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Galway is a place of magic in artist’s eyes

Judy Murphy

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Jennifer Cunningham, with her daughter Emily Acheson, at her exhibition 'After the Future' in the Festival Gallery, Market Street, for Galway International Arts Festival. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

By Judy Murphy

Lifestyle – Artist Jennifer Cunningham sees Galway in a different light to most and her rose-tinted, nostalgic look at the city, and its iconic buildings, forms one of the highlight exhibitions of the Galway International Arts Festival.

The Hangar, Seapoint, O’Brien’s Shop in Salthill, Heneghan’s Nurseries in Mervue, the Corrib Great Southern Hotel – iconic Galway buildings are central to the paintings of city artist Jennifer Cunningham. But while they’re instantly recognisable because Jennifer is a brilliant draughtswoman, the Galway she has created is also very different from the one we encounter every day.

Her rose-tinted buildings are either under construction or falling apart and some have images of fairground and circuses juxtaposed on the landscape, while young girls populate many of the works, evoking a different, otherworldly place.

After the Future, Jennifer Cunningham’s exhibition for this year’s Galway International Arts Festival is in the Festival Gallery, sited in the former printworks of the Connacht Tribune.

In addition to 20 paintings, she has also created a video installation and nine model pieces, depicting funfairs, and woodlands. These are playful and fun and show meticulous attention to detail.

In person, Jennifer is pretty precise, too. Warm and happy to explain her artistic process and the ideas behind her work, she can trace her love of art back to her childhood.

Home for Jennifer as a young child was in the now-demolished Rahoon Flats, before her family moved to Castle Park and then to Newcastle when she was a teenager. These days, she lives in Tuam with her husband, Tim Acheson, also an artist, and their three-year-old daughter, Emily, but Galway city and its deserted buildings continue to inspire her.

Her English-born grandmother had been awarded a place in art college but World War II put paid to herdream. Jennifer’s mother, Marie, inherited that talent, and graduated from GMIT with a Fine Arts Degree as a mature student. Jennifer’s maternal grandfather, meanwhile, was an engineer who was involved in designing Merlin Park Hospital in the 1950s, while her late father Pádraig was a highly skilled carpenter, who loved stories and music – stories are a vital element of her work.

Jennifer won her first art competition aged six and still has her prize of a teddy bear. After that, she entered the Galway Advertiser Christmas Art competition, winning a watercolour set which she still uses. A prize that has endured, she says with her warm smile.

And she sold her first painting – a Connemara landscape – for twenty pence when she was nine to a neighbour across the road.

So, it was no wonder Jennifer opted to study Fine Art at GMIT where she specialised in print-making and her tutors included the renowned UK artist Norman Ackroyd. His attention to detail and precision were incredible, she says, and he was a big influence.

She loved college and was there from 10am-10pm every day.

“For me, it was my Utopia. I knew I had found my tribe of wonderful eccentric people and I could be as eccentric as I wanted to be. A lot of them are still very good friends today.”

Jennifer graduated in 2002 with First Class honours and won several awards for her etchings, including the Taylor Art Award at the RDS. She used the money from that to set up a print studio in the garden shed of her family home.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Connacht Tribune tributes to loved ones

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These past few months have seen so many communities left to silently mourn family members and friends, whose funerals they would have attended in such numbers, were it not for the current Covid-19 restrictions.

But those that are gone have not been, and will not be, forgotten – which is why we want to open the pages of the Connacht Tribune to you to tell their stories.

If you’ve lost a loved one, whether to Covid-19 or not, or if your community or organization or sports club is mourning the death of a valued member and friend, you can email us your tribute and we will publish it in our papers.

CONNACHT TRIBUNE OBITUARY TRIBUTE

All you have to do it to click on the above link, and it will take you to a short set of questions which you can fill in – and then add whatever you feel tells the story of the life of your friend, family member or colleague.

You can email that with a photograph to us, to news@ctribune.ie or you can post it to ‘Obituaries’, Connacht Tribune, 21 Liosban Business Park – and please enclose a contact number in case we have any queries.

We sympathise with anyone who has lost a loved one at this awful time, particularly given that so many people were unable to mourn with them and their family in person – and we hope that this will help in some small way to show those family members that we are all united in grief, even from a distance.

This is an additional feature we are providing alongside our long-established weekly Family Notices section where loved ones are remembered immediately by Months Mind Notices and annual anniversary remembrances.  You can contact our team for further details at salesadmin@ctribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Alison’s Euro Award for Covid information project

Dave O'Connell

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Mike Feerick...found of Alison.

The Galway-established online course providing information about coronavirus in more than 70 languages – reaching over 350,000 people worldwide – is among 23 projects from the EU and the UK recognised for their outstanding contribution to fighting COVID-19 and its disastrous consequences.

The European Economic and Social Committee has awarded the Civil Solidarity Prize to the Irish learning platform Alison – founded by social entrepreneur Mike Feerick and based in Loughrea – for its free online course which was developed and published at the very start of the pandemic to educate as many people as possible about the virus, its spread and its effects.

The EESC, an advisory body representing Europe’s civil society at the EU level, selected the learning platform Alison as the best Irish candidate for the Prize, saying that its project “Coronavirus: What you need to know” stood out as a shining example of solidarity and civic responsibility during the COVID-19 crisis.

The online course was launched in February 2020 when the knowledge about the virus was still very scarce and the governments were still struggling with how to respond to the looming crisis.

With its training programme, based on WHO and CDC guidelines and continuously updated to include the latest information, the Irish platform has given people free access to potentially life-saving knowledge.

Translated in less than four months into more than 70 languages, with the help of 5,000 volunteers many of whom were immigrants, it had been completed by approximately 350,000 people as of September 2020. Some 100,000 people signed up for it in a single day.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www/connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Covid a whole different ball game for Galway camogie nurse

Dara Bradley

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Pictured at the presentation of a Galway jersey and message of thanks from Galway GAA to frontline workers at UHG this week were (from left) Galway Senior Camogie player and nurse Emma Helebert, Galway GAA Chairman Pat Kearney, Galway Senior Ladies Football player and nurse Tracey Leonard, Galway Bay FM commentator Tommy Devane, and Eoin McGinn, Assistant Director of Nursing.

Galway camogie star Emma Helebert doesn’t shy away from a question about Covid-19 anti-vaxxers and their online conspiracy theories.

“Personally, since this pandemic has hit, I’m allergic to social media over the whole thing,” she says.

A midwife at University Hospital Galway, the 2019 All-Ireland winner agrees that vaccines involve personal choice.

But that choice should be informed by trusted sources of information, such as the HSE or NHS websites – and not random often nefarious and anonymous contributors on social media.

“There are more reliable sources of information than turning to places like Facebook or whatever online forums are talking about it,” she says.

“What’s scaring people more than the actual thought of the vaccines is these opinions that are being forced down people’s throats and they’re seeing it every time they go on Facebook and scrolling on social media.

“My only advice to people who are scared is to do your own research. Go to the reliable sources of information and don’t believe what you see on Facebook.

“Unfortunately, there are people out there who create pages that are full of negativity or full of lies. It only takes one scary thought or piece of information you’ve heard to cling to you that’ll make you not want to get it,” she adds.

Read the full interview with Emma Helebert in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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