Marja returns to Galway for new show at Kenny Gallery

Artist Marja van Kampen in her studio surrounded by work for her latest show, Recollections in Harmony and Colour.
Artist Marja van Kampen in her studio surrounded by work for her latest show, Recollections in Harmony and Colour.

Arts Week with Judy Murphy

“Accomplished and courageous”, is how novelist Nuala O’Connor has described the work of Dutch-born, Irish-based artist Marja van Kampen.

The Ballinasloe author of the critically acclaimed Becoming Belle was speaking as she officially launched Marja’s latest exhibition, Recollections in Harmony and Colour, at the City’s Kenny Gallery on Friday.

It’s the latest show from a woman who was a leading light in Galway’s artistic community for more than three decades. In 1986, Marja was a founder member of Galway’s Artspace Studios – an artist-led organisation that provided studio space and support for professional artists. Still going strong today, it was the first of its kind in the West of Ireland.

Marja has recently relocated to County Wexford with her husband Dick Donaghue.

She began working on her current collection after a trip to India, a country she visits regularly. On that particular trip, her imagination was stimulated by the beauty and spontaneity of the children and the closeness between mothers and their children.

Another major influence on Recollections in Harmony and Colour are photographs – colour and black and white – that Marja’s father took of her and her three sisters in the 1950s and ’60s. An enthusiastic amateur photographer, he left a large body of work that captured his daughters’ childhood lives.

“The foregrounding of women and girls as subject matter; the bold lines and dazzling use of colour; the surreal and lush nature of the landscapes,” are all aspects of Marja’s art that Nuala admires.

The novelist and short-story writer praised how “Marja looks at the love and intimacy enjoyed by sisters, mothers and daughters.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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