Beara Arts Festival has its roots in the first Artists in Beara exhibition, which ran at Beara Community School in Castletownbere in 1992. That event featured work by twenty-five artists living in, or associated with, the Beara peninsula. Among them were Tim Goulding, Cormac Boydell, Rachel Parry, Danny Osborne, Charles Tyrrell, Sarah Walker, Mick Mulcahy, Louis le Brocquy and Anne Madden.
Beara Arts Festival was launched the following year, again with an Artists in Beara group exhibition at its heart. The festival became an annual event, running until 2004. In that time, it featured numerous art exhibitions and installations, artists’ talks, literary workshops and readings, as well as musical and theatrical performances. The festival also published two collections of work by Beara poets with illustrations by local artists; Maidin i mBéara and The Colours of the Wind.
John Kingerlee, a longtime resident in Beara, was among the artists featured in every Artists in Beara group exhibition from 1992, and Beara Arts Festival also hosted a solo exhibition of his work in 1995. Kingerlee celebrated his eightieth birthday in February 2016, and it seemed entirely appropriate that the revived Beara Arts Festival should centre on the largest exhibition of his work ever mounted in Ireland. Kingerlee’s practice was the subject of a public seminar at Beara Community School on July 23, and the retrospective, Beyond the Beyonds, opened at the same venue on July 24 and ran until August 5.
Beara Arts Festival 2016 also featured a wealth of local literary, musical and artistic talent, with talks, readings, workshops and performances in venues such as Beara Community School, Castletownbere Library and the Sarah Walker Gallery on the Pier, Castletownbere. The festival’s Sonic Boxes project, featuring the work of local electronic music artists, included Compartments, a collaboration between poet Annette Skade and her son, composer Cormac Mac an Fhalla, that was broadcast on the Dursey Island cable-car for eight days. Other recordings, by David Harmax and Ian Geraghty, were housed in metal boxes at the Allihies Mines, Dunboy, the Glebe Graveyard outside Castletownbere and Glenbeg Lake outside Ardgroom.
Beara Arts Festival 2016 was supported by the Arts Office of Cork County Council and Castletownbere Development Association.
Beara Arts Festival 2016 at a glanceJuly 23-August 7 | Island–Oileán | Sarah Walker Gallery | Exhibitions
Saturday July 23, 11.30am-2.30pm | Public Seminar: An exploration of John Kingerlee's work as an artist | Beara Community School | Talks
July 24-August 5 | John Kingerlee | Beyond the Beyonds: A Retrospective (1962-2016) | Beara Community School | Exhibitions
Wednessday July 27, 1pm | John Eagle: Beara from the Air | Beara Community School | Talks
Friday July 29, 7pm | Leanne O'Sullivan | Castletownbere Library | Readings
Saturday July 30, 11am-1pm & 2-4pm | Annette Skade | Poetry Workshop for Adults | Castletownbere Library | Workshops
Saturday July 30, 2pm | Island – Oileán Artists’ Talk | Sarah Walker Gallery on the Pier, Castletownbere | Talks
Saturday July 30, 9pm | Ana Gog | Sarah Walker Gallery | Music
Sunday July 31, 2pm | Annette Skade | Castletownbere Library | Readings
Sunday July 31 - August 5, | Sonic Boxes | Beara Peninsula | Sonic Boxes
Tuesday August 2, 1pm | Bénédicte Coleman | Beara Community School | Talks
Wednesday August 3, 1pm | John Dwyer: Self-publishing Workshop | Beara Community School | Workshops
Thursday August 4, 1-3pm | David Harmax: Music Composition for Film | Beara Community School | Workshops