Living Landscape `96, West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen

 

AFTER a 10-year reign as West Cork's most prestigious visual arts event, the Living Landscape series is to come to an end. Part of its success has been shaped by the sensibilities that a practising artist would lend to the selection process - so it is fitting that all the individual selectors over the last decade return, bringing with them one invitee each.

The definition of landscape within the show is undeniably broad, where formal, abstract or symbolic distillations of landscape mingle. The most unequivocal of the latter group are Tom Fitzgerald's sculptural wall pieces, which confront in no uncertain terms the political and geographical, abrasion between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Andrew Folan's Screenprint Reservoir I explores the inextricable relationship between a landscape and its inhabitants.

The iconic imagery found in Mickey Donnelly's earlier works is complimented by a wonderfully simplified landscape rendered in outline over a dry textured paint surface. Gwen O'Dowd's Downpatrick Head highlights an interest in stylisation as the cliff face becomes a rounded near sculptural form of great beauty. Donald Teskey's paintings dark blustery cityscapes are larger than those previously encountered, and as a result a little less luxuriant in surface.

There are a string of artists making evocative gestures in paint, with strong contributions from Coilin Murray, Sean McSweeney, Mary Lohan and Maurice Desmond. Jim McKevitt is the only artist to show purist abstraction, while Gerard Cox is the only sculptor.