Take a Bow, Galway Arts Festival 2012

Oh, what a brilliant few weeks it has been. On behalf of all the GAF 2012 team, thank you so very much for your enduring support. Not only has it been another incredibly successful year, we have broken records for attendance across the board. A staggering 30,000 people turned out to see the fantastic Absolut Festival Gallery and a truly phenomenal 160,000 people attended the festival over two weeks. What can we say only a huge and heartfelt thanks. What an inspiration it is to see that despite everything – or perhaps because of it – a real love of the arts still exists in this country.

Over the course of the festival, various teams have been working away to ensure that events and experiences were captured for everyone to enjoy, now and always. GAF TV have been working especially hard, the fruits of which you can check out on their YouTube channel here, where you can enjoy highlights from this year’s festival, like this wonderful look at Macnas’s This Thunderous Heart:

While the two weeks in July when the festival takes place are GAF’s primary focus, work on the festival takes place all year round. For breaking news, exclusive content and to keep in the loop about next year’s preparations, not to mention enjoying the fruits of festivals past including this year’s, be sure to check out our website http://www.galwayartsfestival.com/, our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/galwayartsfestival and our Twitter feed https://twitter.com/galwayartsfest/ Over the next few days, we’ll be posting highlights of 2012, which you won’t want to miss.

All that remains is for us to say one final word of thanks to the people of Galway, all our sponsors, our fantastic performers, our volunteers and all of you who supported GAF 2012 in your thousands. Here’s to a record breaking 2013. We’ll leave you with a few exclusive images from this year’s magnificent festival, taken by Colm Hogan. Until next time.

Macnas turn the streets of Galway into a wonderland with This Thunderous Heart.

Artistic Director Paul Fahy basks in the fantastic setting of the Absolut Festival Gallery, which welcomed an amazing 30,000 people through its doors during the 2 weeks of the festival.

Spain’s Kamchatka perform their unique brand of street theatre for delighted on-lookers during GAF 2012.


Where to Begin? Highlights of GAF 2012’s Week One…

Writing in the Irish Times on Thursday, Laurence Mackin said of this year’s festival offerings, ‘An embarrassment of riches, but what else did you expect from the GAF?’ What else indeed. This year’s incredible line up keeps rolling on – check http://galwayartsfestival.com/ lest you miss out – but here on the GAF blog, we’re going to take a moment to appreciate what has been a magnificent opening week for GAF 2012. In no particular order, here are a few of the many highlights…


Oh, what a night it was in the Big Top on Thursday, when Nile Rodgers and Chic turned the Galway into a 21st century Studio 54. Rapturous cries of recognition from the crowd filled the starry night air as the hits kept coming from David Bowie to Madonna to glorious days of disco. You had to ask yourself, ‘is there anything Nile Rodgers hasn’t produced/written?!’ Even the sun showed up for proceedings. Before the gig, the legendary Mr. Rodgers tweeted to say, ‘Galway is FANTASTIC.’ It’s fair to surmise that the admiration was very much reciprocated, with many revelers declaring Chic to have been the gig of the year.

John Mahoney and Rondi Reed give an acting tour de force in the deeply moving The Outgoing Tide.

The Outgoing Tide

Bruce Graham’s The Outgoing Tide opened in the Town Hall Theatre to rave reviews and standing ovations. Starring John Mahoney and Rondi Reed, stage veterans and actors of immense talent and skill, the play moved audiences to tears. If art is an expression of what it is to be human, then The Outgoing Tide invites us to consider what we would want for ourselves and our loved ones as we and they move ever closer to the twilight of our lives. Powerful, deeply affecting stuff.

David Mach’s Precious Light

The crowds thronging the opening of this year’s Absolut Festival Gallery put paid to the notion that ‘most people don’t visit art galleries’. Simply put, when galleries are easily accessible, beautifully constructed and packed with incredible work as the Absolut Festival Gallery is (and will be through out the festival), people will come in their droves. The centerpiece, David Mach’s Precious Light, invites us to look at how the bible has impacted on our every day lives  and also the entire course of human existence. The Irish Times described Precious Light as ‘epic’, which also applies to the experience of seeing it. Not to be missed.

Artistic Director Paul Fahy with artist David Mach, creator of Precious Light at the Absolut Festival Gallery during its transformation from one time furniture shop to world class gallery.

Christy Moore with Declan Sinnott

After Chic, it was going to take something really special to raise the roof off the Big Top. Thankfully, an Irish man of legendary standing took to the stage on Friday night: the one, the only Christy Moore and what ensued had Twitter alight with praise and joyous outpourings. With support from Four Men and a Dog, Christy played a blinder and the crowd gobbled it up. In the words of a showband man, ‘send them home sweating!’ That’s exactly what the man from Clare did. A triumph.

The Great Goat Bubble

Economics can be hard to grasp. Nevertheless, after the financial turmoil of the past few years, more and more people are attempting to wrap their heads around the complexities of the financial markets. The Great Goat Bubble looks to continue that education in economics and reminds us of the dangerous forces at play when we invest everything we have in the pursuit of unlikely riches. Playwright, novelist and one time Galway resident, Julian Gough comes up with a novel device to explain the intricacies of the market: goats, which you can trade, sell and of course, buy far too much of at exaggerated, unsustainable prices. A cautionary tale if there ever was one, packed with wit and insight, The Great Goat Bubble (playing at the Druid Theatre) was a winner with audiences  and critics this week.

What do goats have to do with our economic collapse? All will be revealed in the Great Goat Bubble by Julian Gough.

We could, as Mrs Doyle might say, go on and on and on – but we won’t. Plenty of time to blow our own trumpet before the festival is out. In the meantime, thank you to everyone who has enjoyed the festival so far. We hope you continue to do so. For those of you who haven’t managed to sample the delights, there’s only one question to ask: what are you waiting for? GAF 2012 won’t be around forever! Check out http://www.galwayartsfestival.com/ and enjoy yourself.

See Things Differently: Visual Art and GAF

Maya Angelou once said, ‘life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the sooner we will be able to treat life as art.’ All too often, our lives feel like something we endure rather than enjoy but escaping from the humdrum is easier than you think, particularly when Galway Arts Festival is in full swing.

Lynne O’Loughlin and Pete Ray’s Ghost Train

At some point over the next week, why not claim a day for yourself, steal away and wander through the city, taking in this this year’s visual art exhibitions as you go. Feed your mind and your soul for free. Here’s what we recommend:

Start: The Kenny Gallery in Liosbaun Retail Park showcases an exhibition of limited edition prints by Dublin’s Stoney Road Press. Artists featured include Louis le Brocquy, Dorothy Cross and Alice Maher among many others. The Kenny Gallery and Bookshop holds a special place in Galway’s artistic history, making it the perfect starting point.

Next: The Absolut Festival Gallery at the Galway Shopping Centre, where you’ll see David Mach’s brilliant Precious Light, Brian Maguire’s haunting Prison Paintings, Joe Comerford’s Roadside, Lynne O’Loughlin and Pete Fay’s Ghost Train, an affecting trip through post Celtic Tiger Ireland; and also Marina Abramovic and Charles Atlas’s SSS. The gallery was specially created for this year’s festival – it was a former furniture shop – and is quite simply stunning. A visual feast, once you’ve finished dining, go into the shopping centre for a quick refuel at the Gourmet Tart Company and then head  toward NUIG.

Jennifer Cunningham’s Just Add Water

Next: holidays – we love them, especially when it comes to memories of Irish childhood holidays. In the NUIG Art Gallery, Jennifer Cunningham’s Just Add Water looks at the once popular now dilapidated Irish holiday resorts of Galway, Dublin and Sligo’s Coney Island. How times change.

Continue to: just across the road from NUIG is the university hospital, which houses Between Worlds, an exhibition that brings together the work of artists Emmet Kierans, Seán Guinan and Ramon Kassam. Each artist uses paint to examine different realities which exist both in the world around us and within the practice of painting itself. When finished, cross over the Corrib and head in the direction of Dominic Street.

Continue to: Galway Arts Centre, 47 Dominic Street where you can enjoy The Performance Collective, a piece that critically engages with how live art is presented in a gallery context through improvisation and collaboration. Afterwards, if you’re feeling peckish and fancy a little bit of something French and fancy, check out Rouge, 38 Dominick Street.

The Performance Collective

Continue to:  beautiful Salthill, where you can take in a walk on the prom and visit the Norman Villa Gallery to view award-winning Mick O’Dea’s work. Mick’s art has been exhibited all over the world and features in many major collections. He is also a sought after portrait artist.

End: after all that walking and art appreciating, you’ve earned yourself a pint in Neachtain’s, so head back toward the city. If you’re feeling up for it, you can also check out The Bureau of ‘We Will Point You in the Right Direction’ in the Dock’s Shed, Middle Pier and if you like your art with a good dash of satire, check out George Grosz’s The Big No at the Galway Museum, which is right beside the fantastic Nimmos, which is always good for grub.

For more info on our visual arts programme and all things festival related, check out: http://www.galwayartsfestival.com/

Watch It: GAF TV

A GAF TV screenshot of the Misterman set.

With so much packed into the two weeks of Galway Arts Festival every single year, keeping track and preserving all those special moments is a mammoth task. Thankfully, GAF TV have been doing a stellar job of capturing the magic on film and now, for your viewing pleasure, the GAF archive is available online.

If there’s anything you’ve missed or a favourite festival memory you’d like to relive, then spend some quality time flicking through the gems on http://gaftv.ie/ For this year’s latest GAF TV reports, including an exclusive interview with Chic’s legendary Nile Rodgers, check out http://www.youtube.com/galwayartsfest or click on the clips below, featuring comedian and star of RTÉ’s the Savage Eye Dave McSavage, artist David Mach whose exhibition Precious Light is taking the festival by storm and Michael Kaeshammer, one of Canada’s brightest musical exports.

For more of GAF TV and all things festival related, check out http://galwayartsfestival.com/

ABSOLUT Art 2012: Unmissable Mach

Though we may rarely realize it, the Bible has had a more profound effect on human existence than any other text. Our ideas of good and evil, of the afterlife and damnation spring from between its covers; to this day, its far reaching power remains.  Scottish artist and Turner Prize nominee David Mach has been so inspired by the King James Bible that his latest work Precious Light undertakes to explore the themes and legacies of what is the most influential book, ever.

Visually stunning: David Mach’s Precious Light

An exhibition that has taken over three years to complete, Precious Light is a visually arresting work utilizing collage, sculpture and words to profound effect. Housed in the ABSOLUT Festival Gallery (a venue the size of a football field, folks and designed especially for the festival going from a warehouse to a world class gallery in a matter of weeks) Precious Light was transported by 40 articulated trucks and is Mach’s largest exhibition to date.

Speaking about the ABSOLUT Festival Gallery, the biggest temporary structure of the festival, Artistic Director Paul Fahy says, ‘…the ABSOLUT Festival Gallery is going to look amazing again this year! We have a great new design for the gallery and the build is progressing really well and is the most ambitious gallery project of the Festival’s history. Artwork from around the world has begun to arrive in Galway. The gallery will be home to five extraordinary exhibitions from David Mach, Marina Abramovic with Charles Atlas, Brain Maguire, Joe Comerford and Lynne O’Loughlin with Pete Ray.’

Artistic Director Paul Fahy and David Mach take a break during the transformation of the ABSOLUT Gallery space.

The ABSOLUT Festival Gallery is a fantastic space and experience. It was one of the jewels in the crown of last year’s festival – a common refrain around Galway at the time was, ‘aww – can we not keep it?’ – and this year’s is guaranteed to be even more impressive. Full details on this amazing space and all of this year’s visual art exhibitions are available from http://www.galwayartsfestival.com/

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