Music on The Water is an exhibition in Galway City Museum of paintings by Artist Maurice Quillinan. Based in Kildare, Quillinan studied Art at Limerick and later the Royal College of Art. His work is held in private collections across the globe. I got lucky and stumbled on a site specific portrayal of his work at Galway Museum. His paintings that include huge canvases of blue with a small boat in silhouette apparently moving towards the viewer, are close to a large window that looks out onto the River Corrib.
In spite of the freezing weather young people are canoeing on the water. The sounds of their laughter and movement in the rapid flow hangs on the air.
The wall that separates the Museum from the waters edge is known as the Spanish Arch. Looking through the space in the wall frames the square where a thriving fish market once connected the life of the fishermen with the needs of the city.
In the distance a church stands firm and I read that the place of worship served the needs of the community especially in the light of the perils of the sea. This contrast of security and danger feels dramatic and close by stands a Theatre of global standing that tells the stories written by John Millington Synge (‘Riders to the Sea’) that famously painted the portrait of the hard working locals who took horses to market via treacherous sea with grave consequences.
Before I leave the three threads of the story that Galway has offered me, I decide the Art on display at the Museum tells old stories of this city but in a modern style. Impressionist music plays as a big fiery fish in a painting stairs back. In Quillinan’s series of ‘Julia’s Pond’ a purple still texture sits with green lily pads circling. The story is told of the water without compromise. Quillinan uses the colours that he needs and plays with our perception of reality. With oil placed on linen for ‘Reflet d’un l’eau’ earth’s crimson tones merge with a mossy light green texture. Spring is painted with a yellow that speaks of hope. The young people are still in their canoes on the water and their laughter sounds like song, it is music on the water. I look at Galway through a new light.
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