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Linenhall welcomes new artist-in-residence

Living

DELIGHTED’ Castlebar-born artist Bryan Gerard Duffy describes the Bolay Residency as a ‘wonderful opportunity’.

Arts centre’s inaugural Bolay Residency goes to Bryan Gerard Duffy

Ciara Moynihan

The Linenhall Arts Centre in Castlebar has announced the appointment of Mayo artist Bryan Gerard Duffy as its artist-in-residence. During the residency, Duffy will develop a site-specific artwork in the building, where it will remain indefinitely.
The multidisciplinary artist is ‘absolutely delighted’ to have been awarded the inaugural residency. “As a Castlebar native, I have seen the centre evolve over the years, and I am honoured to play a part in this process,” he said. “This is a wonderful opportunity in this strong community that has consistently embraced the visual arts throughout. I hope to do this venue justice. A special thank you to the Linenhall Visual Arts Committee for believing in my work, and to [the centre’s] Director Bernadette Greenan for her ongoing support of the visual arts.”
Working in sculpture, painting, photography, film and installation, Duffy’s previous work has investigated notions of displacement, and has taken him to England, Spain, Serbia, Kenya, Belarus, Western Sahara and the West Bank.

Fondly remembered
The four-week residency has been named the Bolay Residency in honour of visual artist Veronica Bolay, who sat on the Linenhall Arts Centre’s board of directors for 13 years. Bolay, who passed away earlier this year, was an avid supporter of the arts and is remembered fondly and highly respected by all at the Linenhall and beyond for her contribution to the artistic community in Mayo.
“Gracious, kind, warm and generous are the words that are repeated again and again in our own conversations about Veronica as we knew her not just for her distinguished career as a visual artist but as a friend and supporter to the team here for many years,” Bernadette Greenan said. “We believe that the Bolay Residency, in its support of an up-and-coming artist, will allow us to commemorate Veronica as she should be in the years to come.”
Former Linenhall Director, Marie Farrell, who worked with Bolay for many years, added: “Veronica Bolay was a great artist and she was also a very fine human being. In her many years of voluntary service as a member of the board of the Linenhall Arts Centre, her gentle, firm presence always ensured the work of the artist was at the centre of every decision made. I think it’s fitting that the Linenhall honours her by ensuring that, once again, the work of the artist is at the core of this residency.”
Bolay was born in during World War II in Hamburg, Germany, in 1941. She moved to Ireland in 1971 and resided in Dublin and Mayo, where she formed close ties to Westport and Clare Island. Much of her work was inspired by the Irish landscape, and she was perhaps best known for her atmospheric work in pastels and oils, though she also produced etchings and pen-and-ink works, as well as some figurative art.
A member of Aosdána and the RHA Gallery, Bolay’s work formed part of a pioneering 1978 exhibition of women artists held in the Project gallery in Dublin where she exhibited with, among others, Camille Souter and the late Mary Farl Powers. She showed regularly at the Hallward, Rubicon and Paul Kane galleries.
Commenting on her art, fellow Irish artist Alice Maher said: “The ‘quiet poetry’ of her work is often written about, but it is the singular focus and absolute dedication she had to her own personal visual language that I think of. She never once passed up an opportunity to help or encourage a younger artist, and this residency aims to fulfil that legacy in the best way possible, by providing time and space for an artist to focus solely on their work.”

Catalyst
Maher has also praised the new artist-in-resident’s work, saying Duffy’s ‘playful attitude to materials and situations counterbalances a very serious social conscience and political intent’, noting that the themes of his work have included ‘post-colonialism, media, cultural appropriation, and social, individual and collective responsibilities’.
“The Linenhall will benefit from the presence of this wonderful young artist, who seems just on the threshold of bringing his work to a whole new level,” she said.
During the residency, Duffy will develop a personal reflection on events during the lockdown, his family legacy with Duffy’s Photography (1912), and a conversation on the importance of the arts ‘as a survival (protective) mechanism’ during this period.
The work will adorn two walls in the Linenhall building, with the aim of further stimulating dialogue around visual arts in the building and prompting visitors and staff to consider the space in which they exist.
Running a residency has been an aspiration for some years for the arts centre, and the sudden interruption to normal life posed by the pandemic served as the catalyst to finally make it happen.
“Arts centres are where artists and art come alive and are a locus for all in the community to access the arts. This has proved particularly difficult in recent months,” Greenan explained. “We are very keen to bring life back to the building after the period of lockdown and having an artist create and work in the building is an opportune way to achieve this,” she added.

The residency will run until September, with a launch of the artwork set to take place later this year. For more about Bryan Gerard Duffy, see the artist’s website, www.bryangerardduffy.com.