London Irish artist showcases work at Mayoral reception
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London Irish artist showcases work at Mayoral reception

LONDON Irish painter Bernard Canavan has presented a portfolio of work to the Lord Mayor of Cork to mark The Gathering.

During a Mayoral reception, Lord Mayor, Cllr. Catherine Clancy said the visit to City Hall was especially fitting because the artist’s wife Janet is originally from Bandon.

Longford native Bernard is well-known for his graphic depictions of the emigrant Irish.

He has been described as the artist of the London Irish.

“The paintings of Bernard Canavan serve to remind us that not all those who left Ireland were successful,” the Lord Mayor said.

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“The tragedy is that many are now living lonely and isolated lives and all they have are memories of an Ireland that no longer exits.”

Thanking the Lord Mayor for the City Hall meeting, Bernard said his paintings deal with Irish and emigrant life, in particular of the “make do” life of Irish people in Britain in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

“Anyone who looks at my work will see for themselves what I'm on about,” he said.

“We were told that we had a world created by ourselves, won by patriotic gunmen and maintained by dedicated holy men and women working in the schools, orphanages, hospitals and the ‘places of corrections’.

They were engaged in a perpetual war against the twin evils of sex and England. Everything we had was either God-ordained or the product of the gun.”

Bernard was one of the many unable to live in that Ireland.  Along with his father and 800,000 others he departed from Irish shores.

“My generation  sent back postal orders to maintain those of our loved ones who remained,” he said. “That is the world my art attempts to capture, the dying world of the Baroque.”

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When he first arrived in London as a young man Bernard Canavan used his talents to design posters for the Sugawn Theatre, the first Irish pub theatre in the British capital established by author J M O’Neill who wrote novels based on the lives of London Irish building workers.