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Moving art that explores boundaries between natural and artificial worlds



Patricia Piccinini with her piece The Long Awaited.

“The children look so real,” is the constant refrain from the viewers who are flocking to Patricia Piccinini’s exhibition, Relativity, in the Arts Festival Gallery, Market Street.

And the ‘children’ in the recognisable, yet fantastical worlds of Piccinini’s surreal sculptures are completely lifelike, from their sparkling eyes to the little moles on their arms and the cuticles on their nails.

These children are in bizarre situations – in The Welcome Guest a little girl standing on a bed is gazing into the eyes of a creature, part sloth part mutant, while a pheasant stands aloof at the end of the bed.

In The Long Awaited a little boy and an animal – part human, part dugong (a sea mammal) are snuggled together on a bench, eyes closed, oblivious to the world around them. It’s a demonstration of total trust and it’s a favourite of Patricia’s as it’s all about someone allowing someone else to love them.

The Observer sees a little boy on top of a leaning stack of chairs, perched there so delicately that one viewer had an urge to tell him ‘come down from there in case you hurt yourself’.

If that were the extent of Australian artist Piccinini’s work, she’d have Galway audiences eating out of her hands by now. But there’s more – further down the gallery, shiny metal dominates as two Vespa scooters get up close and personal in the Lovers while wall pieces, a mix of the natural and surreal, explore orifices, sexuality and endangered species.

And there are two video installations, both equally strange, that raise unsettling questions about their subjects.

These various works are made with vastly different materials, but all explore the same themes, explains Patricia over a coffee in a restaurant beside the gallery.

“My world is where the artificial and natural come together – where the boundaries collapse a bit. That’s where everything in this exhibition comes from,” she explains

The boundaries between nature and science are a particular preoccupation of this softly spoken artist, whose background is part Irish, part Italian.

“It’s how responsible we are about what we do,” she says of humanity’s approach to nature and the environment.

Her most recent work is the film installation Tender, showing in the Festival Gallery, about an ordinary young couple who seem to be embarking on a very intimate moment. But as we follow them to a bedroom, we realise all is not what it seems, as the woman is nurturing mutant infants on the bed. We don’t know if the pair are engaged in scientific research, or a hobby, or something clandestine, but it makes us question what is going on here.

Tender was inspired by an event in Australia where a couple hired a woman in India to carry an IVF baby for them, as they were unable to conceive, explains Patricia. When they travelled to India to collect the baby, they learned the woman had borne twins. They left one behind, the one they didn’t want. Patricia was sufficiently shaken to create this piece in response.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.


Folk duo launch What Will Be Will Be



Niall Teague and Pádraic Joyce.

Folk duo Niall Teague and Pádraic Joyce are launching their new album What Will We Be, a  blend of folk, Americana and acoustic music, this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in An Taibhdhearc.

The success of their well-received 2020 release Taobh le Taobh, as well as recent successes at the Pan Celtic and Oireachtas Song Contests, spurred the duo on to record this new album which represents many years of collaboration and musical development.

It features Niall and Pádraic on vocals, harmonies, and acoustic guitars, Maidhc Ó hÉanaigh on double bass and Neil Fitzgibbon on fiddle. The catchy title track, What Will We Be, features contributions from percussionist Jim Higgins (The Stunning, Christy Moore, Paul Brady) and haunting, driving melodies on vocals, guitar, and fiddle.

Themes of love and hope are woven through Come Away with Me which features interplay between piano and fiddle as well as rich vocal harmonies.

People, places, and broken dreams are celebrated and lamented on Martin and Tom, Guitar Gold, Memories of You and Achill Island. The influence of David Henry Thoreau’s novel Walden features on the tracks Simple and Wise and Walden, with the beauty of nature, escape and simple pleasures at their core.

The album moves from minimalistic folk ballads such as Galway Ghost to swirling, string-laden arrangements on the song Neptune, both of which are influenced by maritime tales from Galway. Much of the work on this album was supported by the Arts Council, including work with musical arranger Eoin Corcoran and the string ensemble Treo.

The album will be launched this Friday, May 19, at 8pm in an Taibhdhearc. Tickets €22, plus booking fee at

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All roads lead to Dunmore as town tunes up County Fleadh



Most of the competitions for young musicians will take place this Saturday in Dunmore Community School. All the competitions are open to the public.

Dunmore is the place to be this weekend for lovers of traditional music, as the Galway County Fleadh will take place there from this Friday, May 19, to Sunday, May 23.

It is 10 years since Dunmore last hosted a fleadh and the local Comhaltas branch, which has re-formed since Covid, is looking forward to facilitating this gathering of music, song, dance and craic.

The official Opening Concert will take place in Dunmore Town Hall this Friday at 8pm with the acclaimed Mulcahy family from Limerick. Mick, Louise and Michelle are well known throughout the country, thanks to their live performances, television appearances and numerous CDs. They were the winners of the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Grúpa Ceoil Award for 2023.  Tickets for their concert can be purchased on the door and a great night of music is promised.

Two days of competitions will kick off this Saturday at the town’s Community School, with more than 1,500 competitors taking part. Participants will be hoping to qualify for the Connacht Fleadh 2023, which will be held in Ballina, County Mayo, from June 23 to July 2.

Competitions for those aged Under 10, Under 12 and Under 15 will be held in a large variety of instruments on Saturday, as well as in singing and Comhrá Gaeilge. Sunday’s competitions will be for the Under 18 and Over 18 ages groups, as well as in dancing.

On both days a large entry is expected for Grúpaí Cheoil and Céilí Band competitions across all age groups.

Seventeen Comhaltas branches from across Galway will have participants in this weekend’s competitions, which will result in a large number of visitors to the Dunmore area.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the competitions, which offer a great opportunity to hear and see the talent on display. There will be sessions in local pubs over the weekend as well and everybody is welcome to attend these.

For more information on the County Fleadh, go to


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Piano concert rescheduled for Tuesday



Pianist Cédric Pescia.

Music for Galway’s concert with renowned Swiss pianist Cédric Pescia which had been due to take place on April 27 but which had to be deferred, will now take place next Tuesday, May 23, at 8pm, in the Emily Anderson Concert Hall at the University of Galway.

This concert of German classics with Bach at its core, will brings the Bach element of Music for Galway’s 41st season to an end.

This world-class pianist who won the famous Gina Bachauer International Artists Piano Competition, has a repertoire that spans many eras from baroque to contemporary and he is widely known for his elaborate programmes. Cédric Pescia describes music as  ‘language and movement at the same time’.

Audiences will have a chance to experience his soft, clear touch as he performs a programme for solo piano that will include classics such as Schumann’s popular Waldszenen (Forest Scenes), a suite of nine short pieces, and the penultimate of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, No. 31.  These pieces will be interspersed with French Suites by Bach.

■ Ticket for Cédric Pescia’s concert are available at, or by phone 091 705962 and on the door on the night. They cost €20/€18. The price for fulltime students of all ages is €6 while MfG Friends can avail of the friends’ rate of €16.

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