Stroll the corridors of St Mary’s and enjoy

Féile art no longer rare as Hen’s Teeth

Political icons by Phu at St Mary's Political icons by Phu at St Mary's
By Francesca Ryan

There is usually so much on offer at Féile that it’s extremely difficult to tick off everything in the programme. This year, as the festival celebrates its 25th birthday, it’s no different so in a bid to see more, I chose a different approach. I worked my way through the hefty programme highlighting what is a must on my schedule for the following 10 days.

First up was the art exhibitions. I’m not into “art appreciation” per se but I have a handle on the history of art, particularly Italian Renaissance, and, I think, I’ve an eye for what makes good art. At this point I should declare that modern art is lost on me. If I walked into an art exhibition and was invited to view an unmade bed that was being lauded as a top attraction, I’d turn on my heel and make for the nearest exit. But regular, traditional art I can appreciate – in a non “art appreciation” way…

And so last Thursday I found myself at St Mary’s University College to see what artistic strokes of genius were being displayed.

First to catch my eye was Jim Reilly’s Rossa Abú exhibit. A series of watercolour images of the West Belfast club’s senior hurlers, all 20 images are attractively framed and mounted along a wall in the college. The beautiful paintings show the club’s hurlers in action against other local clubs including St Gall’s and Lámh Dhearg.  I’m sure the popular club would have a long queue of potential buyers for the art but Jim is gifting the collection to the Rossa club.  This exhibit alone is well worth the trip to St Mary’s so get it in your diary.

As you move through the corridors of the college, art adorns the walls on two floors, a mix, I believe, of Féile exhibits and students’ artwork.

The throbbing colour emanating from the World Political Icons collection will cause you to stop dead in your tracks. The art is the work of Phu, a self-taught artist from Ho Chi Minh City and features images of political icons. Malcolm X, James Connolly, Gandhi and Sitting Bull are just some of those featured in the spectacularly colourful images mounted the length of the corridor.

Like any art museum worth its salt, the Féile exhibition is also sectioned into rooms. I was drawn into one room by the title of the works, Hen’s Teeth. Artist Trevor J Brown is best known for his depictions of Irish farming life and surrealist portraiture and the surrealism is evident at St Mary’s.

The colour and detail of the fabulous works was arresting and I admit I did do an art appreciation pose in front of one of the pieces, The Odd One, which grabbed my attention for more than a few moments.

These are just some of the works on show throughout Féile and I recommend the exhibits to anyone no matter what their level of interest in art.

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