Visitors to Northern Ireland this month should plan to visit Castle Espie in Co. Down where, in addition to the wild birds of the wetlands; a wonderful cafe (lasagne and chips/fries and no shortage of tray bakes); and a great shop, there is also an exhibition of pastels produced by members of the Pastel Society of Ireland.
My brother and sister and I are no strangers to this annual event for our father was one of the founding artists in the society. I think one or more of us has been to the exhibition every year since the society was founded in 1988, but we have not all been there all together. This year, my dad, a stalwart at taking in, selecting, and hanging pictures; and producing the posters and price lists was the only one who was missing. The society, and especially Kay Cullen and Catherine McKeever had arranged a tribute to my father as part of this year’s show. To them many thanks. We and a number of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandchildren, great nephews and others had a great day and were truly impressed by the standard of art on display. And of course it was lovely to hear fond words and genuine respect for my father.
Anne and Peter and I loved the work of Jo Peel, who had pictures of a bowl of mussels and of a string of fish that we all coveted. I also liked the landscapes Catherine was exhibiting, and those of Gregory Moore and Jim Manley.
It was Betty Christie’s Swan that made the front of this year’s poster. I love her painting of figs which was not exhibited. Someone, I think Millie Moore, had a fabulous picture of some rhubarb but it was already sold. Yes, I love paintings of food–or indeed any representation of food–but my limitations as an art critic should not put you off a visit if you prefer wildlife, or still life or abstracts or seascapes. All tastes are catered for.