Culture Night!!

Culture Night was a whirlwind of activity! On the day we had to wait for the rain to clear before we could begin setting up all the artwork outside. In the meantime we prepared for all the various workshops planned for the day. Then we got lucky and the weather improved by about 12:30 and we began hanging artwork in preparation for the public arriving at 3pm.


The whole building and surroundings were decorated with art made by local community groups and the staff artists, and the staff themselves were also decocrated!


Once we opened to the public, we were over run for the rest of the day! Greg and Kaisa were kept busy doing face painting in the main gallery.


Out the front Sean had setup some beautiful mural drawings that children could then colour in, which they did enthusiastically!


Margaret and Ciaran had an installation down the side alley of a forest glade at night that the children could enter and dress up to pretend to be animals. There were stars and fairy lights and sounds to listen to.


I (James Hayes) was kept busy out the front doing a print workshop for children where we took prints off the metal plates set into the foot path.


Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos from the workshops down the back as once we opened to the public we were to busy to leave our station.

In the evening we had two events, starting with a singing workshop by Antonella Di Palo. This turned out to be so much more than I expected! She gave a historical background to the singing, and then led everyone in the dance steps that accompany the traditional song styles. Lots of fun!


Afterwards we had the Zoryanna Tribal Style Belly Dancers! They did a set of 5 dances, including an amazing sword routine. All the dances were of course very impressive with really creative choreography and enthusiasm.


Overall it was a very successful day that drew huge crowds starting at 3 and not dispersing until well after 9pm. Well done everyone!

James Hayes


Final furlong to Culture Night

It has been a very busy past few weeks as the staff at Signal prepare for Culture Night. One of the biggest challenges is finding places to store all the artwork that is being created! Quite a lot of it finds its way into the darkroom…


Today we took delivery of another beautiful piece by one of the local community groups involved (Rehab I am pretty sure), it will look great standing up outside the gallery!


Even the coat rack in the kitchen gets used for storage hahaha!


There is some space out on the “stage” in the backyard, but mostly that is a working space so finished work storage and artworks in progress are overlapping.


Hard to believe it is only a few days away! We will spend Friday morning setting everything up and then the event officially kicks off at 3pm. Drop in and see what we do here at Signal!

James Hayes

Creations in clay

The great thing about the ceramics class (I believe) is that once the basic building techniques are understood there is lots of room for creativity and imagination. Case in point, last week I showed my class (and Gill’s as I was covering for her while she is on holidays) how to build very organic vases using rolled slabs. They jumped on this idea and ran with it! I am always delighted and impressed with the broad range of work that can be created given the same set of instructions. They followed up my basic ideas by also rolling various textures, flowers and leaves into the clay.


Another bit of work that goes on in the background is reclaiming the many half full or almost empty bags of clay, putting like with like, and rejuvenating clay that has gone dry.


James Hayes

Ceramics, hard work and presentation.

The ceramics area of Signal Arts Centre is an ongoing project that many of the staff and the classes make the most of. Aside from the adult classes that Gill and I are running on Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons the room and facilities are also used by visiting youth groups (facilitated by Michelle Fullam and Greg Murray), the various art classes (kids art, Carmona, Rehab, Sunbeam and Purple House), and can be hired by individuals outside Signal. This means that there is a need for up-to-date stock of the materials (clays and glazes) and ongoing servicing of the equipment.

We like to think that the official face presented by Signal is the reality and that everything is smooth sailing, but to achieve that face takes a lot of hard work and not everything goes according to plan… When someone hires the kiln usually everything turns out fine, but on one recent occasion the glazes used did not agree with the kiln! The artist involved told us the temperature to fire to, but they must have got a detail wrong on the glaze spec sheet because the glazes ran and stuck the pots to the kiln shelves. This meant that the pots had to be chipped off the shelf and then I had to grind back the left over shards of ceramic and glaze.


Before anyone points out the obvious, yes this wouldn’t happen if the shelf had kiln wash on it. That is my next priority, as aside from this unprepared shelf, most of the other shelves need a fresh coating of kiln wash.

On a more positive note, with the recent visit of the Pride of Place judging panel we gave the ceramics room (and all of Signal) a good clean and I set up examples of student work to show the judges. I included examples from each stage of the process, from un-fired clay to bisque fired clay to the finished high fired and glazed pieces.


I took the opportunity to document how the backyard can look when it is all clean and organized.


A lot of people from the various community groups that Signal is involved with showed up for the Pride of Place judging panel, to show their support and to give testimonials.


I thought the Pride of Place day went very well and we have high hopes that we may win an award for Signal. Fingers crossed!

James Hayes

Chair-Up Buttercup!

Greetings from Signal Arts Centre! Staff Artist Emma Fitzgerald is here to take you on a blog post journey through her recent garden decor related exertions.

Consider the chair below. Consider the scratches, discoloration and stains which besmirch it’s once smart and functional appearance. This chair has seen better days but all is not lost; with some gloss paint and elbow grease the chair can attain visual glory once again…

besmirched by time

Yellow ducklings, fresh buttercups, a host of golden dandelions… the application of yellow gloss paint to the chair has succeeded in brightening it’s surface and its effect on my mood! When the main plastic bodies of the chairs are dry I will come back and gently sand-paper the legs and then paint the legs with gloss. There is a choice of blue and rose pink to paint the legs with. Please feel welcome to indicate your preference in the comment section below.

buttercup hello!

The chairs pictured below have had the complete make-over already, the colours are bitter chocolate on the plastic seat and spray can white on the legs. The red chair was painted using a spray can. Between using spray paint and gloss from a tin, I found that using a paintbrush and applying paint from a tin gave the best results in terms of time, cost and finished look.


bitter chocolate and passionate crimson

Watch out for the chairs next time you visit us at Signal Arts Centre!

best wishes and thanks for reading,


Pride of Place prep work

Signal Arts Centre has been nominated for the “Pride of Place” award, an all-island competition that acknowledges the work that communities are doing all over the island of Ireland. A group of judges will be visiting Signal in the next week or so, so we are getting various presentations ready to show them our work in the local community groups of Bray, as well as giving the place a good tidy! Today Margaret and Gill were busy rotating the display of the student artwork which showcases the work we do with local groups, children, people with special needs, and adults.


James Hayes

Sad news

Signal is not just a building, a gallery space or a place for art classes, it is also a collection of creative people and it is those people who make Signal so very special.  As such it is with a deep sadness that I inform you all of the sudden loss of Jim Morrison.  Jim was the foundation stone of Signal Arts Centre since it’s creation and inception in 1990.

Everyone here at Signal is a bit shell shocked by the news, and the phone has been ringing (I am sitting on gallery duty today and am answering those calls) from Jim’s friends calling, and people walking in to the gallery who end up sharing stories.

James Nolan, our digital media go-to man was looking for images of Jim in our archives and managed to capture this lovely photo from a video of the culture night 2016, which really captures Jim, his humour, energy, and his love of Signal and the arts.


I have known Jim for about 20 years now through Signal Arts, and Bray Arts Club, and the nights I would bump into him at BIFE (we both taught night classes there) and as parents waiting outside Gaelscoil Uí Chéadaigh. I have only been working at Signal again since March (time flies!) and I felt that I was getting to know Jim again, reintroduced so to speak.

Jim was regularly here in Signal, mostly because of his duties as a board member but just as often just for the chat. He was picking my brains just a few weeks ago with regard to mould making, because he had carved a chess set that he was very proud of and he was thinking about reproducing it. We had a good long discussion over tea about the various options available and I was looking forward to seeing the chess set. I am now experiencing a strong sense of disbelief, as I fully expect Jim to walk through the gallery door at any moment.

He will be greatly missed by all friends of Signal Arts and all of the Signal Staff, both past and present. Our sincere and heartfelt condolences go out to the Morrison family.

Further information will be posted on the Signal Arts Facebook page as it becomes available, and you can find some information on the RIP deaths notices pages.

James Hayes