Tuesday, February 16, 2021

A Mayo artist has been overwhelmed by the emotional response that her tribute to a Covid-19 frontline worker has elicited.

Mary Coen’s tribute to her friend Denise Gilroy is projected onto the walls of Athlone Castle as part of the 2021 national Herstory Lightshow event.

The striking artwork (pictured here) by Ballina artist Mary Coen got the royal treatment when it was projected on the walls of Athlone Castle as part of the recent national Herstory light show event.

Based in Rosserk, near Killala, Mary is a daughter of Kieran Coen and the late Dr Marana McLoughlin.

She studied visual art practice at Dublin’s Institute of Art, Design and Technology, and currently specialises in painting and photography.

The annual light show is a flagship event of the Herstory organisation, which aims to champion female role models and a more egalitarian education programme.

Traditionally held each St Brigid’s Day, the light show sees images of Irish heroines projected on landmark buildings.

When Mary heard that the 2021 event would include a Coronavirus Heroines category, she was inspired to create the striking image above of her friend, fellow Ballina woman Denise Gilroy, and her baby Saoirse.

Denise has shown incredible fortitude and pragmatism while nursing on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic in England.

Mary worked with ink and digital colouring to create the beautiful image.

She told the Western People that she has been surprised by the emotional feedback to the work which has  inspired her to explore this type of reaction to art further:

“I hadn’t expected it to resonate so much with frontline healthcare workers in particular,” Mary remarked.

“I’ve received a lot of very lovely, quite personal messages from nurses particularly that just highlights, for me, the stress they’re under and sadly how unseen and unsupported they feel right now.

“Truthfully I didn’t think that the little gesture I could make by way of art would have any impact but it seems to have touched people in a way I wasn’t expecting,” Mary remarked.

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