Mary Burke: Townscape
Dunamaise Arts Centre in association with Laois Arts Office and Visual Arts Ireland
Mary Burke is a critically acclaimed Irish artist whose life’s work up to this point has dealt with painting suburban surroundings. On the invitation of Laois Arts Officer and Curator Muireann Ní Chonaill, Mary Burke visited Laois Arthouse to see if Stradbally, Co Laois 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. These days it is probably best known for the annual Electric Picnic festival. 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 opened on 10th March in Dunamaise Arts Centre.
In association with the exhibition a series of lunchtime talks entitled Town Talks will take place in the Irish Architectural Archive on May 11, 18, 25 May and 8th June from 1.15pm sharp-2pm. These talks are free of charge but entry is on a first come firsts served basis.
A companion book called Townscape documenting the project with essays by Mary Corcoran, Jenny Haughton and the paintings is available to purchase for €10 from the Irish Architectural Archive. Details from email@example.com
Townscape runs at Irish Architectural Archive, 45 Merrion Square, Dublin 2. 8 May – 31 August, Maynooth University Library, Maynooth Co Kildare. 12 – 30 November, Laois Arthouse, Stradbally, Co Laois. 7 – 21 December