Fantasies in borrowed spaces as Galway Arts Festival opens tonight

Former ‘Connacht Tribune’ printworks is festival’s main gallery venue

Acrobatics as a flight of fantasy and mythology as a map of the human psyche are themes of this year's Galway International Arts Festival which opens in the west tonight.

Circus, opera, music, comedy, theatre and thoughtful talks have been programmed by artistic director Paul Fahy, who has secured the former printworks at the Connacht Tribune as the main gallery venue.

Five exhibitions of work by artists John Kindness, Leonie King and pop art pioneer Eduaord Paolozzi opened last evening in the Market Street location, which was dripping with printers' ink only a few weeks before.

"Every year we transform spaces," Fahy told The Irish Times as a painting, rigging, woodworking team led by Adam Fitzsimons and Pete Nelson focused on finishing touches late last week.


Galway has no large municipal gallery, but the “pop-up” approach has become something of an art form in a city not shy about experimentation and improvisation.

Kindness, a painter, sculptor and multimedia artist, said he was delighted with the venue, recalling how there was a “little Jackson Pollock” of printers’ ink on the floor when he visited it some months ago with Fahy.

His exhibition, entitled Odysseus, comprises a three-years-and-more body of work inspired by "mythology as it pertains to our psychological life".

Leonie King, daughter of second World War submarine commander Bill King, says that her father's death several years ago at the age of 102 influenced her decision to create a visual family tree.


It spans several centuries, starting out with her great-great grandfather Prof

William King

who put Queen’s

College Galway

on the global scientific map when he identified Neanderthals as a distinct species.

Research into vintage anaesthetic equipment led to artist Karen Conway’s show at University Hospital Galway, while Paul McAree, who has worked at the Tate Modern in London, is curating an exhibition by members of 126, Galway’s artist-led gallery. A docks shed recently used as a venue by Music for Galway has been acquired by Fahy for a display by sculptor Patrick O’Reilly.

Ballyturk, playwright Enda Walsh's latest collaboration with actors Cillian Murphy, Mikel Murfi and Stephen Rea, has been sold out for weeks, but watch out for cancellations while Moonfish Theatre's adaptation of Joseph O'Connor's novel Star of the Sea is filling fast.

Chicago-based Northlight Theatre returns once more with actor John Mahoney, starring in Chapatti, and director Walter Asmus is staging a Royal Court Theatre/Mighty Mouth production of a Beckett trilogy with actress Lisa Dwan.

Druid Theatre is presenting Brian Martin's Be Infants in Evil , which was staged as a rehearsed reading at last year's festival, and Emily Gillmor Murphy and Meadhbh McHugh are among writers selected for this year's Druid debut readings.

Blue Teapot Theatre Company's ID is a collaboration with Scott Williams and Gavin Kostick on the theme of intellectual disability, and the Galway Youth Theatre and Galway Community Theatre are staging Midsummer at Nun's Island.

Singer Imelda May is returning for another sell-out night at the Big Top this Friday, as are the Coronas, while there are still tickets for The Waterboys, The National and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra . They lead a full music programme which includes a lunchtime traditional music series with the likes of Four Winds, Greenshine, harpist Laoise Kelliy and whistle-player Cormac Breathnach. BBC television series surgeon Gabriel Weston will be interviewed by oncologist Dr Maccon Keane, and North American healthcare chief executive Dr Michael J Dowling will be interviewed by RTÉ broadcaster Áine Lawor as part of the "First Thought" talks segment next Saturday.Mirth-loving master of ceremonies Gerry Mallon will host his "Laugher Loft" over the fortnight, and outdoor spectacles next weekend include a giant red ball, dancing lobsters, acrobatics and a "monumental moving dragon".

The Galway Fringe Festival is also running a full programme of events, involving some 500 participants, directed by Claire Keegan.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times