Emerging artists get to showcase their work at Cork city gallery

The Student of the Year exhibition opens at the Lavit Gallery in Cork city this week, writes COLETTE SHERIDAN
Emerging artists get to showcase their work at Cork city gallery

Work by Fionn Van der Knoll, who is showcasing his work at the Lavit Gallery, Cork.

THE work of four talented artists who graduated from the Crawford College of Art and Design last year is on show at the Lavit Gallery from January 27 to February 12.

These ‘students of the year’ share the accolade with well known artists such as Maud Cotter, Eilis O’Connell, Vivienne Roche, Eileen Healy and Stephen Doyle, whose careers took off after being granted the award. As well as the exhibition, the awardees receive a cash prize. The sponsor for this prize is Robert Nathan Accountants in Cork.

Artist Lorraine Parker.
Artist Lorraine Parker.

LORRAINE PARKER

Lorraine, 48, who lives outside Carrigaline, is exhibiting work that explores female identity in the domestic space.

The Bray native, who moved to Cork to attend the Crawford, uses everyday objects such as scrubbing brushes and materials including plant and animal fibres, to represent the merging of the body with objects and “the complex roles of women within this sphere”.

While attending the Crawford, Lorraine, a single mother-of-three children aged 26, 16 and 12, realised that she “loved looking at ordinary everyday overlooked things and the domestic space. It’s the kind of space in which you can be overlooked. It can subsume you and swallow you whole.”

Lorraine always wanted to study art.

“I would have gone to college in my early twenties and did some animation at Ballyfermot College of Further Education. But life can take you elsewhere. I found myself working in stupid jobs and also at home.

“So the domestic sphere is important to me. I’ve been looking at the more hostile aspects of it and how it can be a trap. I look at attributes that are put upon women. We’re supposed to be great nurturers. I think that’s what keeps you in the domestic space. You hear it all your life. It’s kind of like background noise.”

Women’s anger is also something that Lorraine is exploring in her exhibition contribution, explaining: “Nobody wants to look at that.”

She has clearly found her niche and is currently doing a residency in the textile department of the Crawford. She also has a residency coming up at the National Sculpture Factory.

“‘The Student of the Year’ award has been a great focus. I never expected it. It’s a fantastic opportunity,” she said.

Artist Lorraine Poulter.
Artist Lorraine Poulter.

LORRAINE POULTER

Another mature student, who is one of the students of the year featuring at the Lavit Gallery is, 61-year-old Lorraine.

Living near Macroom, and originally from England, Lorraine has family on her mother’s side in Cork. She is thrilled to be “part of such a prestigious group”.

Her practice involves seeking out buildings in the Irish countryside that are abandoned and overlooked or are facing demolition. She is interested in capturing “the ethereal and lost memories of these places, creating a link between the past and the present.”

She transfers images onto a variety of papers and fabrics such as calico. Lorraine stacks them in layers, each different from the one beneath, representing distinct chapters in the history of the building.

Up until then, she had been doing screen printing but with the first Covid lockdown, she couldn’t do that work from home as she didn’t have the equipment. So she took her camera out and started photographing ruins.

Work by artist Lorraine Poulter.
Work by artist Lorraine Poulter.

While Lorraine always enjoyed drawing, she “got into art purely by accident”.

“When we moved to Cork seven years ago, my husband and I joined an art club in Ballincollig. Our daughter, Hannah, always quite a keen artist, became ill. She decided she would like to learn art at St John’s. 

"I joined her there as her support worker. Hannah didn’t finish the course. I continued doing it and, as luck would have it, I was accepted into the Crawford which was totally mind-blowing.

“It was a great learning experience. There was so much I didn’t know. I had spent my working life as an early years special needs worker at nursery schools.”

Lorraine did applied art at the Crawford.

“It opened my eyes as to how things work. Now, when I see a piece of pottery, I think about how it was made and how pottery has been used over the years.”

Ever curious, when Lorraine heard that some fishermen’s cottages in Ardmore were going to be demolished, she stitched nets onto calico.

When she heard about an abandoned school in the Kilmurry area, she made a piece of art inspired by it.

“From the work, I’ve learned that the past is very much here, very much within a building. I want to try to capture that.”

Being a mature student “was all very strange but enjoyable. There is a different technique of learning in Ireland than there is in England. I never enjoyed the learning process in the UK so I avoided it. I’m still learning, doing a masters in art history at UCC.”

And Lorraine is glad to report that Hannah is “doing great, very much on the mend and is actually studying at the Crawford now.”

Lorraine’s advice to older people that want to learn new skills or disciplines is that “it’s never too late. There will always be naysayers but you should do what’s in your heart. It has been so liberating for me.”

Artist Luna Torresel Rave.
Artist Luna Torresel Rave.

LUNA TORRESEL RAVE

Luna Torresel Rave, 25, who moved from Argentina to Cork with her parents as a child because of a recession in her native country, is delighted at the honour of being a student of the year.

But she admits that she hasn’t had a chance to think about art for quite some time, what with working at a Subway outlet.

“I’m really excited about the exhibition. I think it will get me back into the art scene.”

Luna’s exhibition piece is a video with a jarring sound that has two panels. One panel depicts a kitchen and back garden where the washing is hung on a clothes line while the other panel shows a night time journey. It’s all part of an exploration as to what it means to be displaced.

The work questions what it means to be displaced and looks at the possibility of integrating oneself into an unknown environment.

“The night time journey could be a bus trip to Belfast or somewhere. The video is a play on two different spaces, one that feels comfortable as it’s your home and the other one that’s very uncertain. You’re tired, there’s babies crying on the bus and you don’t really know what you’re going to arrive to on this late night journey.”

Luna says she has often had something of an identity crisis.

“I’ve always felt that I’m from Argentina - and from Cork. It’s trying to face these two contradictions and the struggle I went through trying to assimilate myself, and at the same time, fighting that. 

"When I was a teenager, I was angry because I wasn’t from Cork and yet it’s where I live.”

Now that Luna was recently granted citizenship of Ireland, she feels more settled. Her video is about two opposing ideas clashing. In her own head, she is “consolidating the two sides of myself” She adds: “Right after finishing at the Crawford, I got my citizenship. It’s almost symbolic.”

Artist Fionn Van der Noll.
Artist Fionn Van der Noll.

FIONN VAN DER NOLL

Fionn, 23, who is half Dutch and half Irish, grew up outside Tralee. He was always interested in art and his parents are artists.

“I grew up in an art atmosphere, always going to exhibitions. Art has always been a part of my life,” says Fionn.

His work that is on show at the Lavit Gallery uses “a sculptural and printed language, exploring blends of traditional techniques and newer technologies, from basket weaving to digital painting.”

Fionn explains that his work stems from “an interest in the climate crisis and the different solutions to it.”

He says he tries to be optimistic about the future, adding: “There is no point in feeling hopeless about it.”

At the Crawford, Fionn learned many skills including industrial metal working, welding and working on a large scale.

“But I think the most valuable part of art college is having the space to go to with other artists.

“You have that creative atmosphere. You can go in and, even if you’re not working and feel you’re in a rut, you can talk to people. The enthusiasm and drive of people bounces off each other.”

Fionn is grateful to be awarded a ‘Student of the Year’ prize.

“It’s very encouraging because it can be quite intimidating, leaving college and trying to approach a career.”

See https://lavitgallery.com/

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