Our Emerging Visual Artist in Residence Riley Waite has written a blog about the launch of his residency showcase exhibition at An Táin Arts Centre, read all about it below.

Month 2: From Dundalk’s Heart to My Solo Exhibition

August 20th, 2023

As my second month at An Táin Art Centre in Dundalk unfolded, life picked up speed, brimming with excitement and an unyielding drive to create. The countdown to my solo exhibition, once a distant goal, was now merely a week away, and the preparations were in full swing.

Recently, I woke up with a pesky head cold, probably a result of the stress tied to the upcoming exhibition.

One of the most fulfilling aspects of this residency has been connecting with fellow artists. We’ve formed a close-knit community that constantly fuels our creativity. Attending artist talks and sharing insights has been an endless source of inspiration. It’s worth noting that the artists at Bó Studios across the street and I have become fast friends, and I’ve also made a new friend at Creative Spark, Scarlett, who’s an absolute gem and the new Artist in Residence.

Every day has been a journey of artistic exploration. I’ve churned out a multitude of paintings, each with its own distinct story. Dundalk’s ever-changing landscapes, the vibrant tapestry of its life, and the subtle nuances of its people have all taken their place on my canvases. This creative process has been as much about self-discovery as it has been about capturing the essence of Dundalk.

Amid this whirlwind, I took a spontaneous trip to Dublin with some fellow artists from Bó Studios. The city’s vibrant art scene, galleries, and museums breathed new life into my work. The Hugh Lane Gallery and the National Gallery of Ireland were personal highlights. The archaeological museum was also surprisingly enlightening. It was filled with artifacts spanning thousands of years, from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age. I was particularly intrigued by the ‘bog bodies,’ Ireland’s unique version of mummies, so to speak. I even squeezed in a day trip to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher, as well as a trip to Edinburgh, all of which provided ample inspiration for future paintings.

However, the core of my journey remained firmly in Dundalk. The studio at An Táin Art Centre became my sanctuary, a place where I invested countless hours into each piece. My strategy was simple: outsmart “artist’s block” by painting ferociously every day, not obsessing over whether each creation would be a masterpiece, but focusing on the practice and repetition of sitting before a canvas and moving paint.

The culmination of this incredible journey was fast approaching. My solo exhibition, once a distant dream, was now a tangible reality on the horizon. The sheer amount of work invested was substantial, but the joy of witnessing my art come to life on the gallery walls was immeasurable. I’ve already started curating the show, installing wire hangers on each canvas, arranging them on the walls, and fine-tuning the lighting. As expected, the final details consumed more time than anticipated, and with only a week left, I’m burning the midnight oil to complete the final two paintings. Additionally, I’m putting in the effort to promote the show on social media and recently took over An Táin’s Instagram account.

As I prepare to unveil my creations to the world, I’m overflowing with gratitude for the experiences and friendships this residency has offered. Dundalk has breathed new life into my art, and I can’t wait to share it with the warm and welcoming community that has embraced me. Here’s to a month of hard work, boundless creativity, and the beautiful culmination of this journey in the form of my solo exhibition.

August 31st, 2023

My opening was last night, and I’m thrilled with how everything unfolded. I spent the entire day nervously anticipating speaking in front of everyone, but Paul Hayes, the director, reassured me that everything would be fine, as everyone was there to support me. It turned out to be a fantastic turnout, with an overwhelmingly positive reception. I was immersed in conversations with enthusiastic attendees, all buzzing with excitement about the artwork. The talk went smoothly, and to my delight, I even managed to sell three paintings from the show, surpassing my initial goal of selling just one. I displayed a total of 13 paintings for the show, achieving all my personal goals. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to showcase my work at An Táin Art Centre, and now, with just a month left, all that’s left to do is keep painting!

Follow his progress at #antainartists and @rileywaiteart on Instagram.