A rich tapestry of Irish art has been unfurled at the Other Worlds exhibition at the Regional Culture Centre in Letterkenny.

The exhibition was curated by award-winning Gartan artist Daniel Nelis as he caps off a successful year as Early Career Curator in residence at the Regional Cultural Centre and Glebe House and Gallery.

With just two weeks to go until the wrap-up on February 3rd, Daniel invites everyone to delve into an exhibition packed with thought-proving art by Irish artists responding to nature.

The walls of Gallery 1 at the RCC speak of celebrating nature, fearing nature and highlighting mankind’s treatment of the living world.

The collection is free to visit and the works are accessible to all, prompting visitors to think about their own connections with their world.

It’s well worth a visit to get the unique opportunity to admire emerging artists from Donegal alongside artists of international acclaim such as Louis le Brocquy. 

Opening night of Other Worlds at the RCC in December. Photo: Charlie Joe Doherty

Local contributors include Charlie Scott from Falcarragh, Celina Muldoon from Ballyshannon, Cáit and Éimear McClay from Milford. These unique voices are positioned alongside works from the Arts Council of Ireland Collection, including Maria McKinney from Inishowen and some which haven’t been on public display in decades and some that hold extreme poignancy.

One of the most significant works is William McKeown’s ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’. The Tyrone painter died by suicide in 2011, aged 49. Other Worlds features the last existing rolls of McKeown’s hand-printed wallpaper for this piece. This conflicting and striking installation is a dramatic opener to the overall exhibit.

Daniel Nelis with William McKeown’s ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’

Daniel has incorporated such a range of styles, moods and media that there is something for everyone to connect with.

The feedback has been the highlight of the exhibition, he said. 

“What has been rewarding for me is the incredibly positive responses that seem to go across the range. Other Worlds is satisfying people interested in the contemporary work, art that pushes the boundaries as well as traditional practices,” Daniel tells DW.

Daniel didn’t set out to have “something for everybody”, but the artists naturally covered a multitude of perspectives. With works created between 1950 to 2023, the gallery is a journey through time and discovery.

“By virtue of that, you get a broad spectrum of what artistic responses have been like to nature over the decades and for that reason, I think there’s something for everybody to see and enjoy in the exhibition space,” Daniel said.

Photo: Charlie Joe Doherty

Leaving Cert art students have been engaging in workshops at Other Worlds since it opened in December. As an Art teacher at St. Eunan’s College, Daniel’s collaboration with the Donegal Teachers Association has introduced pupils to media and ideas they might never have seen before.

“It’s a wonderful thing to have young people coming in and responding to the exhibition and finding access points into works that they traditionally might not have gravitated towards,” Daniel said.

Students from Colaiste Ailigh visit Other Worlds. Photo: Charlie Joe Doherty

Featured artists are also encouraging the conversation at open talks, with Celina Muldoon hosting a session at the RCC on Saturday the 20th January at 3 p.m. and Charlie Scott hosting a talk on the 27th January at 3pm. All welcome, free admission.

Daniel’s residency has brought him unforgettable experiences, he says. It has given him the opportunity to work with emerging artists’ works and those of extreme national significance – all within a year of completing an MA in Art History, Collections & Curating at UCD.

“I would have been lost without the help of Jeremy Howard, Marty McIntyre, Paul Rooney and Cathal McGinley. Jeremy has always been a great anchor of support and Cathal was an incredible help in the two weeks when we were arranging the space,” he said.

“To think that we got to decide where we hang a Louis le Brocquy, for example, is part of the experience that will stay with me for the longest time.”

Daniel Nelis at the Other Worlds Exhibition in Gallery 1 of the Regional Cultural Centre

‘Garlanded Goat’ by Louis le Brocquy, 1950

Soon Daniel will be getting his own artist hat back on to refocus on his painting practice and exhibitions coming up nationally and in the UK. 

Jeremy Howard, Director of the Regional Cultural Centre said: “The RCC team has thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with Daniel over the past year. He has skilfully curated an outstanding exhibition that has become a standout attraction for visitors. 

“We are especially thrilled by the enthusiastic participation of secondary school students from across the county who have visited and produced their own inspired creations based on Other Worlds. 

“We anticipate welcoming many of these talented young individuals back to the RCC in the near future, and who knows, perhaps some may even return as professional artists!”

Visit Other Worlds is open daily at the Regional Cultural Centre Letterkenny until 3rd February. Free admission. For more information visit: https://regionalculturalcentre.com/exhibitions/other-worlds-gallery-1/

Supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, OPW Ireland and Donegal County Council.