Artist Birgit enchanted by ancient magical Silk Road

Birgit creating work for the 'A5 Art Fair', a fundraiser for Galway Art Centre.
Birgit creating work for the 'A5 Art Fair', a fundraiser for Galway Art Centre.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

An hour in the company of Birgit and Peter Lochmann should be prescribed for anyone suffering from the winter blues.  The retired couple, German-born and living in Corrandulla, have recently returned from a six-month road-trip along the Silk Road, the ancient trading route between Turkey and China.

They are full of fascinating and fun facts about their adventures, while artist Birgit has gone one step further and captured her memories in a series of drawings and paintings. Some of these are currently hanging in Renzo Gallery Café in Galway City in an exhibition that also includes images from other countries visited by this well-travelled duo.

Birgit and Peter were teenagers when they first met as dental technician students in Germany and they’ve been together ever since. They moved to Ireland in the early 1980s, settling in Galway after a stint in Limerick. They originally hail from Germany’s industrialised Ruhr Valley, and didn’t want to raise their children there.

Rural Galway was an attractive option and they eventually opened their own business in Corrandulla. The pair retired a couple of years ago, but it’s a busy retirement. They have two children and two grandchildren to whom they’re very close. Then there’s Birgit’s art. Peter, meanwhile, gives talks to schools about dental hygiene. And they travel. Boy, do they travel. Earlier this year, they hit off in their old VW T5 tourer to cover the Silk Road trade route. Their exotic destinations included the Baltic states, Siberia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan – but deliberately not Turkmenistan, one of the world’s worst dictatorships.

“I’ve always wanted to see the Silk Road,” explains Peter. “It has such an impressive history and was the first internet – the first link between East and West.”

Centuries ago, those exotic countries had a huge influence on the West in terms of religion, food, mathematics and literature, something the West should be more aware of today, he feels.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.