Beautiful Galway – A Balm For The Senses

The Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture programme looked exciting at the dawn of the year.

A rake of cultural events in one of Ireland’s best cities for partying and artistic endeavours.

No-one could have predicted their misfortune over storms and a global pandemic that restricts everyone and every thing.

Undaunted, the organisers pushed ahead with a digital presentation of an artwork that underlined the beauty of the west.

‘Savage Beauty’ an art experience created by Finnish light artist Kari Kola.

The artwork transforms Ireland’s Connemara mountains with colour and light in the largest site-specific light artwork ever created.

Initially planned as a public event from 14-17 March, in light of the restrictions in place in response to Covid-19, Galway 2020 made the artwork available as a special digital edition for everyone to enjoy.

Described as “a savage beauty” by Oscar Wilde, Connemara is rural Ireland at its most dramatic.

Kari Kola’s installation of 1,000 lights spread over a distance of 5 kilometres, transforming the mountains in a wash of vibrant pulsating colours.

Artist, Kari Kola said; “Since I can’t paint, I paint with light. I’m also interested in light beyond its artistic value. Everything on the planet is based on light. I’m working with scientific projects and new, futuristic techniques. With abstract light, there are as many stories as there are viewers. If I can choose, I always work with nature because that’s the best art that we have. I am very disappointed that the public exhibition of this work had to be cancelled, but I hope that this digital edition will show how we played with scale in Connemara and created something that people would not expect.”

Helen Marriage, Creative Director, Galway 2020 said; “I am so proud of Kari Kola and his brilliant team who have worked day and night for the past fortnight in some of the most challenging weather conditions to create this wonderful artwork. We’ve been really moved by how welcome the local community has made us during this time. Their support has been invaluable. While regrettably we have had to cancel the live exhibitions of Savage Beauty following government guidance on public gatherings due to Covid-19 virus, I’m thrilled that we are able to share this special digital edition so that as many people as possible are able to experience this extraordinary artwork.”

Kari Kola has directed over 2,000 projects in dramatic settings including the opening ceremony of the Year of Light on the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris (2015), and Stonehenge (2018).

Thanks to the organisers for supplying this fab video from the artist, but you get a sense even that doesn’t do the installation justice!