Inis Bó Finne - Cathal McGinley

Inis Bó Finne - Cathal McGinley

Donegal artist Cathal McGinley is a significant player in the county’s art scene. As an artist he is the real deal; originality, visual eloquence and stunning mark-making. What sets him apart from many others in particular is his intuitive artistic practice. His methodology combines heritage, folklore, dinnsheanchas and a love of his language and island community. Cathal’s work is attuned to ‘dúchas’ - it is both instinct and heritage and yet at the same time utterly contemporary; simultaneously ancient and modern.

Cathal McGinley is ‘of’ Inis Bó Finne; he was born whilst his family were still living on the island but was raised in Magheroarty overlooking his family’s home place. Cathal obtained his degree in Sligo and later his MAFA in University of Ulster.

Throughout this formal education Cathal maintained a ‘gra’ for his home place and its people, customs and heritage. This assimilation has happened over millennia, handed down and down and down, eventually reaching this artist who digests it and makes it visible through his own interpretation. His sensibility is that of an islander and this unique perspective is demonstrated here in this exhibition.

Meitheal Líníochta

Cathal McGinley has recently exhibited in the Regional Culture Centre, Letterkenny as part of Earagail Arts Festival 2018 and is currently artist-in-residence there. An Gailearaí has worked with Cathal over a number of years now and his work with the gallery has centred on the idea of ‘Meitheal’ or ‘work team ’as it is the Irish term that denotes a community collective working towards a common goal, an act of neighbourly help and cooperation. This social concept is imbedded in our Irish consciousness and Cathal utilises this approach not just as an instinctive methodology for his practice but also as a way to include and engage with both his own community and the audience.

Bothóg

Bothóg

A ‘bothóg’ is a small temporary sod shelter used to accommodate those caring for cattle and sheep during the summer season. Sadly, during the evictions and post famine, these flimsy shelters became the only accommodation option available to the dispossessed. They were also known as ‘buailteachas’ from the word ‘buale’ and all of these words, including the island’s name, are associated with ‘cow-lore’. The ‘bothóg’ can also been seen as a solitary or lonely place, a place of meditation or retreat and this appeals to the artist. Cathal has positioned the bothóg as a place of refuge. In constructing this work Cathal has repeatedly folded tonnes of waste paper by modular origami - a meditative, solitary, aeonian act. His dexterity and his chosen method of construction is recognition too of the artist’s skilled craftsmanship, a talent and an aptitude he has engaged with since childhood. In repossessing his heritage and configuring a contemporary interpretation we, the audience, have in a way been brought to a ‘buailteachas’ - a transhumant place, a place where the artist resides protected in order to hear himself more clearly. The growing phenomena of ‘Men’s Sheds’ is another contemporary social and community response to the need to commune, whether collectively or solitary.

Athghabháil

Athghabháil

Athghabháil denotes repossession, re-appropriation, repurposing, reconstruction. The ‘found objects’ from the shores of Inis Bó Finne metaphorically demonstrate a repossession of heritage. They are also a comment on society’s destruction of our seas with plastic rubbish, known in Irish as ‘adill’ - ‘stuff that floats in’. In repossessing them, the artist also celebrates the native skills familiar to the island community such as fishing and the like that have been honed to a modern sensibility. They are of course also a comment on the human condition; we develop cracks, we get broken, we become useless - yet, we can heal and become whole again, differently.

Cathal McGinley’s work is articulate, coherent and fluid. As an artist he has ‘An tSúil Shoiléir’, clear sight; the artist sees clearly what is being forgotten. He has ‘feiscint’, he sees beyond what we ordinary folk don’t register. This artist is a contemporary visual ‘file’.

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