Naas restaurant becomes a ‘Melting Pot’ of culture

Kildare is a bit light on a few things. We don’t have an Olympic size swimming pool for instance, we’re short an underground metro system linking Celbridge to Athy and as yet we’ve no international opera house on the outskirts of Sallins.

Kildare is a bit light on a few things. We don’t have an Olympic size swimming pool for instance, we’re short an underground metro system linking Celbridge to Athy and as yet we’ve no international opera house on the outskirts of Sallins.

Still, we live in hope.

We’re also a bit short on venues to house some of the finest artistic talent in the county. And we do have plenty of talent. From artists, to designers, photographers and musicians we’re loaded with all kinds of beautifully talented folk who more often than not take all their skill and talent to the open arms of the bright lights of the city.

So seeing as we now have no GAA team to get behind why not get some of that talent together and celebrate ourselves and all the God-given wonder of Kildare. Well that was the idea of one resident Aine Geoghegan, about to enter her final year studying fashion design in Griffith College. She gathered together a group of 11 artists, sculptors, photographers and fashion designers and put on an exhibition in Ryan’s Food Company on Friday August 5. She had been looking for a way to promote local art for some time, speaking before the exhibition, she explained;

“I know loads of people who’ve just finished art courses or are in art courses and haven’t got a platform for their work so basically I called around and see who wanted to do it. I wanted to get a mix of people”, she reveals, “that’s why it’s called the Melting Pot because it’s all different creative mediums.”

Once the idea was is in place then local interest had to be garnered.

After all Dublin is not so far away and people can exhibit to their hearts content around there, what with the copious amounts of facilities and artists. That thought crossed Geoghegan’s mind too as she wondered if it would just be herself in the vast expanse of Ryans.

Turns out the interest was a bit overwhelming.

“I asked a few people and they asked their friends and they asked their friends and then I put it up on Facebook and got loads of interest from people I didn’t even know.”

In fact there was a bit too much interest and once the music on the night was sorted in the guise of Sive led by Naas local Sadhbh O’Sullivan it proved impossible to fit anyone else in. Then it was down to organising things.

This was the first exhibition that Geoghegan had put on and it gave herself and the other 10 young artists all around their early 20s a chance to sell their work while also hearing feedback from their peers and the public. It cannot be overstated just how much selling your first piece can mean to a young artist.

Geoghegan’s friend artist Sophie Longwill, who was also exhibiting pieces on the night and had already sold a number of pieces in previous exhibitions, takes up the point about the crucial need to display your work and sell your work.

“It’s a great confidence boost when people buy your stuff and you also never know who might see it and what commissions you might get afterwards.”

While the run-up to an event like this might be slightly stressful with most of Thursday given over to hanging the pieces, hoping everyone turns up and those that do don’t bring too much Geoghegan is confident that the exhibition will be the start of something rather than the end. She hopes that the group of young talent might come together to form their own artistic collective and find their own studio somewhere in Kildare

The problem for this is two-fold though and they’re both inter-connected, finding the finances to fund it is one and finding the right place to invest those finances is the other. While Arts Council funding or perhaps business sponsorship are possibilities - Kildare County Council Arts Office Lucina Russell opened the exhibition - Geoghegan lets her mind wander to the potential of such a place.

“You could have three artists in a studio and all of their work could be on display for a month and then you could switch it around and have someone else go in and then they could do a project based in that space. We could get people doing loads of different stuff.”

While that idea is quite far from bearing fruit, the basis is a sound one. Why shouldn’t there be a collective of creative people under the one roof inspiring and encouraging each other? For now though Geohegan is happy to look at putting on a few more shows around the time of the major college holidays, ie Christmas, Easter and Halloween and will take things from there.

Either way as her artistic colleague Longwill surmises we’re not short of talented folk in the area.

“There’s so many young artists and creative people around Naas and the Kildare area. It’s great having a big group of us together.”

FOR MORE PHOTOS FROM THE NIGHT, SEE THIS WEEK’S LEINSTER LEADER