Joint exhibition of paintings raising funds to help wounded Ukrainian soldiers

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*Grainne Moloney.

CLONLARA’s Grainne Moloney has teamed up with Ukrainian artist Yeni for a joint exhibition of paintings currently on display at the Clare Museum.

By Siomha Perill

“My interests are generally rural Ireland. I am inspired by the colors, the landscape, the people and the way of life,” Gráinne told The Clare Echo while discussing the exhibition which runs until November 11.

Gráinne grew up in Clonlara on a bustling farm where she spent her days creating. After completing primary school, Gráinne attended Laurel Hill Secondary School in Limerick. Here, it was a teacher, Ursula O’Meara, who suggested that she attend the Corporate College of Arts in Cork. “She was really supportive and encouraged me to pursue art after school.”

She graduated with first class honors and was invited to the Winchester School of Art in England, where she obtained her master’s degree. After graduating she returned to Cork where she taught art at Crosshaven Secondary School, then returned home to Clare where she has her own studio in Bridgetown. “For a few years, I was not able to do many works with a young family.”

As her children grew older, Gráinne found more time to immerse herself in art again. She currently teaches art to local primary school children after school and at camps she usually runs during the holidays. Three of his local art students have been shortlisted for the Zurich Young Portrait Prize 2022, which takes place in November.

During the lockdown, Gráinne joined a Facebook group on how to take care of chickens in Ireland. It was there that she came across the most beautiful photograph of a young girl, Kayla, holding her hen. “Immediately I wanted to paint it”.

Having previously mainly focused on contemporary art, this was a new challenge. So she started and Gráinne continued until she finished painting. Upon completion, Gráinne entered the Zurich Portrait Prize Competition, something in which she had no prior experience. Gráinne tracked down Kayla’s family and received permission to participate in the work. “She said I could and wished me luck.”

About two months later, Gráinne received a letter stating that “Girl with Hen” had been selected for the Zurich Portrait Prize. The painting remained at the National Gallery in Dublin for nine months before being transferred to the Crawford Gallery. “It was the full loop for me. I used to spend my whole twenties hanging around here, looking at all the paintings. I knew the place like the back of my hand, so it was a real honor for me to have my painting in the Crawford Gallery”.

Following the Zurich Portrait Prize, Gráinne wanted to exhibit his work in his native region. She contacted the Arts Office and was offered a place, paired with Yeni, from Ukraine. “It seems like a very good couple. I can’t wait to meet her one day and meet Kayla.

Her love for painting grew within her. Everyone in his family has always worked with their hands, as most people in rural farming families do. “It’s tradition, whether it’s making clothes or building. In rural Ireland people tend to use their hands. I guess by building cubby houses between us at home or just drawing on the back of the cornflake box.

Ideally, Gráinne would like his painting to remain in Clare. “Guess I just wanted people in Clare who couldn’t get to Dublin or Cork who wanted to see it to show them.” She also revealed that the painting was displayed for a day at the East Clare Agricultural Show held in Bridgetown, the village where she is raising her family with her husband. They displayed it in their tents for the community and local people in July. “It’s the story of painting. The painting has finished its tour now”.

Yeni was born and raised in a small town. From an early age, she began to draw portraits of classmates, design posters, and engage in all kinds of school art. She has participated in numerous art competitions and design courses, teleconferences and has written, both on walls and on canvas.

Yeni is mainly inspired by nature, the world of animals, children’s cartoon characters, the love between mother and children, and she also likes to depict a family idyll on her canvases. For her work, she has received numerous awards and been featured in local newspapers. She studied at the Moscow University of Arts.

In 2009 she organized an exhibition in Kyiv. His paintings have been purchased by clients from Croatia, Taiwan, Ukraine and the United States. Yeni’s works can be found in the offices of Ukrainian politicians, collections of Taiwanese entrepreneurs and local NCKU professors, private homes of art lovers, restaurants and some Irish families.

Yeni says “it is a great pleasure to take part in art exhibitions here in Ireland” and she invites everyone to come and see her wonderful exhibition at the Clare Museum.

The joint exhibition of paintings by Gráinne and Yeni is currently on view at the Clare Museum, Ennis. This exhibition is visible until November 11, 2022. All funds raised will be donated to Ukraine, to help treat and support injured soldiers.

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