Marking the 30th anniversary of the twinning of two towns, Ruelle-sur-Touvre in France, and Banbridge in Northern Ireland, is a special art piece created by Newry Southern Regional College art student Eugena Woods. Eugena produced a stunning artwork, entitled ‘Celebration of Fusion’ which incorporates fused glass and textiles.

On the design, Eugena was keen to tie in the histories of the towns. The glass represents the conflict that both Banbridge and Ruelle-sur-Touvre have experienced in their respective pasts. The glass is transparent allowing the viewer to see through and observe the towns’ mutual achievements over the last three decades, since the twinning in 1994.

The sunburst design printed on linen, is a nod to the historic linen manufacturing industry in Banbridge. It represents the energy and spirit of this union, what has been achieved so far and the potential for future possibilities. The strong vibrant colours and dynamic shapes represent the multicultural nature of the two communities.

This piece is a fusion of the past and present, honouring the importance of why town twinning was developed after the Second World War, and represents how both towns have been enriched by their relationships and understanding of their respective cultures.

The 30th anniversary of the town’s twinning has seen local residents availing of French lessons, cookery demonstrations and French film viewings, to deepen the cultural connection between the two towns.

Eugena is a former primary school teacher who took up a recreational course in textiles at Southern Regional College. Whilst on the recreational course, Eugena became aware of the Foundation Art and Design Level 3 Diploma in Newry and has thrown herself into the course wholeheartedly. Whilst always having an interest in art, Eugena never pursued her artistic flair until now. Fancying a change in direction, Eugena took a career break from teaching, and you are now likely to find her at the glass kiln at the College most days fusing glass.

Speaking on her art piece celebrating the twinning of the two towns, Eugena commented:

I am honoured that my artwork has been chosen to celebrate the 30th twinning anniversary of Banbridge and Ruelle-sur-Touvre. I love working with fused glass and textile art. When I bring these materials together something new emerges. What a perfect opportunity then to use this fusion to create this celebration piece”.

Chris Hobson, Curriculum Area Manager at Southern Regional College commented:

“Eugena’s work is breath of fresh air. The way she brings elements together using hard and soft really works. The weaving of elements really makes it a unique piece and something worthy for the 30th Anniversary twinning”.

Banbridge Twinning Association art piece

Eugena pictured with her artwork ‘Celebration of Fusion’ celebrating the 30th anniversary of the twinning of Banbridge and Ruelle-sur-Touvre

Pictured (L-R): Patricia McAteer (Banbridge Twinning Association); Eugena Woods; Gilbert Lee (Chairman of Banbridge Twinning Association).