Artists Choice features a single work by each of five established artists, each of whom was invited to select a further three works by a younger or less established artist.
Robert Ballagh is arguably the best known of the five. His oil on canvas, Volunteers, is a modest work by his standards — a snapshot of men in uniform bearing tri-colours and armed with hurleys.
One might question the wisdom of Ballagh choosing his daughter Rachel for inclusion in the show. But in truth her work is the strongest of the younger artists’. Cut Grass is a benign ball of stalks and blades, with delicate colouring in green and pink; Hedgehog is a hostile ball of prickles: while Claws features two fearsome sets of talons. Each of the pieces is beautifully rendered in mixed media.
Martin Gale also shows a modest work in oils. Floodland is typical of his oeuvre, an eerily realistic landscape, in this case showing a flooded field, in whose waters are reflected a stand of trees.
Gale’s choice of artist is Louise Neiland, whose most impressive work is also her largest, Of the Night. In the left hand corner, a figure slouches home behind a horse and sleigh, under a great glowering black and blue sky.
James English’s September Moon is a typically accomplished landscape, suffused with lunar light. His chosen artist is Michelle Considine, whose most impressive work is again her largest: Land Rift is a predominantly white work in polychromos on paper, depicting a great gash in the landscape.
Arthur Maderson’s St Laurent le Miner, Cevennes is the most conservative work in the exhibition, painted in the artist’s usual loose strokes. His selected artist is Maedhbh O’Donoghue, whose work is equally safe — the most playful is Lighthouse, which features a goldfish in a light-bulb.
Tom Climent is the sole abstract artist among the five. His work in oils, Auric, is a mostly harmonious composition which, as its title suggests, revolves around the colour gold. His selected artist is Hugh Delap, whose abstract works in oil on primed paper are pleasantly mischievous, not least in the striped motif that dominates Constructing.