‘Tralee Art Group (TAG) officially opened its art exhibition Past, Present and Beyond on Thursday 12th January, marking 40 years of creativity and self-expression. Founded in 1980 by a group of people united in their love of visual arts, their belief in the importance of developing art in the community and their desire to encourage new artists, Tralee Art Group was formed.
Rebekah Wall curated this exhibition and it was officially opened by Siamsa Tíre’s Chairperson, Sean Murphy. Inspiration for the work in this exhibition comes from the natural and man-made environment and the realms of imagination and memory. The diversity within the group is evident in the artwork which is a feast of colour, techniques and subject matter. Works are representational and non-representational involving a variety of media – oils, acrylics, watercolour, pencil, pastel, mixed media, painting on silk etc. Visitors can support the artists directly and can purchase the works which can be collected when the exhibition closes.
Róisín McGarr, Executive Director, Siamsa Tíre says, “Siamsa Tíre is delighted to welcome the Tralee Art Group for this special anniversary exhibition marking 40 years of creativity and diverse artistic practice within our local community. The member’s dedication to supporting each other’s talents and creative journeys suggests that the Tralee Art Group will continue to flourish for another forty years. We encourage everyone to visit the exhibition here in Siamsa Tíre and enjoy the wide variety of work on display.”
When TAG was set up, there were no organisations or outlets for visual arts in Tralee or the surrounding areas, so, the vision of these founding members filled a void and planted the seed of the highly successful art group we have today. The group went from strength to strength and in the early days there were several professional artists involved who worked alongside and helped the enthusiastic amateurs. VEC Art classes were organised at the time, and many members started their artistic journey in Una Walsh’s class.
The first exhibition was organised with the help of Fr. Pat Aherne in 1980 and was held in the old Siamsa Tire building, formerly the Town Hall, and later Fabric Nightclub. Exhibitions were held regularly, initially in Benner’s Hotel, and later the Library and by 1984 the group had over 50 members.
In the early years, some members of the group participated in some remarkably interesting projects; including the illustration of two books about St. Brendan the Navigator and also involved in a video made by the Scottish musician and singer, Midge Ure, for his record, “Call of the Wild”.
Tralee Art Group proved itself to be a vibrant, innovative group. It has fostered links with the community by promoting art in social media and online, displaying art in public places like University Hospital Kerry, County Buildings, pop-up shops and through participation in activities such as Culture Nights, Art in the Park and involvement with community groups making murals and with the clients of Baile Mhuire.
The group has grown and developed throughout the years and has played a big part in the cultural life of Tralee. Several exhibitions were held annually throughout the years, here in Siamsa Tire, Baile Mhuire, and the Library and also in other locations around the county. The group even held a virtual exhibition during the Covid pandemic which was available online including interviews with the artists.
The consistent enthusiasm, positivity and mutual support that exists amongst the members have contributed greatly to the success of the group. The artists have upskilled and developed by sharing ideas and expertise, participating in various courses and workshops, visiting galleries and museums, and engaging in mentoring sessions with professional artists.
The aims and hopes of the founding members have afforded 40 years of artists to embark on a wonderfully creative and enjoyable journey. Long may it continue!
The exhibition is open Mondays, Wednesdays – Saturdays, 10am to 4pm from 12th January to 11th February and artworks can be purchased at the Siamsa Tíre Box Office.