Sunday, 28 October 2018

Another wander around Wexford at Festival time.

Join me on another exploration at Wexford Festival Opera time.

(source - Wexford Chamber)

I blogged last week about my fave exhibitions between the Bullring and Selskar, check it out here.

This blog I'm going to trace my walk between the Talbot Hotel and Rowe Street but first I want to cover an amazing exhibition in the County Hall. (That's the big glass box in Carricklawn pass the hospital).

This is by any measurement the most stunning exhibition this year. War Changes Its Address: The Aleppo Paintings' is an exhibition that will run in Wexford County Council buildings from 29th October – 3rd December 2018. The exhibition features work by artist Brian Maguire, bringing together a selection of recent works resulting from a visit to Syria in 2017. This exhibition grew from Maguire’s own experience of the aftermath in Aleppo and developed in response to the refugee crises which has arisen because of this conflict.

The scale of the work is amazing and couldn't have been showcased in a better venue, the grey quarry like appearance of the civic space is the perfect canvas for such an exhibition. The paintings are vast, meters wide and high in some cases and cannot be done justice with photos, you really have to see them for yourself. The destruction of Syria can be felt by the fact one can walk straight into the work. Simply put, an amazing exhibition that everyone should see.

 You can read more about the artist Brian Maguire and more on this exhibition here.

This exhibition gets a 10 out of 10 planets.

Walkabout Map 2 (original source Wexford Fringe)

Starting at the Talbot Hotel (green circle on map), there is a huge amount on offer but most, in my opinion whilst very good, fine art, was a bit traditional and boring. A lot of artists have been exhibiting in the Talbot for years and most of the work has a  "same-ie" kind of feel. The one exception was some striking work by Tony Oakey. It'd hard to decribe his work, but I like what I saw. (From his own website ...)

"My "style" has sometimes been described as surreal but I'm not mad enough to be considered a surrealist.   Slightly mad and a bit "different", maybe"


I think that sums it up, I didn't get a chance to speak with the artist but hope to over the next few days. With framed prints there's something to suit everyone's pocket,  here are some of my faves:


The second place I visited was the Friends Meeting Hall (blue circle on map) in Patrick's Square to check out Wexford Camera Club's exhibition. My dad and I are former members so like to keep an eye on what they have been doing. You can find more information about them on their website and facebook. There is a lovely variety of work covering themes of people, landscapes, flora, fauna and abstract so again something to suit everyones tastes. They have a fantastic raffle where you can win a choice of prints. Check it out!

To choose one photographer to showcase is difficult, depending on your personal taste but for me Vladimir Morozov continues to create amazing work, what he does with a camera clearly transcends just simple taking a photo, he is creating true pieces of art work. You can find him on the WWW or Facebook. BTW, he is also a lovely guy and very generous with his time and knowledge.  His most recent series of landscapes are ridic!

And the dude is even photogenic himself ...

And finally, last but certainly not least is the Denis Collins - Padraig Grant Gallery at the bottom of Rowe Street (opposite Cappachinos, red circle on map).

Again, there is a wide variety of work and different price points so something to suit everyones tastes and pocket. Padraig has on display a great collection of his work over many years, some showing his wide travels around the World and also some of his favourite works from around Wexford. 

 (source - Padraig Grant's Facebook page linked above)

There is an eclectic mix of art on the other side of the gallery, here are some of my choices:

Fascinating felt work by Mairead Ryan (no relation). I especially loved Denis' explanation of how the work is created.

The abstract landscapes by Eoin Cassidy are striking and I wouldn't mind having one on my wall ...

 And a beautiful collection of Carmel Fenlon's work.

And finally, a photo of Denis "Outstanding in his field" (aka window)

And thats me done. The best of both walkabouts is the exhibition in Wexford County Council but I have to say again; we are so lucky to be immersed in art and craft all year around in Wexford, I'd urge you all to get out, find something you like, speak to the artists and if you have a few spare yoyos support a local artist.

Please share my blog and comment as to what you've liked this year.


John The Captain Ryan.






Sunday, 21 October 2018

Wandering around Wexford at Festival time.

The best of what Wexford has to offer (part 1)


 (Photo source Pat Sheridan)

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of what Wexford has to offer, I hope you can indulge me for a minute. I and so many Wexfordians are so lucky to have a plethora of art and craft right on our doorstep, not just at festival time, but all year round. Outside of Dublin and Galway, Wexford has one of the best art scenes in the country and every Wexfordian has become an expert and critic. Are we educated and knowledgeable - sometimes we are, sometimes not. But, we know what we like. To paraphrase - I can't define it but I know when I see it. 

Since the age of about 11, I have always wandered around checking out all the exhibitions, I make it a point to speak to as many artists that I can, offer encouragement and congratulate them on their creations, not all beautiful (in my eyes) but most with a little bit of the persons soul or being. One thing you can certainly see is that sometimes it's not the destination but the journey and over the years I've loved speaking to the same people and checking out their journey, anyway, enough of the soppy stuff. Let's see what I found.

(Walkabout Map 1)

I started at the Creative Hub (green circle) in the old Bullring Mall.

This exciting new space for artists and creatives located in the heart of Wexford town, in the old Cornmarket Shopping Mall, is now the new home to over 25 artists and craft makers as well as young musicians from the local FDYS youth music programme.

Spearheaded by Wexford County Council and supported by Wexford Art Centre, this new hub comprises approx 8,000 sq ft and provides much needed space at a subsidised cost for artists from the county’s thriving creative sector.  The initiative is a direct response by the Council to artists’ needs as identified in the county’s recent arts plan ‘Advancing the Arts‘ launched earlier this year.

I love the idea of a local arts collective, showcasing some amazing work. The Makers House is the place to be for craft work, my faves being Annette Whelan's glass sculptures.

I've seen Annette's work for over 10 years and am constantly amazed with what she creates, a true artist and Wexford local (her studio is down in Kilmore). Check out her facebook. I also liked Bianca Divito's work (she is also in Whites Hotel).

But there's loads to check out there ...

Moving on to work on canvas, my fave was the open studio of Declan Cody and Olivia Dwyer

And there was some beautiful work in the hallways also ...  

The next venue I loved was the Light and Shadow gallery (red circle - opposite the Bike Shop - 24 Selskar Street).

Jonathan Murphy's work is meticulously hand cut paper sculptures, depicting surreal and atmospheric storybook imagery. He has been awarded both National and International residencies. They have put together a great group exhibition so there is something for everyone's tastes ...

Check out the website HERE and Facebook

The surprise of the weekend was a small exhibition on the top floor by Dara Finneran; his work has a combination of digital, machine and hand-drawn elements. I loved his work. 


If I wasn't broke I'd be buying something from Mr. Finneran!  I love the balance and fusion of the different mediums, the choice of colours and patterns are interesting, the overall affect is great and you keep looking trying to figure out how each element has been done. Well worth the climb up the wobbly stairs.

And in the room next door, there was some really good photography by Aled Owen Thomas (web & facebook)

I popped into Pig Yard Gallery (blue circle) and had a quick look at the exhibition there and really enjoyed the realistic painting style of Jackie Edwards. No picture - go check it out yourself.

And then the final destination was the massive collection of art and craft in Whites Hotel (yellow circle). It's hard to pull out a favourite but the work by Martin Mc Cormack - Irish Peat Art - was stunning and very creative, something I've never scene but unique. Speaking to Martin, he is a lovely person and I could have talked to him for ages. AND his work, well it's amazing. When you talk about something being Irish and of Ireland, it doesn't get any better than this. Martin starts with painting his colours on his medium of choice, then adds a layer of peat (mixed with secret stuff). He then uses tools to scrape away the patterns and create an impasto with the colour showing underneath. He even encourages people to feel the surface of the painting which is great. One of my fave pieces was resurrection...

Well thats me done for now, I'll cover from the Denis Collins Gallery to the Talbot Hotel in the next couple of days. I hope you've enjoyed my wanderings (both by foot and by blog) and please comment which exhibitions you liked. Please share my blog to help promote these brilliant artists.

John The Captain Ryan



Friday, 19 October 2018

Terrifier & The Babadook. (movie reviews)

As Halloween is almost upon us, here's two spine-chilling reviews of recently watched movies ...

So … I’m going to start with Terrifier. If you’re a fan of terror caused by silent clowns you will enjoy this. Check out my review of the remake of IT here. The plot – well it’s not rocket science.

A television journalist named Monica interviews a severely disfigured woman, the lone survivor of a massacre. Monica mentions the assailant, known only as “Art the Clown,” disappeared from the morgue but the woman emphatically asserts that she saw him die. Later, Monica mocks the woman’s appearance while talking on the phone in her dressing room. The disfigured woman attacks her and gouges out her eyes, laughing maniacally.

Time jump backwards. It’s Halloween night, loads of people are drunk and dressed up; Art the Clown starts his rampage of horror and chopping; concentrating on two annoying girls but diverting his silent attention towards anyone he gets in his way. And that’s as far as the plot really goes. But that doesn’t matter. You don’t watch horror movies for amazing and creative plots, you watch them to have the pants scared off you and what ensues will do that. Art, the silent mime-clown is played brilliantly by David Howard Thornton, the violence is realistic and creative and most certainly not for the fainthearted; there is one scene where a character is chopped up and it is visceral, unique and a hand-in-front-of-your-eyes for a lot of viewers. Me, look, No Hands!.

Check out this fantastic interview from David here, you can tell he really loved playing the role, of course not being afraid of clowns helps. 

The movie has a 71% rating from Rotten Tomatoes so for a horror movie that’s ranking really well. For me it’s definitely one of the scariest movies that is clown based anyway and certainly surpasses both versions of IT (movies not book obviously).    

I’m going to slash and chop an 8 out of 10 planets for Terrifier. One of the scariest movies I’ve seen in ages.

Next ...

The Babadook is a 2014 Australian supernatural psychological horror film written and directed by Jennifer Kent in her directorial debut. And what a debut. Just wow. I loved the premise of this story.

Amelia Vanek is a troubled and exhausted widow who has brought up her six-year-old son Samuel alone. Sam begins displaying erratic behaviour: he becomes an insomniac and is preoccupied with an imaginary monster, against which he has built weapons to fight. One night, Sam asks his mother to read a pop-up storybook called Mister Babadook. It describes the titular monster, the Babadook, a tall pale-faced humanoid in a top hat with taloned fingers who torments its victims after they become aware of its existence. Amelia is disturbed by the book and its mysterious appearance, while Sam becomes convinced that the Babadook is real. Sam's persistence about the Babadook leads Amelia to often have sleepless nights as she tries to comfort him. She destroys the book but it reappears the following day and new, more disturbing words have also appeared.

What follows is the normal, strange goings-on you’d expect from a movie like this, doors opening, shadows causing you to jump but the more interesting part is how Amelia starts to lose her mind and she eventually starts seeing her dead husband who wants to take their son, implying he is a conjuration of the Babadook. The rest is a tornado of possession, attacks and eventually Amelia standing up to the Babadook. The ending is fantastic (but you have to watch it, no spoilers here).

I have the bluray and the extras are brilliant, the interviews and art work are fascinating, well worth a watch. Most of the time I pay little attention to the extras but in this case they are a must. I loved the soundtrack and the childlike story was haunting. The scratchy voice that Sam uses when he reads the lines of the book are chilling, you will remember them for ages.


When the movie was released in 2014 it didn’t get much traction but following the limelight the Sun Dance Festival shone upon it, it’s now soaring in popularity and, strangely enough, is now seen as a gay icon - after Netflix apparently grouped it with LGBT titles - or so the urban legend says! (The verdict is still out for me on this claim).

Either way, it’s an amazing debut from Jennifer Kent  and I’ll be looking at what else she has done. I’m giving The Babadook a 9 out of 10 planets (the extras garnered and extra planet). Original story, great directing and acting with a brilliant soundtrack and great ending. Nuf’ said.

John the Captain Ryan.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Tickets for Fireworks in Wexford

Firstly, a huge shout-out to a very talented photographer - Mr. Pat Sheridan. He takes amazing photos and you can find his website here 

(photo - Pat Sheridan)

I absolutely love the fireworks and everything else happening during the Wexford Festival Opera.  It's a great time to be a Wexfordian.

Even if you don't attend the opera there is a huge number of things to do. Check out the Wexford Fringe Festival HERE for some stuff going on. Most events are free to attend and the exhibitions are the highlight for me.

I always love the well gathered, curated and displayed exhibition that Denis Collins puts together and sure, you go into the gallery for 5 minutes and come out two hours later (2 Lower Rowe Street). 

Anyway, down to the nitty-gritty. The amazing firework display will be starting around 7.40pm tomorrow evening, 19th October 2018. 

The quay and bridge will be closed to traffic from 17:00-20:30, diversions will be in place and there will be heavy disruption to traffic during these times.

Oh ya, there are NO TICKETS.

See you all there

John The Captain Ryan

IT, Chapter 2. (movie review)

After a 2 year wait we finally get to see what happens to the LOSERS. (source  fortniteinsider )  IT's been a long time coming, ...