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Artist Michael Hanrahan with his watercolour paintings of the Algarve, one of which was auctioned to raise money for the Irish Red Cross.

Clare artists show true colours with support for Ukraine

CLARE’S artistic community have shown their true colours of generosity by finding various ways to support the people of Ukraine.

From selling artworks to raise funds for charities helping those affected by the war with Russia, to offering to give lessons to refugees who have found shelter in Clare, a number of local artists across the county have offered their support.

Among those is Lahinch-based artist Michael Hanrahan who recently auctioned off one of his paintings with funds raised going to the Red Cross to help the people of Ukraine.

He has also offered to provide water colour classes for Ukrainian refugees who have arrived in North Clare, believing the power of art may provide some kind of therapy for the new arrivals.

Michael, who travels the world teaching watercolour painting on cruise liners, painted a view of the Algarve in Portugal while visiting the country earlier this year.

He said that when news began to emerge of what was happening in Ukraine he was “horrified” and moved to do something to help.

He decided to put his painting of the Algarve up on Facebook to auction it off in aid of the Red Cross’s work with the Ukrainian people, and he was amazed with the response.

“I got it started with bidding of €75, then it went up and up and I couldn’t believe my eyes it went up to €400. Then Brendan Clancy from Tipperary bid €450 which was fantastic.

“I got it framed and he has the painting now and sent me the money for the donation which I have sent to the Red Cross.”

However, that isn’t all that Michael has been inspired to do.

“There are a lot of people from Ukraine who have arrived in Lisdoonvarna and they are bewildered; one minute they are living in their apartments or houses in Ukraine and the next thing they are arriving here.

“Many have arrived with very little, not even clothes, and local organisations have been helping them.

“I thought maybe I could do something to support them by teaching the children basic painting. I spoke with people working with the Ukrainian people in Lisdoonvarna and I realised that the children are OK because they have school everyday, but it is the parents who could do with some art therapy.

“When the children are in school they are the ones on the phone waiting for news from Ukraine.

“I’ve been professionally painting for 15 years and I have seen that if you have an issue or a problem and you’re sitting there with a piece of paper in front of you, you can lose yourself in the art and it can be a fantastic exercise. I’ve said I would be pleased to go and help with that once they are settled in and I’m hoping that I can do something with them.”

For more on Michael’s work check

Meanwhile, Ennis-based artist Rena Casey Lewis has been inspired by what has been happening in Ukraine to create a series of watercolours with funds raised from their sale going to the Red Cross.

She explains that the series of paintings are all based around images relevant to the war-torn country.

The first painting is of a sunflower, “a beloved symbol of Ukrainian national identity”.

“I read that a Ukrainian woman confronted Russian soldiers in Henychesk, Kherson region,” said Rena.

“She asked them why they came to her land and urges them to put sunflower seeds in their pockets so that flowers would grow when they die on the Ukrainian land,” Rena explains.

The second is a watercolour of Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine. 

“Zelensky has personified the Ukrainian spirit and grit that has seen the occupied nation withstand Russian waves of attack and even repel the enemy on certain fronts despite enduring endless bombardment and scant regard for civilian life.”

“Zelensky promised to end Ukraine’s conflict with Russia as part of his presidential campaign, and has attempted to engage in dialogue with the Russian president.

“Assassination attempts on him have been tried many times. Zelensky vowed that every inch of Ukraine would be defended and the country would never give in to Russian terms and that he would never flee.”

The final painting in aid of the Red Cross features red poppies.

“In the Ukraine Red poppies represent consolation, remembrance and death.

“Likewise, the poppy is a common symbol that has been used to represent everything from peace to death and even simply sleep.

“Since ancient times, poppies placed on tombstones represent eternal sleep,” Rena explained.

To view the paintings check

Also in Ennis, acclaimed artist Dympna Bonfield is hosting an art auction in the Old Ground Hotel this Thursday, April 14, at 8pm.

For many years she has contributed her artistic talent to the support of refugees most recently in Greece, and now here in Ireland for the plight of the Ukrainians.

All monies raised go directly to supporting the Ukrainian refugees in Ireland. Cultúrlann Sweeney, Kilkee will be the location for a screening by the Clare Arts Office of the Ukrainian Film Olga this Friday at 7.30pm with all proceeds going to the Ukrainian Relief Fund.

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