People’s gallery celebrates Gloria’s glories

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Some where painted on a small panel of a pergoda in a park in China is a Scottish scene.

Years ago when much-loved Tralee artist Gloria Young sketched her way there through Russia and Mongolia on the Trans Siberian Express, a group of young people decorating the new structure spotted her painting in their park and took her up scaffolding to add her own contribution from home.

And so on that patch of pergoda is a ‘wee tumbledown’ Scottish cottage, a pinetree and a lochan.

That was just one of the many endearing and entertaining stories shared by Gloria at a special ‘in conversation with’ event hosted at the Rockfield Centre to open a retrospective exhibition of her work spanning decades.

People who have ‘Glorias’ on their walls at home were invited to bring them back to form a people’s gallery as part of the exhibition. Organiser Breege Smyth said the offers came in fast and furious and could have filled the space twice over.

One after the other, more stories spilled out over the evening with Elspeth MacDonald gently teasing them out – and with a good deal of good-humoured audience participation.

What jumped out from the canvas was just how highly and closely held Gloria is in the hearts of the community. Each of her paintings has a story.

As a young art student, she was encouraged to use a man’s name to get her work accepted and hung in exhibitions – how times have changed.

Now in her 91st year and still teaching art, Gloria is an inspiration to many.  Just recently people have been striking up sporting poses in her front room on a Thursday so a group she runs can sketch them – croquet was the last session.

Questions to Gloria in the hot-seat revealed the strangest commission she ever received was for a couple of her neighbour’s outdoor motors propped up in his garage. The ever changing estuary near her home is a scene she never tired painting of and touchingly, her favourite piece of work was a portrait of her dear, late husband Derek.

Gloria’s exhibition ran until Sunday.

Proceeds from paintings sold at the event were in aid of Cancer Research UK. Their numbers added to the near 2,000 works of art she has sold since 1968 and kept recorded in a little black book. All the details are meticulously kept in the form of columns – the final column contains abbreviations, making a note of Gloria’s own take on her work F for fair, G for good and R for…Reasons we won’t be revealing, but folk lucky enough to spend the evening with Gloria last Thursday will understand well enough with a wink and a grin.