna Square itself with a rehearsal and theatre space for the group and plans for a series of plays in the coming months. This drama group have been delighting audiences in West Cork for many years and the establishment of a dedicated base for the company in Asna Square itself could greatly strengthen the theatre scene in Clonakilty.
While the majority of classes and workshops are focused on the arts, there are those also which deal with heritage and culture. Conversational Irish language classes will begin in the autumn and will run for eight weeks. These classes will be free of charge but as numbers will be limited, it is advised to sign up as soon as possible.
The Arts Centre is also set to host far more gigs and concerts in the coming months. Even in such a musical country such as Ireland, Clonakilty has a vibrant and unique music scene which is unmatched. The Art Centre is set to reflect this with a number of gigs planned in a relaxed café style setting which is open to both local and travelling musicians.
A cinema and film club is also to be established in the Art Centre. This will begin with a series of classic movies. It is also planned however to have an improvised music ensemble to accompany silent movies. While entry to these films is free of charge, it is restricted to Art Centre members.
Membership of the Clonakilty Community Art Centre is currently €25 for a year. Members may have their own artworks exhibited in the month long members exhibition and have free or reduced rate entry to selected events.
Next months exhibition is of the work of Zbiggy Kadysewski which begins on Friday, August 3. The opening will be at 6.30pm.
Those wishing to get more involved with the Clonakilty Community Art Centre can contact them through their website, Facebook page, by calling to our stall at the Clonakilty Friday market or simply by dropping in to enjoy the current exhibition and speak to a member of staff there. It is a thriving art scene at the heart of a vibrant town and a great example of the creativity which makes West Cork such a special place.