One of the most unique exhibitions ever to be held in the Atrium Gallery at the Council’s Mullingar HQ opens this Thursday, 10 July, with Richie Clarke’s impressive wood carvings set to dominate the arts space for two weeks.
by Ronan Casey
‘Hidden in Wood’ will feature a wide variety of Richie’s one-of-a-kind woodwork, including his trademark life-size tree carvings of ancient Celtic figures. A wood carver for over 20 years, Richie’s work is primarily influenced by Celtic mythology and Irish folklore as well as fantasy literature such as Tolkien’s. A carpenter and cabinet maker by trade, wood carving was a natural progression for him and although self-taught he counts himself lucky to have had some tuition by master carver Chris Pye.
The exhibition is sure to draw in many to the atrium, and Clarke is no stranger to crowds. The talented Mullingar man has been wowing thousands on the festival scene for the last few years with live wooden carvings using handheld tools and the odd chainsaw, and his workshops at festivals such as Electric Picnic, Body & Soul and the National Ploughing Championships are must-attend events. His work has also wowed many tourists at Belvedere and Uisneach.
All of Richie’s work, from his immense 12-foot tree carvings to hand-held Sheela Na Gigs, signs, staffs and character carvings, is painstakingly hand-carved making each piece unique.
He says the exhibition – surprisingly, his first official one – “is a a bit nerve-wracking but exciting at the same time.” His eight feet tall ‘Sons of Tuireann’, a series of life-size figures carved from trees, will be the centrepiece of the show. Long in the making, this will be the first public viewing of them.
‘Hidden in Wood’ runs until 25 July, and the launch takes place this Thursday at 6:15pm. Artist/sculptor Gerry Waldron will officially open the exhibition, and Richie tells Topic he was delighted to have an artist of his stature involved.
For more on his work, see www.clarkewoodcarving.com.