As I write a group of 16 intrepid painting and mosaic enthusiasts are making their way across the Atlantic for the creative adventure of a lifetime in Lovely Listowel! The current Artists in Residence Jean Cauthen, Laura Hitchcock and Pam Goode have put together a wonderful schedule for the students, workshops include plein air painting and ‘Flowers of the Wild Atlantic Way’ Mosaic. The seed for the tour was sown during the artist’s first residency at Olive Stack Gallery last year. Cannot wait to welcome everyone to Listowel!
One thing is for certain, the Olive Stack residency artists LOVE their time in Listowel! Says “second-timer” Jean Cauthen, “Having a month to settle in and work allows artists to get a sense of the ‘rhythms’ of this lovely town. Inspiration comes from the friendships, the theater, the poetry and the lively shop exteriors. As return resident artists, we felt more of a ‘home-coming’ on this return visit. We thrill to visit our favourite shops and delight in the new ones. Walking into our favourite pub and being greeted by a warm embrace along with our pint really tops off the day.”
For Laura McRae Hitchcock, the Olive Stack artist residency has been a career changer. “When I came to Listowel last year, I hadn’t been out of the US since high school. I embraced my empty nest status and decided to take some time to concentrate on my work completely. The residency provided that time and space. It changed how my family sees me, my career as an artist, and most importantly it changed the way I see myself. And when it’s all said and done, that is the game changer.
When I returned this year, I immediately felt at home — as if only a couple of months had passed. I love seeing people I know everywhere I go. I think I know more people here in Listowel than I do in Charleston! Last year, Jean, Pam and I saw so many visitors come into the gallery off of tour buses with no idea where they were or where they had been. We were struck by the difference in their experience of Ireland and the experience we were having in Listowel getting to know both the town and the people. We couldn’t let go of the idea that we wanted others to experience Ireland, and more specifically, Listowel, as we did.
So here we are, one year later, conducting a painting and mosaic workshop for 16 Americans from six states! We’re thrilled to have our vision come together so quickly. We’ll be concentrating our time here in Listowel so that the ladies in the workshop can experience the Ireland we fell in love with.”
Pam Goode, mosaic artist and owner of Mosaic Art Retreats, has taken artist groups to Paris, Provence, Barcelona, Morocco, Italy and Costa Rica. “I can tell you the name of the best tour guide in Barcelona or my favourite lunch spot in Paris, but I can’t introduce you to a single resident in most of those cities. In Listowel, I can match a student’s interests to a local, forging bonds across continents and enriching the experience tremendously. What I’ve found in Listowel is a rare breed of human being that truly embraces personal interaction. To be honest, in many cities it’s something I’ve become a bit wary of. But in Listowel it feels like every chance meeting warms the heart and strengthens the soul. We all need more of that, and it’s a trait I hope to take home with me.”
Plein-Air painter Jean Cauthen explains, “Although I’ve led many workshops to different countries, I’m especially excited to introduce students to Listowel. Our painting and mosaic students will be enchanted by the beautiful Irish scenery with extremes of cliffs to beaches to lush fields. But I think, more importantly, we’ve designed a program that allows students to feel like they’re part of the fabric of this lovely town. Local businesses and individuals are involved in the 10-day visit, and we’re picturing participants as they settle into a local bakery or pub and have chats with the locals. Like ourselves, we know they’ll remember these connections long after the week is over.”
The Irish at Heart Artisan Tour and Workshop will spend a couple of days exploring the Wild Atlantic Way and the rest of their time in Listowel. On the agenda is an encaustic demonstration and studio tour with Olive Stack, a cooking class with David Mulvihill, and Pub Theater at John B Keanes. Tours with Damian Stack will also be available, as will evenings at St. John’s. The group will have time to enjoy shopping and eating locally between their mosaic and plein air painting classes, as well as participating in a Get to Know Listowel scavenger hunt that will take them to a range of local businesses. The adventure will culminate with an artists reception at the gallery on Friday 26th May 4 – 5.30pm everyone is welcome to attend!