EXHIBITION OF PHOTOGRAPHS
EXHIBITION OF PHOTOGRAPHS: “WESTERN WINGS: MOTHS AND BUTTERFLIES OF CONNEMARA” CONNEMARA NATIONAL PARK, LETTERFRACK, CO GALWAY
An exhibition opens this week in the Connemara National Park, Letterfrack, Co. Galway, opened on 8th June, and runs until 8th July, which will be of enormous interests to naturalists and lovers of art photography alike. Entitled “Western Wings”, the exhibition features photographs of a wide selection of the moths and butterflies that frequent West Connemara. These striking images are the work of Connemara-based photographer Heather Greer, who is well known in the area for her stunning photographs of Connemara land- and seascapes. Heather is also passionate about moths, and she believes that these little-known creatures deserve much better than the whack of a rolled-up newspaper. “You may think of butterflies as bright and colourful, while moths are brown and dull. As this exhibition shows, many moths in fact are highly coloured and beautiful; they deserve to be looked at and admired!” Moths display a wide variety of clever markings and colourings designed to fool predators, including the use of disguise (looking like their foodplants); cryptic patterns which serve to provide camouflage when at rest in the dappled light and shade among plants; and markings which spell out danger (such as bright red underwings) or which look like animals’ eyes or faces. The photographs include fine examples of these fascinating strategies, and the artist has also included information such as food plants, wingspans, and flight seasons, making this exhibition a very real and accessible glimpse into the often unnoticed natural world around us. Children and adults alike will find these images compelling – some beautiful, some mysterious and other-worldly, but all finely and sharply rendered and guaranteeing that the viewer will never look at moths in quite the same way again. Butterflies employ similar patterns of markings to aid survival, but the fact that butterflies are day-flying, whereas most – though by no means all! – moths fly in dusk or in full darkness, means that butterflies often seem to the observer to be brighter and more “beautiful”, more “friendly”. In reality, moths are frequently as colourful and bright as their butterfly cousins, but they are much more often overlooked. And their sizes and shapes – just take a hard look at the silhouettes of moths resting on the outside of your window, on a summer’s night when the room light is on and the night is dark outside, and you’ll be captivated by the variety and loveliness of what you see. The “Western Wings” exhibition includes over 80 striking photographic images – mostly of moths, but also of butterflies and some of the larvae of both (and, for comparison, some images of larvae of other insects such as ladybirds and sawflies, often not assumed by the layperson to have a larval stage at all). Heather says: “the subjects here are by no means rare or uncommon to see. Rather, they are all around us; it’s just that many of us just don’t notice that they’re there! What I would like to achieve through this exhibition is a raised awareness of both the beauty and the ecological value of butterflies and especially of moths” Heather continues, “Many of the migrant insects from the UK and Europe which may be found in the east of Ireland don’t make it as far as the more distant and harsher environment of Connemara. Still, to show all the moths and butterflies that even a casual observer might spot on a day’s outing – or even around the porch light – would require a very large space indeed! So this exhibition is not intended to be an exhaustive display of all of the moths and butterflies you might spot in Connemara. Instead, what the exhibition does is to present visitors with a sample, in the hope that they will leave with a heightened desire to open their eyes to the beauty that’s all around them in nature”. Heather Greer has held solo exhibitions in the Town Hall Theatre, Galway, during the Volvo Race stopover in 2010, and in Clifden as part of Arts Week, as well as local exhibitions of her land- and seascapes, and of her images of moths and butterflies. Her photographs have graced many publications, including the 2011 and 1012 Discover Ireland’s Guide to the West of Ireland; the new and sumptuous publication to be launched later in June, for sailors and the general public by the Irish Cruising Club, “Cruising Ireland”; the front cover illustration of an important new book on animal law (in press); to name but a few This exhibition is definitely not one to be missed, if you have any love either of nature or of photographic art! If you can’t make it to the exhibition, in the magical Connemara National Park in Letterfrack, Co Galway, you can always browse through some of her images on her website, http://www.ConnemaraCaptured.com. And you can see a wide selection of her images on her website showcasing the Aughrus Peninsula and the famous Omey Island – just 15 minutes drive to the north-west of Clifden – where the great majority of the photographs in this exhibition were taken (www.AughrusPeninsula.com).