LOCAL Ardee artists from the Rachael Thomas painting classes will be staging an exhibition of their current work during the Ardee Turfman Festival weekend Saturday 30 July to Monday 1 Aug 10am-7pm at McCabes (old premises) Castle Street Ardee.
There will also be an Arts and Crafts Kids Club on John’s Street Ardee, opposite the doctor’s surgery from 29 July to 1 August at 12 to 5pm.
Both events are free admission and everyone is welcome.
Last year, there were 170 works of art on show during the exhibition, covering one year’s work, by the students who attend Rachael’s classes every week throughout the year.
Paintings by some of the residents at St Joseph’s Hospital where Rachael gives classes were also exhibited.
Rachel Thomas is originally from Southamton in England. She moved to Ardee in 1992 and has been giving art classes for over 10 years.
Rachel started her classes at the Parish Centre in Ardee. Then she met Sr Catherine from the Mercy Convent who was setting up an active retirement group.
“We got talking and she invited me to teach classes at the convent bungalow. I also started a class in Stabannon,” said Rachel.
“Through the classes,” said Rachel, “I see the joy painting brings and how it also brings people together. That’s very rewarding.
“People come in and say I can’t paint or draw. But I don’t place an emphasis on anything, I just allow creativity to go its own way, to evolve without force. I say we are all artists.”
Rachael was the arts co-ordinator for Ardee when the Special Olympics were held in Ireland. During that time she visited schools, talked about the Special Olympics and invited the children to create their own art work.
That work was then exhibited and auctioned.
Rachel also gives art therapy classes at St Joseph’s in Ardee one day a week.
“This is very rewarding work and I’ve made many friends,” she said.