Mary Burke: Townscape
Dunamaise Arts Centre in association with Laois Arts Office and Visual Arts Ireland
One of the most significant exhibitions to emerge from the Midlands will be launched in Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise on 10 March and continues until 30 April, ahead of a tour to the Irish Architectural Archive, Dublin and Maynooth University, Co Kildare. The exhibition will be preceded on its opening day from 2.30pm to 4.30pm by a seminar that explores public and artistic engagement with architecture.
On the invitation of Arts Officer and Curator Muireann Ní Chonaill, Mary Burke visited Laois Arthouse to see if Stradbally would be a suitable and appealing subject matter for her to consider. Over a twelve month period she visited twelve homes selected and Townscape was born.
“The built environment has always been central to my work. Most of my work has been Dublin situated. Townscape has provided me with the opportunity to explore homes in the rural midland town of Stradbally,” says Mary Burke.
Being a rural, planted town there were a great variety of homes to choose from for Mary’s subject matter. Mary has included paintings of Stradbally Hall; ancestral home of Tom, Gesa and the Cosby family; which is central to the story of the town. Featured is one of the estate cottages in Court Square, built by the Cosby family for their workers in the early 1880’s and now home to Mary Hegarty and Brian Flanagan. Also on Court Square is the home of Christine and James Hewitt. On Main Street the homes of undertakers John and Anne Lynch to the rear of their business and of Christine Mulhall and David Kennedy are included. The Parochial House, residence of Rev Jim O’Connell, the then Parish Priest is featured. Also in Townscape is John and Irene Delaney’s house in Brockley Park, a development designed by renowned architect Frank Gibney for Laois County Council in the 1950’s and indicative of Gibney’s careful consideration of site, aspect and orientation. Houses within the recently built estates of ‘Cillbeg Manor’ belonging to Rita and Pat Scully and Siobhan and Sean Kane’s home in ‘The Glebe’ are included. Further examples of modern abodes are those of John and Rachel Conway and Geraldine and Seán Delaney and the homes of Dick and Katie Dillon in ‘Woodview’, to the rear of Laois Arthouse which are also featured.
The involvement of Sociologist, Professor Mary Corcoran, enriched the project immeasurably. She documented what living in Stradbally means to the home owners. Townscape brings sociology, the community and the arts into collaborative practice. Consisting of 18 paintings in oil pastel on canvas, Townscape opens on 10th March at 5pm in Dunamaise Arts Centre.
A seminar titled ‘A Dialogue with Architecture: Reinterpreting the Irish Town’, takes place at 2.30pm that same day in Dunamaise, in association with Visual Arts Ireland (VAI). The afternoon includes a tour of the exhibition conducted by Mary Burke and Muireann Ní Chonaill and panel discussion with contributions by Mary Corcoran, Maynooth University; Carole Pollard, DIT; Miriam Delaney, Free Market’ representing Ireland at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice, 2018; Michael Parsons, Chair of the Heritage Council and Annette Moloney, Arts Council Advisor on the Per Cent for Art Scheme. Short film Town written and directed by Orla Murphy, School of Architecture, UCD will be screened. The panel discussion will be chaired by Sinead O’Reilly of the Arts Council.
A companion book called Townscape documenting the project with essays by Mary Corcoran, Jenny Haughton and the paintings will be available to purchase for €10. Bookings for the seminar are through VAI at 01-6729488 or email@example.com.
Townscape runs at Dunamaise Arts Centre gallery from 10 March – 30 April. Details from www.dunamaise.ie or the Box Office on 057-8663355 or further information from Curator of Townscape Muireann Ní Chonaill, Tel: 057-8664109 firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.laois.ie/arts