‘Eddie and Phil’ is part of the Pleased to Meet You collection.

Artist is leaving homelessness outside the frame

A new art exhibition featuring portraits of people staying at several of Cork Simon Community’s high support houses was launched on Leeside last night.

Called ‘Pleased to Meet You’, the collection by artist Marie Bryan will be in the Cork City Library on Grad Parade throughout June and will subsequently visit many of the city’s branch libraries each month to the end of February 2025. Created during summer 2023, each portrait captures the personality, interests and spirit of the subjects, leaving homelessness firmly outside the frame. Marie approached Cork Simon with her portrait idea early in 2023. She subsequently volunteered her time and creativity throughout the summer months.

Marie explained: “I had a great summer last year, meeting and painting the residents. I related to their being in difficult circumstances, coming myself from a major bereavement, the loss of my husband. It could be any of us.” The 12 narrative portraits are acrylic on canvas with a blend of textured elements that distinctly reflect something deeply meaningful to each of the subjects.

She said each of the subjects spent time telling their own stories: “They enthusiastically told me about the best in their lives.

“We found plenty of common ground, and I was excited and inspired to research, and to imagine their portraits into being.”

Cork Simon’s Paul Sheehan said: “Marie set out not to paint people experiencing homelessness; she set out to paint people and capture something of their spirit, a sense of who they are. The portraits are stunning.”

He thanked Cork City Library’s Senior Executive Librarian, Patricia Looney for hosting the exhibition describing it as the most fitting venue.

He said: “Many of the people we support are regular users of the library and are very much welcomed there.

“It’s their escape from the day-to-day misery of homelessness, a place to be emersed in other worlds and experiences.” Patricia Looney said: “We look forward to other creative collaborations with Cork Simon to meet their user’s needs.”

Marie Bryan, a native of Cork, has worked in the Central Statistics Office, and, in more recent years, as a full-time dairy farmer. She entered Level 5 Art in 2021 at Douglas Street Campus, completed Level 6 Art at Kinsale College, and is currently studying Fine Art at MTU Crawford.