Following the success of the recent art exhibition held at Horan’s Bar in Baltinglass, Wicklow artist Eamonn Heffernan was inspired to open a new art studio in the Glen of Imaal.

In collaboration with various local artists from the new Glen Arts Group, Eamonn will present both his bog oak sculptures and his paintings in a permanent exhibition which will officially open on October 16.

Eamonn is a highly experienced sculptor and painter who has exhibited internationally and sold his work to clients around the world. In January 2014 he held a solo exhibition comprising 18 pieces in Sydney, Australia, which was supported by the Wicklow Enterprise Board and the Irish Consulate in Sydney.

Eamonn has also exhibited at ‘Art Source’ at RDS Dublin, the Dunlavin Art Festival and the Glencree Reconciliation Centre, is a former chairman of West Wicklow arts group ‘Cruthu’ and he had a studio at Russborough House for over 10 years.

Born in Dublin, Eamonn moved to London at an early age. He returned to Wicklow, where he had spent much of his childhood holidays, in the year 2000 and rebuilt an old cottage in the Glen of Imaal.

“It’s always been there, but my love for art really started to develop properly in school,” Eamonn said. “I continued my training at Croydon College, London, where I mainly studied architecture and design.

“I always wanted to go back to Ireland. One of the big benefits of working here was that I would have the space and space to practice my craft, which you don’t really get in London. It was a huge driver behind the move.

Since returning to Wicklow over ten years ago, Eamon has worked primarily with the special material of bog oak. As he explained, the process of transforming ancient material into art is a long but rewarding process.

“I’ve worked with bog oak for about 30 years,” Eamonn said. “I have collected many pieces over the years. Some are larger than others and have more commercial value. While others are smaller and are the type of piece you would see in a residential setting.

“Each piece is unique, individual and dates back to around 2500-3000 BC. It really is a magical material to work with.

Eamonn’s process begins with the hour-long journey to the famous Allen Marshes at Rathangan, Kildare, where he pulls out a trailer of bog oak. On average, half of Eamonn’s transport is usable, which he stacks in his shed to dry out in three years.

After that time, Eamonn carves, cleans and oils the piece over the course of another year. In total, the long process takes about five years, before Eamonn finally begins to carve. As Eamonn joked, “It’s not a quick process.”

The other artists involved in Eamonn’s new studio all live and work in the area surrounding the Glen of Imaal and have been meeting for ten years at the ‘Crafty Craic Craft Shop’ in Knockanarrigan. The group shares their art there and criticizes the work of the other, so that the synergy between them has been established for a long time.

Each exhibiting artist is individual and their style is so personalized that no two works are identical. The end result, as Eamonn beamed, will be a “permanent studio exhibition that showcases an interesting and wide selection of art for years to come.”

Exhibiting artists will include local painter Maura O Hallaran, who has exhibited her paintings throughout Ireland and sells her art worldwide. Other exhibitors will include emerging painters Michael Cummins and John Kavanagh. Judy Heffernan, a local jeweler and photographer, also shares studio space.

Eamonn’s new studio at Ballineddan Lower, Knockanarrigan, Dunlavin, Co Wicklow (W91 P653), opens to the public on October 16, between 11am and 5pm. After opening, visits will be by appointment only.

Please telephone Eamonn on 0872299595 or email: [email protected] to arrange an appointment to view the process of making the unique sculptural pieces, as well as the display of completed works.

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