Dazzling otherworld creativity at the Dunamaise Arts Centre in Portlaoise

Stan  Henderson


Stan Henderson



surreal gothic culture night portlaoise

A Painted Otherworld and on Culture Night. Picture: Stan Henderson

The otherworld was explored at a wonderful surreal artistic show at the Dunamaise Arts Centre recently.

The three-hour show was titled A Painted Otherworld and on Culture Night. Apart from live art the event featured paintings by Laois artists Rebecca Deegan, Donna Kearns, Kevin McCann, Eoin Meehan and Pat Byrne as well as Ian Keaveny from Blueball in Offaly and Sarah Keenan from Galway. 

The event was officially opened by venue director Michelle de Forge. She thanked Rebecca Deegan, who is the Dunamaise Artist in Residence, for curating the show.    

“When you walk in here tonight you are indeed walking into another world. There is a feeling of folklore and gothic here this evening bringing a sense of great life to the Dunamaise Arts Centre. These wonderful artists invite you all in to explore their otherworld carefully,” she said.

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The night featured an intense, energetic and powerful live painting performance by Galway-based artist Sarah Keenan, also known as Sick Kitty. While painting, bongo-drum music played and she worked effortlessly displaying a huge array of emotions moving in time with the varied tempos of the music. She titled the work, completed in 20 minutes,Understanding Grief.

Valkyrie Von Storm, a Dublin-based performer, performed an enchanting and mesmerising dance while wearing a black cloak. The dance was in homage to the ancient goddess from Irish mythology, the Morrigan. Translated, the Morrigan means Phantom Queen and the mythological goddess was associated with war, destiny, fate and death.

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Gothic band Sugarplum Suicide closed the eerie and mysterious night. Enchanting singer Cerridwen Dunne from Mountmellick and guitarists Colin Kelly and Eddy Kane performed several of their own songs for the appreciative crowd.

Rebecca Deegan said she looked forward to curating the event.

“This was my first time to curate a group exhibition and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while. The idea for A Painted Otherworld was born out of my love for dark and surreal art. It was my pleasure to work with these amazing artists and to bring their work into the public eye.

“The paintings are by artists who I really admire. Some are close long-term friends while others have become my friends through this exhibition. I really appreciate everything they’ve brought to the show and for all the help and encouragement they’ve given me during the lead up to tonight.

"There is a huge audience for lowbrow, fantasy and gothic art. It’s just a matter of making the art accessible to people. This exhibition is also a great opportunity to expose the general public to different styles and genres that maybe they weren’t familiar with before. I and the other artists are so grateful to the Dunamaise Arts Centre for their support towards alternative arts.

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"I’m really happy with how the exhibition came together. I think that the live performances added another layer of depth to the show. There are so many talented, interesting and unusual performers and musicians in our country. However, there’s no real platform in Laois for live art, dance and burlesque but this is something that I want to change.

"I wish to thank everyone who came to the event and supported us and our art. I hope to continue working with other alternative artists, performers and musicians to create more shows like A Painted Otherworld. The show has received some really nice and encouraging feedback towards the artists and the performers.”

For those who wish to contact Ms Deegan about her art search for her Facebook page which is Rebecca Deegan-Artist or email her at rebeccadeeganartist@hotmail.com.