THE breadth and quality of work on display in the Butler Gallery at Kilkenny Castle is breathtaking. Works from people like Tony O’Malley and Michael Farrell, are on their own essential viewing, but when mixed woth work from like Mainie Jellett, Michael Beirne and Eilis O’Connell, it sets off the appreciation buds as yopu walkk through the space in the basement, under the Long Gallery which was built as a gallery for the people of Kilkenny.
The Buler Gallery will soon have a new home at Evan’s Home, off John Street and in “Gems From The Butler Gallery Collection - Echoes of the Past and Whispers of the Future” we are given a taste, a morcel of what we can expect in the new gallery when they will have the room to show off some of its highly impressive collection.
And the choice of work exhibited in this exhibition is a triumph for the Red Square Young Critics and the Butler Gallery Adult Critics groupings who were the curators and foraged deep and hard to find the 20 exhibits.
The reasoning behind the collaboration was to recognise the simultaneous existence of hope at a time when darkness can surround us, both literally and metaphorically, seeking out work that was at once fragile, yet paradoxically, full of strength.
For anyone with a shred of interest in the arts, politics, the world or in themselves should come and see this wonderful exhibition.
And they save the best for last. Cofa by Eilis O’Connell is a huge bronze piece that looks like small boat on its head or a like a coffin. It measures 2.2 metres in height and is 30 centimetres wide and must have been very difficult to put in place, maybe that’s the reason it is located so close to the rear exit. One of the people who curated the exhibition devled futher into the name and found it comes from old english and traced back to a Scandinavian language and means cove or shelter. It was heartening to see staff at the gallery working hard on a monday morning, inlcuding Pauline swaine who was doing a little no-artistic painting herself
The exhibtion runs until February 24.