An Taoiseach Micheál Martin with Cork Opera House Chairman Tim Healy and Chief Executive Officer Eibhlín Gleeson next to the newly unveiled ‘Lady Opera’. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

A new lady in town

An alluringly beautiful lady has just arrived on Leeside and she can be found watching over the steps inside one of the city’s most iconic venues.

Created by local artist Oonagh Hurley, ‘Lady Opera’ is a large, acrylic on canvas work inspired by the physical configuration of Cork Opera House. The painting, which was unveiled recently by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, incorporates elements of the theatre into an imaginative and colourful female representation of the city’s beloved Opera House.

In describing her process, Ms Hurley said: “I wanted to merge constituent elements of the Opera House itself with the content and subject matter of the painting, where form and meaning meet halfway.”

She continued: “The shape of both the balcony and ground floor seating plans make for interesting adaptations. Using them in single or multiple layouts, I imagined a female character in costume, which could conceivably be found in opera, drama or pantomime. The shapes of the balcony and stalls lend themselves to designing the headdress, bodice and upper skirt of her costume. The red theatre curtain makes a wonderful skirt.”

This life size female figure in dramatic costume dress can be seen by patrons on entering and leaving a performance at the southern entrance of the auditorium.

The commission was funded through the Government’s Percentage for Arts Scheme, alongside a capital grant Cork Opera House received from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media in 2017.