New things 'brewing' in world of art
To begin with this week a word about a fairly new gallery on the Ards Peninsula. In Portaferry, Artz Yard is a lovely, bright, new space in a very central position at Unit 10b, Brewery Yard.
They are, "dedicated to showcasing original Irish art, both contemporary and traditional", and it is their ambition to hold four large group exhibitions a year with smaller group and one-person shows in between.
They want to concentrate on "work by established artists from the area and further afield" but will also be showing pieces by artists who are just emerging on the Irish scene.
This, the Easter Show, I assume is the first of the 'big four' this year and amongst the artists are well known names like Sandra Maze, Jim Manley, Les Jones, Jack Pakenham and Anne Anderson.
There's a very nice mixture here, everything from the imaginative monochromatic etchings of James Millar to the big, bold, blustering flower studies by Lesley Rainey, or Anne Anderson's instantly recognisable, stylised, relief prints of familiar places on the Peninsula.
If bright primary colours appeal then Bangor Bunting by Barbra Craig is definitely for you — almost abstract looking in its active vigour.
In complete contrast there are the delicately coloured soft skies and seas by Joyce Brown, achieved with a technique I haven't seen her use before — silk with resist or Rosie McClelland's boldly executed Golden Apples.
The show continues until April 26 so there's plenty of time to enjoy the spectacular drive down the coast, have a coffee and browse around the exhibition.
Somewhere else that looks well worth browsing around, although I haven't been myself yet, is Benburb on the Blackwater.
The Manor House itself was built in the 1880s and since 1947 it has been used, with great success, as a priory and conference centre.
In 2004, potter Stephen Farnan, together with Father Raymond, set about restoring the Priory Cottages, which now house a thriving and varied craft community and I gather there are ambitious plans for its future development.
I intend to pay a visit in the next few weeks and will be sure to report back on what I find.