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Art for wellbeing is in the spotlight at new HAC exhibition

Posted on 10 May 2024

The Harbour Arts Centre – North Ayrshire’s Art and Culture Hub – launches its latest Main Galleries exhibition this week.

Taking place at the Harbour Arts Centre from Thursday, May 9, the ‘Outwith’ exhibition features a showcase of work by Brian Craig, Laura Stevenson and Kevin O’Rourke.

‘Outwith’ takes its inspiration from the Scottish word meaning ‘outside or beyond’.

The works on display will reflect the times during Covid when everything was in lockdown and the outdoors became more essential than ever for our health and wellbeing, providing for many a welcome relief or escape as we reconnected with places we usually never found time for.

One of the artist's Kevin O’Rourke is no stranger to the HAC, as when he’s not unleashing his creativity, he’s the venue’s friendly caretaker.

He shares: “I’ve been the caretaker at the Harbour Arts Centre for around five years now, before I joined the team at the HAC, I was in Eglinton Country Park.

“The HAC really is an iconic local venue. In my opinion there’s nowhere else quite like it nearby where artists, writers, musicians and actors can all come together.

“I’ve always been an artist, and as a single parent I need a steady income, working here at the Harbour Arts Centre is the best of both worlds.

“From Glasgow, Covent Garden in London, France, Switzerland and Guernsey, my work has been all over. But during the pandemic, when galleries closed and we were focused on staying safe at home, we had to look beyond our wider inspirations and look inward, while all creating closer to home.

“This is my third collaborative exhibition in the Main Galleries and it’s great to have the opportunity alongside Brian and Laura to showcase the work we created during the pandemic.

“Covid completely changed my approach and style. I think I’m experimenting more trying more mediums but mostly I turned to landscapes which I hadn’t really explored before.

“The lockdowns definitely made me appreciate our own landscapes here in North Ayrshire as we really are lucky. Hopefully the work I have on display will encourage visitors to also explore more of our amazing coastline and locations too.”

Featuring art in a variety of mediums from paintings to glass and photography, the exhibition has something for everyone.

This exhibition also takes place during this year's Mental Health Awareness Week (13 -19 May) which is encouraging residents to explore local venues and North Ayrshire’s wealth of vibrant, outdoor spaces.

It is also hoped that the artworks will encourage visitors to take some time to gaze and practice mindfulness while reconnecting with their surroundings.

Open during HAC standard opening hours* until Saturday, June 29, the exhibition near Irvine Harbourside, has FREE entry.

An accessible venue, the HAC also has an adjacent café (Duncans) next door, car parking nearby and toilets inside.

*The HAC’s standard opening times as follows:

Wednesday – 9:30am to 4:30pm
Thursday – 9:30am to 4:30pm
Friday – 9:30am to 5pm
Saturday – 9:00am to 4:30pm

Find out more about what is happening at the HAC online on the HAC website, via Facebook @HarbourArtsCentre and X @HAC Irvine (formerly Twitter)

More about the other artists…

Artist Laura has used her medium of stained glass art as a form of escapism. She said: "I have been lucky enough to further develop my glass art skills via the North Ayrshire Recovery College after working with them during my recovery from a long-term mental health condition.

"Now, I work with them to teach others too and I really feel so fortunate to be in a position to now be displaying my work at the HAC for the first time. It's all really exciting. I've actually incorporated some framed mirrors in my contribution to Outwith created by the students themselves.

"I am inspired by the lifecycles of nature. Leaves and woodland are prominent in my work and some personal pieces are in there too, paying homage to the strong women in my life who have been there for me. 

"I'd like to shatter the illusion that stained glass is all about just church windows - it's about strength and fragility. It has its own unique reflections and compositions and I hope that people can use my pieces to lose themselves for a little while to reflect on themselves and their own lives."

And back with his third collaborative exhibition, Irvine-based, HAC regular Brian Craig is excited to debut his latest works. He shares: “Thanks once again to the Arts Team for having me alongside the talented Laura and Kevin.

“The pandemic really did force us to look closer to home for inspiration. Although it was a harrowing and difficult time for so many, I would say that the restrictions did bring with them some advantages. Mainly, that we learned to appreciate the beauty and intrigue of the interesting landscapes we have here in North Ayrshire.

“My contributions to Outwith feature a combination of both urban photography and atmospheric paintings inspired by some of my favourite coastal locations such as Ardrossan Harbour and Irvine Beach.

“For me, photography in particular is a welcoming escape from the real world and allows me to look at my surroundings in a different way.

“I hope that those visiting the exhibition can use the interesting works on display as a moment in time to take a pause where they can reflect on the pandemic and hopefully be encouraged to look closer to home for artistic and creative inspiration too.”