Spré Solais : Kindlings

Sheep by Teresa Kennedy
Sheep by Teresa Kennedy
Spré Solais : Kindlings
girl in pink jumper By Teresa Kennedy
Johnny Mickey saying 'she's a hardy woman, she's as tough as rubber and I tell you what, when the summer comes I'll be down there with my feet in the tide'. 14th November 2008  Oil on panel 7 x 8½ ins (18 x 22cm)
Sun at my back By Melita Denato
Spré Solais : Kindlings.

8th July - 21st September 2012

The Spré Solais : Kindlings exhibition mounted by An Gailearaí in Gweedore is dedicated to the memory of the late artist Teresa Kennedy in recognition of her tireless encouragement and support for artists living in the region. Teresa Kennedy and Melita Denaro were both guiding lights of visual art activity from Gweedore to the Inishowen Peninsula throughout the 1970’ and well into the 1990’s.

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 all through 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 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. May 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.

Artists included are:

Ian Gordon : Sarah Lewtas : Caitlín Ní Ghallachóir : Maura McGlynn : Sally Davidson : Katrina Quille : Bernie McBride : Sean Ó Gaothin : Ebie Francis : Kevin McGee : Marie O’Donoghue : Tess White.

Works by both Teresa and Melita are also included.