By Gerry Moran
It’s that time of year again, folks, Arts Festival time. And I love it. Our Arts Festival is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year (happy anniversary all). Read some memories of mine from those 50 years elsewhere in this paper. In the meantime here’s a light-hearted piece I penned back in 1995.
Arts Week has only just begun and already I have culture coming out my ears. I’ve been to openings, readings, concerts, and plays, and, to compound matters, I’ve been to pubs before and after. Is it any wonder I have a bad dose of Art-ritis? I have also developed a major allergy to art galleries. Art galleries seriously inhibit people. I know the nicest of people who, as soon as they step inside an art gallery, metamorphose into strange creatures who will only communicate in a series of stiff nods and indecipherable whispers. As for those serious stiff upper-lip-types they seize up entirely. They don’t speak, they don’t smile, some don’t even blink and become more moribund than the exhibits!
And then there are openings. If you think art galleries are bad, openings are worse! The most appalling changes occur to people at exhibition openings. A dreadful stiffness descends on everyone. People move about in slow-slow-motion (if they move at all) and conversations are curt, cropped as everyone assumes a robotic-like, posture or pose. Your partner will hardly talk to you, best friends scarcely recognise you, acquaintances ignore you while perfect strangers become even more perfect strangers!
What is it about Arts Week that brings about this diabolical Jekyll & Hyde transformation in decent, God-fearing, people? Personally I blame the wine. In fact I don’t blame the wine. I blame the wine glass. The glass is the culprit. As soon as a wine glass slips into one’s hand the little finger shoots out into space like a spare cocktail sausage assuming a life all of its own. I mean have you ever tried conversing with someone whose little pinky is pointed north, north-west while their body is pointed south, south-east? It’s difficult. Damn difficult. Something needs to be done. And so I offer the following suggestions to all art gallery curators in the hope of eradicating posturing and posing and art-induced inhibitions.
1. Floppy hats should be distributed to all and sundry as they enter the gallery as it is nigh impossible to be a pretentious poser while wearing same (although I wouldn’t bet on it)
2. Tankards of ale only should be imbibed. You simply cannot partake of a beaker full of the sunny South East while your little pinky is trying to go solo (although I wouldn’t bet on that either).
3. As for edibles, forget canapés, I suggest crubeens, as sticky fingers will put a stop to any little-pinky-poking-peccadillos (and that I will bet on)
Exhibitions worth seeing this week
Eoghan O’Drisceoil, good friend, and past pupil of mine, is hosting an exhibition in Bridie’s in John Street. Eoghan is one of the most committed people to his art that I know of. Do drop in. Another good friend of mine Daithí Holohan is having a major retrospective exhibition in Saint Canice’s Community Hall. Daithí’s delicate line drawings are exceptional (have several of them in my home) And then there’s Mary Hickey (sister of Daithí) exhibiting in Kilkenny Castle whose work I also have in my home. Does Art run in families, I wonder? Because some of the earliest paintings I ever purchased were by Kathleen Holohan (sister of Mary and Daithí) and which hang on my wall to this day. Kathleen has parked her paint brush, I understand, but I so wish you’d pick it up again, Kathleen. Our Arts Festival misses you.
Finally, local writer Judy Rhatigan (author of Beyond The Briary Wood, A Life Journey) will launch her book, The Raggedy Bush Poems, in the Book and Coffee Shop in William St. on Thursday, August 17 at 6 pm. All proceeds from the book go to SOS Kilkenny. Readers of Judy’s poems will include Joe Murray, Geoff Rose, Ger Cody, Brendan Corcoran, Ger Mulally, Mary Craddock, yours truly and, of course, Jimmy Rhatigan. All are welcome.