Undertow: Talking skulls and seascapes with Kilkenny artist Alan Raggett

Kilkenny artist Alan Raggett has swapped transporting and hanging shows to running his own.

Undertow, showing at Kilkenny Arts Office through December 2016 is Alan’s first return to public shows in nine years. With words from the late Patrick O’Connor and Jean Conroy respectively spurring him into action, the Arts Office in Kilkenny has been transformed by skulls and seascapes as part of this year’s Yulefest celebrations.

If you break it down, what we’re looking at are skulls and seascapes“, he says in describing the works to me for the show, the former going under a series of six paintings titled Memento Mori.

Memento Mori, art to help you medidate on death and become a better person – it’s nice and chirpy for a Friday.

It comes from ancient Rome, when a general would have come back having been successful in war and would be paraded around the streets of Rome. There would have been thousands and thousands of people cheering for him. Before this all happened, he hired a slave to walk around behind him and remind him ‘you are but a man, remember that you will die’. Memento Mori translates, basically, as ‘remember that you will die’ – you need to work to be a better person.

The reality of it, for me, is that there are two definite things in the world – one, you are born and one, you will die. It’s what you do in between is the biggest part.

Kilkenny artist Alan Raggett. Photo: Ken McGuire/
Kilkenny artist Alan Raggett. Photo: Ken McGuire/

Over the course of twenty minutes we talk about moments in his arts work that have brought him to Undertow, working from his studio near Dunmore East, skulls, seascapes, along with where the two meet up in a mounted piece dubbed Grey Lives Matter – and everything in between.

Take a listen to the full chat below, then call into the show to experience it for yourself.

Undertow continues at Kilkenny Arts Office, 5 Dean Street, Kilkenny across 9-11, 16-18 and 19-23 December.

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Ken McGuire

Broadcaster and sports writer at KCLR96FM; digital media head with a production eye on theatre, film and video; Read my Irish food blog, Ken On Food.

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