Carmel Benson: How to be a Child? at Bray’s Mermaid!

Recently artist Carmel Benson’s art exhibition entitled, “How to be a Child?” ran at The Mermaid in Bray, Wicklow from the 18th of July to the 7th of September. I was lucky enough to get to see it in it’s duration. Me and my sister went to see it.

Benson is originally from Wexford but in 1999 the artist, who graduated from University College Dublin (UCD) and later majored in painting and printmaking in Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design, moved to Roundwood in Wicklow.

Benson’s latest pieces deal with a recurring theme in her work, that of childhood. This particular exhibition centres around the 1950s in Ireland when the “Catechism” was a vital book in Catholic childrens’ lives. A book that brought fear and oppression to the child if they were sensitive to it. There is also many male words in the collection which represent the inequality between men and women. In Benson’s collection these males are restraining the threatening women while Benson’s Sheela-na-Gig motif is her reaction to the world that shaped her. A world which was dominated by the Church and filled fear and remorse in its people. I love the concept of the collection but I found that the collection fell somewhere in-between. Some of I loved, like Crouching Sheelagh and my sis loved that one too, but there was others I wasn’t as crazy about.

But for it’s message and concept and in terms of pictures especially the Crouching Sheelagh it is an exhibition that needs to be seen so if you get a chance at some stage in the future somewhere else I would advise you to check it out! 🙂

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