Paul Cotter

Spré Solais: Kindlings

Paul Cotter
Spré Solais: Kindlings

Spré Solais: Kindlings

Taispeántas: Teresa Kennedy agus Melita Denaro

Le: Ian Gordon, Sarah Lewtas, Caitlín Ní Ghallachóir, Maura McGlynn, Sally Davidson, Katrina Quille, Bernie McBride, Seán Ó Gaoithin, Ebie Francis, Kevin McGee, Maire O Donoghue agus Tess White.

An Spré Solais: tá an taispeántas seo, atá a chur ar fáil ag An Gailearaí i nGaoth Dobhair, tiolachtha i gcuimhne an ealaíontóra Teresa Kennedy, a fuair bás ar na mallaibh, mar aitheantas ar a cuid tacaíochta agus a gríosadh gan scíth d’ealaíontóirí an cheantair. Bhí Teresa Kennedy agus Melita Denaro araon ina gceannródaithe i ngníomhaíocht na dearcealaíne, ó Ghaoth Dobhair go hInis Eoghain i rith na 1970idí, 1980idí agus suas go dtí na blianta deireanacha de na 1990idí.

D’fhreastail Teresa ar Scoil Ruskin in Oxford agus ar an Acadamh Ealaíne i mBath go dtí 1951, áit ar roghnaigh sí sainstaidéar a dhéanamh ar phéintéireacht ola agus bronnadh Dioplóma i Múinteoireacht Ealaíne uirthi nuair a chríochnaigh sí a cuid staidéir. Go gairid i ndiaidh di Gilbert a phósadh, bhog siad go Kenya sa bhliain 1955 agus lean sí ar aghaidh ag teagasc ealaíne thall ansin. Sa bhliain 1970, tháinig an teaghlach ar ais go Dún na nGall chuig a dteach cónaithe i gCaiseal na gCorr, Gort a’Choirce. Roimh i bhfad, bhí sí ag teagasc ranganna oíche sa Cheardscoil áitiúil i nGort a’Choirce, i rith na 1970idí agus blianta tosaigh na 1980idí, agus ba í a bhunaigh an Taispeántas Samhraidh bliantúil i nGort a’ Choirce. Le linn an ama seo ar fad, bhí Teresa ag péinteáil a cuid pictiúr féin. Fuair sí coimisiún ó Shiúracha na Toirbhirte i mBaile Átha Luain faoi choinne an pictiúr ‘An Mhaighdean agus An Leanbh’ a phéinteáil agus bhí sí páirteach i mórán taispeántas grúpa, ina measc seónna i nGailearaí Gordon, Doire, agus i nGailearaí na Gléibe, Mín an Lábháin. Sa bhliain 2004, rinne An Gailearaí óstáil ar thaispeántas a chaith súil siar ar shaothar caoga bliain de chuid Teresa. D’éirigh go hiontach maith leis an taispeántas agus bhí Teresa thar a bheith sásta leis mar a bhí an lucht mór féachana a tháinig as gach cearn den réigiún.

Duine ar bith a bhfuil aithne acu ar shaothar Teresa, beidh cuimhne acu ar a pictiúirí galánta ealaíonta in ola ach b’fhéidir nach mbeadh siad chomh heolach sin ar a cuid líníochtaí oilte d’ábhar beo. Caithfear cuimhniú fosta ar a cuid péintéireacht éifeachtach in uiscedhath, a neasacht agus a ndearfacht curtha i gcrích go gairmiúil. Ba ghnách le mórán againn í a fheiceáil ag siúl thart sa chomharsanacht agus í ag déanamh doiciméadú ar na rudaí a chonaic sí – radharcfhianaise ar a háit agus ar a daoine. Bhí an teagasc, an tacaíocht, an spreagadh agus an roinnt go smior in Teresa, agus coinneoidh na healaíontóirí sin a raibh sé d’ádh orthu aithne a fháil ar Teresa, coinneoidh siad cuimhne i gcónaí uirthi mar réalta eolais a bhí dearfa agus flaithiúil i dtólamh.

Go luath sna 1990idí, thug Teresa cuireadh do Melita Denaro ceardlanna péintéireachta a reáchtáil le linn deiridh seachtaine ar an Fhál Carrach, i nDún Fionnachaidh agus i Ráth Mealtain. Agus sin mar a thosaigh líne eile de phátrúnacht ealaíne sa réigiún. Sa bhliain 1992, chuidigh sí le bunú an ‘Atlantic 92 Art Group’, a raibh a dtaispeántas comórtha 20 bliain acu i nGailearaí na Gléibe i mí Aibreáin seo caite.

Rugadh Melita i mBeart in Inis Eoghain ach i ndiaidh bás a hathar, bhog an teaghlach go Sasain. Bhain sí céim amach i gCeirmeacht ó Central St. Martins agus ansin rinne sí staidéar ar feadh trí bliana eile go dtí go bhfuair sí Dioplóma Iarchéime i bPéintéireacht, ón Acadamh Ríoga i Londain. Thug an oiliúint sin go léir sármhuinín theicniúil do Melita.

Choinnigh teaghlaigh Melita seilbh i gcónaí ar a dteach i nDumhaigh agus tagann sí ar ais ansin gach uile mhí chun a cuid oibre a dhéanamh. San áit sin, i measc na gcnoc agus na ndumhacha, cuireann Melita síos ar gach uile mhiondifríocht atá ag tarlú ina timpeallacht: an t-aer, an talamh, an spéir, an ghrian, an t-uisce, an ghaoth, an beostoc – an bomaite. Léiríonn sí na hiarrachtaí gan sos a dhéanann an ghrian ar mhaithe le dealramh orainne agus ar an talamh, iarrachtai laethúla, i gcónaí ag athrú. Ní amháin go bhfuil teidil a cuid saothar fileata agus géarchúiseach, tarraingníonn siad le chéile an tír agus na daoine a chónaíonn inti, go speisialta na comharsna is deise di, agus ag smaoineamh siar ar chomhráite faoina saol ó lá go lá, cuimhní a thugann tomhas eile isteach ina cuid saothar.

Is ealaíontóir iontach cumasach í Melita agus feidhmíonn an John Martin Gallery, Londain, agus na Taylor Galleries i mBaile Átha Cliath ar a son. Agus, cosúil le Teresa, tá sise fosta ar thús cadhnaíochta ó thaobh na flaithiúlachta de, i gcónaí ag spreagadh agus ag cur ar fáil tacaíochta d’ealaíontóirí atá ag gabháil i mbun a ngairme. Is cinnte go bhfuil ár réigiún agus cuid mhór dár gcuid ealaíontóirí i bhfad níos fearr as de thairbhe na hidirghabhála a rinne an dá bhean shuntasach seo. Ba mhaith linn ar mbuíochas ó chroí a chur in iúl dóibh beirt.

Spré Solais: Kindlings

Taispeántas: Teresa Kennedy agus Melita Denaro

Teresa attended the Ruskin School, Oxford and the Bath Academy of Art until 1951 where she specialised in oil painting and completed her studies with an Art Teachers Diploma. Shortly after her marriage to Gilbert, Teresa moved to Kenya in 1955 where she continued to teach art. In 1970 the family moved to Donegal where they settled in the family home in Cashelnagor, Gortahork. Once settled, she continued to teach night classes locally at Gortahork VEC throughout the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and established the annual Gortahork Summer Exhibition. Teresa continued her own practice throughout this period and was commissioned to paint ‘The Virgin and Child’ for the presentation Sisters in Athlone as well as participating in group shows at the Gordon Gallery, Derry and the Glebe Gallery, Churchill to name a few. In 2004 An Gailearaí hosted a retrospective exhibition of Teresa’s work spanning 50 years. The exhibition was a happy success for Teresa and had excellent attendance records from a regional audience.  

Those who are familiar with Teresa’s work will remember her skilful and eloquent oil painting but may be less familiar with her accomplished life drawings. Her practised and adept watercolours are also to be recalled, their immediacy and assuredness proficiently executed. Many of us witnessed her out and about her locality documenting her surroundings – visual testimonies of her place and people. For Teresa, teaching, supporting, encouraging and sharing was in her blood and for those artists who had the good fortune to meet Teresa we will always remember her as a shinning light of positivity and endless generosity. 

In the early 1990’s Teresa invited Melita Denaro to conduct weekend painting workshops in Falcarragh, Dunfanaghy and Ramelton. And so began another line of artistic patronage in the region. In 1992 she helped found the ‘Atlantic 92 Art Group’ which recently had a 20th anniversary exhibition in April at the Glebe Gallery.

Melita was born in Burt in Inishowen and after her fathers death the family moved to England. Later, she graduated from Central St. Martins in Ceramics after which she studied for a further three years securing a Post Graduate Diploma in painting at the Royal Academy, London. This training equipped Melita with an outstanding technical confidence.

Melita’s family have always maintained their cottage on Doagh to which she returns every month to work. There, perched amongst the hills and dunes of her immediate surroundings Melita records every nuance of what is happening in her landscape: the air, the land, the sky, the sun, the water, the wind, the livestock - the moment. She traces the suns endless attempts to shine upon us and the land, a daily experience, ever changing. The titles to her work are both poetic and perceptive, bringing together the land and its dwellers and in particular her close neighbours, recalling memories of conversations about their daily lives that breathe another dimension in to her works.  

Melita is a very successful artist and is represented by the John Martin Gallery London and the Taylor Galleries Dublin. Yet, and akin to Teresa, she too is the bearer of glowing halo of light of generosity as she continues to encourage and support fledgling artists. Our region and many of our artists are the better for the interaction of these two remarkable women and our thanks is tenfold. 

Úna Campbell
An Gailearaí
July 2012

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