Celebrated Artist, Robert Ballagh, Opens Exciting ”Education For Life” Group Art Exhibition Of North Tipp VEC Education Centres

Celebrated artist, Robert Ballagh, was in LIT, Tipperary, Thurles, last week, to officially open the “Education For Life “Group Art Exhibition which featured 162 colourfully imaginative works by talented artists of all ages from Education Centres of North Tipperary VEC, including Colaiste Mhuire Co-Ed, Thurles, Thurles Education Centre, Drom and Nenagh VEC, Roscrea Education Centre, Colaiste Phobail, Roscrea, St Sileann’s, Templemore and Borrisokane Community College. The exhibition runs until Friday, April 20th.

Celebrated artist, Robert Ballagh, was in LIT, Tipperary, Thurles, last week, to officially open the “Education For Life “Group Art Exhibition which featured 162 colourfully imaginative works by talented artists of all ages from Education Centres of North Tipperary VEC, including Colaiste Mhuire Co-Ed, Thurles, Thurles Education Centre, Drom and Nenagh VEC, Roscrea Education Centre, Colaiste Phobail, Roscrea, St Sileann’s, Templemore and Borrisokane Community College. The exhibition runs until Friday, April 20th.

Mr Ciaran Lynch, Development Manager at LIT, Tipperary, Thurles, welcomed the huge gathering and said they were honoured to have artists of such national, regional and local renown there that night and also to have so many people who stimulate art and the development of art in our community. “We host many exhibitions here but this type of exhibition is particularly close to our heart because it’s in the community and it’s of the community”. He lauded the great work over the years of Jean Forbes Cooke of LIT Tipperary, Thurles. “She has been our stimulator”, he said. He also lauded Maria Lawlor of LIT, Thurles.

Mr David Leahy, CEO Of North Tipperary VEC, thanked LIT Tipperary, Thurles, for hosting the exhibition and Ciaran Lynch for his welcome. He praised the courage of the 162 artists who had displayed their work for our benefit and enjoyment. He explained that the VEC in North Tipperary has an Education Plan stretching for five years from last year through to 2015/16 and the theme is “Education For Life”.” We felt this year it would be much more beneficial if the students themselves told us what they understood “Education For Life” should mean. It could be life long education or education that enhances who we are as people and gives us life and enhances our life. Hopefully, it’s all of that and even a lot more. I think there is a lesson for me and others in terms of what are the artists telling us around that theme of “Education For Life”.” I know it was not easy to get 162 works of art presented in this fashion” He called for a round of applause for all the Art Teachers in the various Education Centres for their good work.

Artist and Art Teacher, Ms Regina Dorney of Colaiste Mhuire Co-Ed, Thurles, said the exhibition was the result of collaboration between the schools of North Tipperary under the guidance of CEO, Mr. David Leahy, and the wider community, including Jean Forbes Cooke and Maria Lawlor of LIT, Thurles.” She said “The exhibition, including oils, pastels inks, acrylics, watercolours and much more is centred around the artists’ interpretation of “Education For Life” and is expressed in painting styles from traditional to modernist styles of the 21st Century. Each artist has been very successful in expressing their very own interpretation of the theme of the exhibition. The artworks are created by students of different ages and cultures

Tonight’s event is about bringing together the emerging artists and established guest artists, Anne O’Connell(Loughmore), and one of our greatest Irish artists, Robert Ballagh. Anne submitted a painting entitled “Stepping Stones” and Robert Ballagh’s work has also graced the walls in LIT in the exhibition ,”Contemporary Ireland” , in March, 2009. This exhibition tonight opens up an opportunity to young people whose works share the same walls as these two artists and can instil in them a love and appreciation which can last throughout their lives. It also allows the established artists to become acquainted with the energy of young, creative minds”. She thanked Jean Forbes Cooke and Maria Lawlor of LIT, Thurles, for their support in setting up the exhibition and Robert Ballagh for opening it

She praised Level6 students, Eddie Kenehan and Catherine Fanning, for their involvement and wished them well when they are examined by FETAC later this year. Mr Robert Ballagh, former Chairman of the Artists Association in Ireland, speaking in English and as Gaeilge, was delighted to be back again in Thurles ”It’s exciting to be here to see this manifestation of art”. Referring to the universal popularity of the Arts, he said “Visit any town or village in Ireland and you will find the local Arts Group, people involved in the choir and people involved in an amateur drama group. You will find musicians and people who write poetry”. He said that about three years ago the EU did a survey looking at expenditure for the Arts in Europe “There are 27 countries in the EU and Ireland came in at number twenty seven in this respect, I still shout from the rooftops that the Arts are a crucially important aspect of our society. I really think the Arts deserve support and encouragement because not only are they critical to our health as a society but also the Arts represent something that our people are involved in or are interested in. This exhibition and other exhibitions like this show so strongly how the Arts can be a liberating experience for people. And the art you can see on the walls here comes from First Year in School to adults-a wide range”. And one thing it shows very clearly is how the Visual Arts can be such a liberating experience for people” Mr Ballagh congratulated North Tipperary VEC who had started this programme, ”Education For Life”.” I think it’s really creative, really imaginative”. He added “I think we should thank Regina Dorney of Colaiste Mhuire and also Catherine Fanning and Eddie Kenehan for all the work they put in to make this happen And, finally, I think I should give a very special mention to Anne O’ Connell, Who has overcome enormous difficulties to make that striking work(“Stepping Stones”) you saw as you came in here tonight”

The huge attendance included Thurles Camera Club members, Jim Troy, Neil Ryan, and, of course, artist, Eddie Kenehan. Also present was artist, Frank Rafter and his wife, Betty, artist, Art Teacher and musician, PJ O’Connell of Colaiste Mhuire Co-Ed. Anne Conroy Seosaimhin Ni Cathail Sinead Tuohy and Denis Quinn(Principal) of Colaiste Mhuire Co-Ed. Met also Declan O’ Driscoll, brother of poet, Dennis O ‘Driscoll, and and writer, Proinnsias O Drisceoill. There too, were Patrick Crowe, Eleanor Crowe O ‘Sullivan, Thurles, Eileen Ryan Oakley, Roscrea, Rena O’ Brien, Thurles, Eileen Kennedy, Templetuohy and Geraldine O’Brien, Nenagh, and Eileen Kennedy sends best wishes to our girl in Thailand, Borrisoleigh lady, Elaine Hurley. Hi, Elaine! Eileen is also a member of a unique club, about which more anon.