Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Visual Art 18/09/09

On the trail of Strangford Lough

Since we seemed to be having a few days of ‘Indian Summer’ I thought it would be nice to combine business with pleasure and take a look at the latest exhibition in the Artz Yard gallery in Portaferry.

Founded by Zoe Mageean almost two years ago, the gallery is now in a lovely, bright, modern space at 11 Castle Yard, Castle Street, and is currently showing the work of local artist Sandra Maze.

The exhibition, which comprises more than 40 pieces of work, contains part of a series of works used to illustrate a new literary trail map for Strangford Lough that profiles the writers and writing of the area.

Sandra’s illustrations include the burial place of Louis MacNeice, Mary’s Stile, Killyleagh where Lady Dufferin’s meeting with Phelim O’Neill, who was leaving for America, inspired her to write The Lament of the Irish Immigrant, Nendrum Monastic Site, where some of the oldest existing texts mentioning Strangford Lough were written, and, of course, Portaferry itself. There’s more information on their website www.strangfordlough.org.

Sandra Maze has a nice confident, loose style, especially with watercolour, which is where, I feel, she best expresses herself. In contrast, her oils tend to be a bit muddy. It is difficult, though, to pull off a one person show with so much space to fill and, as in most shows like this, unless the artist is exceptionally versatile, it all becomes a bit repetitive.

Other works in the gallery include some lovely ceramics by Donald Nelson and Andrea McCullough, brooches by Barbra Cleland and two folders full of wonderful photographs by local man, the late Ernest Elliot. Don’t miss these if you visit the gallery and be sure to pick up the literary guide.

elizabethobaird@googlemail.com

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