If you are looking for something to do next Sunday (26th of March) with your kids, I thoroughly recommend a visit to the delightful exhibition at the LexIcon library in Dun Laoghaire: A World of Colour: The Art of Beatrice Alemagna and Chris Haughton. The artwork on display will appeal to adults and children alike.
The exhibition indirectly raises the question: is this decorative art, or is this art, tout court? If we include in the definition of art a distinctively original way of portraying reality, a way that provides not only aesthetic gratification but makes you stop and wonder, then many of these artworks may well fit this purer category.
With their utterly different – in fact quite opposite – styles, Beatrice Alemagna and Chris Haughton have published several award winning illustrated books. Where Haughton’s work is characterised by block colours and a sophisticated naivety, Alemagna’s one, in contrast, is marked by meticulousness of detail and a special instance of magic realism. One example for all, from one of Beatrice Alemagna’s books: look at the way the buildings and shops of Paris are portrayed in “The wonderful fluffy little squishy”: the children will delight in all the colourful images, while the adults who’ve seen Paris will be catapulted back there (and long for another visit!) by virtue of an imaginative reinvention of reality, by the dreaming yet powerful capturing of the beauty and uniqueness of that city. One thing is for sure: these are images that stand on their own and deserve to be lifted from the reductive label of “illustrations”.
The exhibition is on until the 31st of March. As part of the Mountain to Sea dlr Book Festival, on Sunday the 26th of March there will be free family tours of the exhibition at 2.00 pm and 2.30 pm, followed at 3.00 pm by a meeting with the two illustrators and book signing.
If you’ve never visited the LexIcon library in Dun Laoghaire, this is the perfect occasion and the library is an attraction in itself. With all the controversy that preceded and followed its construction, related to its cost and its architectural appropriateness in this heritage town, this is a beautiful and exemplary public space, where architecture and design blissfully serve the function of cultural hub and community aggregator. Look for the designer “Swan” chairs on the third floor (the same as the exhibition) and go up to the fourth floor for a wonderful view of Dun Laoghaire bay.
Recommended as well a stop at the Brambles library café downstairs. This is a very simple café (no jazz music in the background!), but the staff are lovely and the atmosphere very relaxed, making it ideal for families.