All Dogs Go To Heaven- The Ambassador Theatre, Dublin- 1989.
Do you still remember your first trip to the cinema?
Was it in a Googolplexlike multi-screen monster or was it in a stylish, but old Art Deco building? Did crushed red velvet curtains squeak to the sides of the screen when the film was about to begin or were you looking into an immediate void? Did the film whirr from a projector or appear silently in front of you?
Ruth McDonnell’s current installation Glimpse at Draiocht Blanchardstown brought back sentimental memories of the old, disappearing cinemas of Dublin like The Ambassador, The Adelphi, the Savoy and the beleaguered Screen Cinema. Today the Ambassador still lives on as an exhibition space, and somehow the Savoy still screens blockbusters in its beautiful vast theatres.
But when you go to see a film, how close is the actual building to your thoughts? Do you include it in your entire cinematic experience? It’s a bit more difficult these days when they nearly all look the same.
McDonnell first gives us a picture of the pictures- so to speak- with sketches of simple recognisable shapes like an audience, steps and screens which she gives artistic merit. Done with mixed media, they have a childlike quality. Moving on to her prints the form becomes more evocative, delicate and emotional.
‘Here’s Looking at You’ is an etching of rows of empty old seats, backwashed a very pale red, but one seat is a vivid blood red, standing out and frankly nearly asking you to sit down in it and watch a classic. ‘Swish”’could be a ladies skirt…or maybe it’s an old curtain of a grand old dame of a theatre, with no audience to raise it for anymore. The ‘Dark Palace Series’ of oil panels reduces the former glory of the old cinemas of Ireland to geometric shapes and is very linear and refreshing.
Ruth McDonnell is a graduate of NCAD, Medway College of Design, IADT and DIT. This is her seventh solo exhibition.
Glimpse runs only until May 7th, so make sure to get out to Draiocht to catch more than a glimpse.