EVA International – Limerick style


Home for the weekend, I decided that I needed a dose of culture. As luck would have it today was the opening day of Ireland’s Biennial of Contemporary Art – otherwise known as EVA International.

I am certainly no expert in art, but I do enjoy wandering around galleries and exhibition spaces, stroking my chin pensively and murmuring ‘Hmmm, I see what the artist is trying to do here’, while furtively reading the notes, abandoning them after seconds because I don’t understand them, and instead just looking at the pieces. I have no idea whether I understand the zeitgeist when it comes to art. I just know whether I like it or not.

I started in the Limerick Gallery of Art – a modern art museum that thoughtfully changes exhibitions every three months or so – ideal really as I get to see brand new displays each time I come home.

As today was the official opening of EVA International, the gallery was buzzing, with many of the displaying artists present to explain their pieces. Very edifying.

On the programme I noticed that the exhibition spaces were dotted about the city. Across the road I toddled to number 6 Pery Square where there was an exhibition in the Georgian basement. I donated a euro to get a ‘Repeal the 8th’ badge at the counter. Not that I think referenda are won or lost on the number of posters a side uses, but on the streets of Limerick, not a single ‘Vote Yes’ poster was on display. This is worrying. It is far more important to focus the Vote Yes campaign outside of Dublin, as this is where it will be won or lost. The pro-birth side seem to have grasped this, but not the pro-choice side. Perhaps they have a plan though.

Onward to the abandoned Limerick Clothing Factory, which has been reopened as an exhibition space for the three months of the festival. I teamed up with two women on the street, as none of us knew where Lord Edward Street was located. One of them asked me if I was an artist. How I chuckled. Then I got to thinking. I am a writer.

‘No, I am a writer’, I announced breezily. I felt mortified as soon as I’d said it. I felt like such a fraud. Which is foolish, because I have had stories published in books,  articles in newspapers and plays performed in festivals. She was interested and says she will look out for the ‘Mother’s little treasure’ posters when I am promoting the play towards the end of the summer.

Across the river then to Cleeve’s Condensed Milk Factory – the largest venue of the festival – a massive, iconic factory that was a fitting locale for the art on display. Most interesting was the section called ‘Artists Campaign to Repeal the 8th’.

The huge warehouses holding the artwork as impressive and eerie as the pieces themselves.

Wonderful exhibition. The tales I will have for my 24 hour old nephew, when I meet him later…

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