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A feast for the eyes at Féile St Mary’s exhibition

Visual arts co-ordinator Deirdre Mackel and Féile Operations and Events Co-ordinator Áine McCabe view some of the many pieces on display at St Mary’s Visual arts co-ordinator Deirdre Mackel and Féile Operations and Events Co-ordinator Áine McCabe view some of the many pieces on display at St Mary’s
By Ciara Quinn

AN integral part of the annual Féile an Phobail, the visual arts programme continues to attract record numbers through its doors at its base in St Mary’s University College.
This year’s programme is packed full of exhibiting artists and groups represented throughout Ireland and worldwide through a range of mediums and topics including paintwork, sculpture and installations.
Artists on display range from Aidan Monaghan, Andrew Whitson, Micheál Gallagher, acclaimed music photographer Conor Kerr and David Bell.
Féile Operations and Events Co-ordinator Áine McCabe described the week-long event as “one that people don’t want to miss”.
“I recently joined Féile, just after Christmas, and it’s been a baptism of fire,” she laughed. “Having been involved with Féile for many years, whether as a participant or volunteer, it’s a completely different ball game seeing behind the scenes and what goes in year on year to put the festival on in all its guises.
“We have Deirdre Mackel and Micheál Gallagher working for months to bring together the exhibition, to bring together the different genres of art and it’s great to see so many repeat artists coming back. It’s really invaluable having Deirdre and Micheál onboard and it was incredible to see so much of an eclectic mix of people at the launch. Art and creativity is very much part of the foundation of Féile.”
Aisling Award winner Deirdre Mackel has spent six years at the helm of the visual arts exhibition having previously become involved as an exhibitor. “I have seen the exhibition grow over the years, it’s brilliant to be a part of, to see the amount of people coming in and just taking their time to see the art works,” she said. “It just really warms my heart to see all the art up in St Mary’s.”
Deirdre spoke of the amount of preparation that goes into the artistic showcase each year. “There is a lot of background work, the call that goes out for artists to display in the first instance. When you see people coming in and installing their art works it’s just magical. You really get a sense of what it means on launch night which we had last Wednesday, seeing what it means to people, to the artist it lifts my spirits. Debuting artists would say ‘I’m so nervous’ and they come back year after year, the exhibition really encourages new artist development and another thing that comes out of it is a real sense of volunteering.”
Deirdre continued: “Local artist Micheál Gallagher has also come on board and the team have been very much hands on deck. We have some really stand-out pieces from the West Belfast Arts Society, Richard Kelly and a focal point is always the Relatives for Justice Remembrance Quilt. We have a series of Civil Rights posters which were exhibited in the Tate Modern and now they have been brought to Féile.
“We are seeing a lot of the artists coming here with their families and staying for the duration of the festival. The visual arts exhibit gains more and more momentum year on year.”

The Féile Visual Arts Exhibition will be on display until Thursday, August 8. All are welcome to attend.

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