CELLISSIMO – Exhibition



… all the elements of the CELLISSIMO Exhibition presented in the charismatic space that is 126 Artist-run Gallery in St. Bridget’s Place, Galway.

… the Galway Cello, spotlighted on its stand in the far corner of the space, absent only when being played in CELLISSIMO Festival concerts.

… a film of Adrian Mantu playing Lamentatio by Giovanni Sollima projected large on the far wall, a wooden bench with two sets of headphones available for the viewer to hear and see.

… a line of 20 photographic portraits of the cellists of Galway, playing the Galway Cello, on the wall to your right.

… at the near end of that wall a screen showing Eamonn Dunne’s video documentary shorts, following the progress of Kuros Torkzadeh making the Galway Cello.

… at the entrance to the space a well-worn carpenter’s bench on which sits a lathe, wood shavings of various colours and examples of the paraphernalia involved in the creative process of designing and building the Galway Cello.

…  Lucy Railton’s Pinnevik, a track from her 2018 release Paradise 94, playing through the gallery sound system at intervals.

…….  but now the exhibition has gone on-line.

The Galway Cello is steeped in history with its direct descent from the 1710 Gore-Booth Stradivarius Cello but it is also brand new and will be played by cellists for many years to come. I have connected these two diverse aspects by highlighting contemporary composition and performance alongside a conversation in which Kuros Torkzadeh talks to Philip Fogarty about the lineage of the Galway Cello as well as the practice of musical instrument making which has been handed down through the generations. The character of the Galway Cello has been captured in atmospheric photographs by Anita Murphy.

Lucy Railton was to perform live at the126 exhibition in April 2020 in a co-production by Music for Galway and C.A.N.V.A.S. Instead, she has recorded a series of improvisations on solo cello in her Berlin studio which explore and transform the cello’s range and tonal properties.  Lucy’s work encapsulates the experimental nature of the contemporary cello player and composer. Her performance was commissioned especially for the CELLISSIMO Exhibition and Festival.

I had invited Yseult Cooper Stockdale to open the exhibition with a performance of The Book of Elegant Feelings by Kelly-Marie Murphy. When the festival was postponed, she received funding from the Arts Council to produce The Skies are Empty with Philip Fogarty. Together they devised a live online performance, from separate locations and using available equipment within the constraints of lockdown, to mark what should have been the opening day of the CELLISSIMO Exhibition on 17th April 2020 with Philip taking the sound from Yseult’s instrument and electronically feeding it through the Galway Cello. For me, this unique performance and interaction perfectly captures the strange, sad, yet transformative times we are living through.

Rob D’Eath         March 2021

The Galway Cello is sponsored by MJ Conroy