'Shelf Life!' is worth a browse.
Ramelton creative Laura Buchanan officially launched her first solo art exhibition last night, which weaves retro retail inspiration with modern prints and collages for a bright celebration of the past.
Shelf Life!, at the Regional Cultural Centre, is a fresh take on a grocery and hardware store in Ramelton which was owned by Laura’s family for three generations.
Known for her bright colours and prints, the artist has revived vintage packaging and old signs in her signature style to pay tribute to her family’s shopkeeping heritage.
Family, friends and art lovers were invited to step back into the 1900’s at the launch as they admired Laura’s work, which also highlights the legacy of iconic Donegal products such as Oatfield’s sweets, McDaid’s soft drinks and Milford Flour.
Through her own experience growing up in the former Buchanan’s store building, Laura has been inspired by the connection between shopkeepers and their customers.
“The show is magical, there is an incredible and vibrant mix of contemporary design, art-making and a beautiful rich heritage of times gone by,” said Sally Murphy, Laura’s mentor.
Buchanan’s was first opened in 1908 by Laura’s great-grandfather William and great-grandmother Annie. It was passed on to her grandfather Willie and grandmother, who was also called Annie, before Laura’s father Leslie and mum Doreen carried on the business.
The shop closed to the public in 1983 as the local retail landscape moved further towards supermarkets. Laura was born three years later. She grew up living in the former shop building, and while she never experienced the shop as a working space, she was deeply influenced by the history of her home.
Laura has put her own stamp on old family photographs and created a video which revisits the Ramelton Lennon Festival and stories from the shop floor. Guests from the Ramelton area recognised familiar faces in the media and one woman, Margaret Ramsay, was even wearing the same set of pearls which was featured in an old photo.
The authenticity and detail of the art pieces earned much praise at the launch event, while guests were encouraged to take away one key message: Shop locally, think globally.
Laura said: “Buchanan’s may be closed, but the ethos and meaning of that shop and indeed that era can live on in the choices we make as citizens and consumers today.”
The exhibition runs until 25th May at the Regional Cultural Centre, Port Road, Letterkenny.