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This Monkstown home is a serene dream, yet still perfectly suited to the demands of family life
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Art in the Gardens: a weekend of painting in nature in Waterford

Art in the Gardens: a weekend of painting in nature in Waterford


by Marlene Wessels
17th Jun 2024

Combining a wonderful weekend away with the chance to paint in beautiful surroundings was the perfect relaxing trip.

It was a glorious spring day when a friend who always wanted to try her hand at art, and I, who has dipped in and out of art through the years arrived in Mount Congreve Gardens, home to one of the largest private collections of plants in the world.

We were there for Artform’s inaugural Art in the Gardens, a three day event that included the chance to see artists at work, an exhibition, and the chance to paint and sketch in these beautiful surroundings. Around us artists of all ages gathered with their trolleys, bags and garden carts filled with easels and art materials, greeting and chatting like long lost friends.

We grabbed a coffee in the Stables Café and got lost in the gardens. We walked through the vast gardens of mammoth rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolia trees. It felt like a treasure hunt, spotting artists setting up or searching for the perfect vista to paint or sketch.

There were six guest artists, all experienced in their mediums, plein air painting in oils, watercolour and acrylics, and sketching in, pen, pencils and crayons and figure sketching. We stopped and chatted and watched and learned and felt so inspired! After lunch in the Stables Café, they held a pop-up exhibition on easels where artists could display and sell their work.

Exhausted but invigorated, we drove 20 minutes to The Strand Inn and had a chilled glass of wine on the packed terrace overlooking the sea, watching the beachgoers taking their last dip of the day.

We walked through the picturesque Dunmore East and enjoyed the stunning views along the cliff walk. Dinner was prawn linguine and fish and chips on the balcony, with an ice cold glass of bubbles soaking up the last sun rays of the day. It’s a family-run hotel with owner Edwina dropping in to the bar to make sure everyone is looked after.

I had one of the best night’s sleep on one of the most comfortable beds overlooking the sea. I slept with the balcony door open listening to the rising and falling of the waves, seagulls crying and feeling the gentle breeze while tucked into my bed.

After breakfast in the sun-filled dining room, it was back to Mount Congreve Gardens with our own bags filled with watercolour, brushes, ink pens and sketching pads for a day of sketching with Róisín Curé. After an introduction to her art we got immersed into our own masterpieces. We had a break at lunch and then nestled ourselves under the most beautiful canopy of magnolia trees studying the negative space and the relationships between objects. In only two days we got a glimpse into the close friendships and camaraderie of the plein air artists and were sad that the weekend came to an end.

This was not my first Artform workshop, but it was every bit as inspirational as the first time. It was a weekend of art, inspiration and practice in the most magical surroundings. Artform runs two to five day workshops with leading Irish artists throughout the year that cater for everyone from beginners to experienced artists in their stunning seaside studio in Dunmore East.

The Art in the Gardens “Bucolica” Open Call exhibition is open daily at the Gallery, Mount Congreve.

Marlene Wessels was a guest of Artform. Photography by Marlene Wessels.

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