Saibhreas-opening Saturday 11 April at 3.00pm in Damer House Gallery in association with the Laois Arthouse
In a land that mourns the recent loss of material wealth, we sometimes have to stop and look at the richness that is all around us. Richness abounds in the Midlands and often it is free for us to enjoy; no money need change hands. Standing in the dusky evening as the light fades across the Slieve Blooms, monasticism ever present, castles, grand houses, burial sites, folklore, and hidden secrets beneath your feet as you walk the bogs and “the dark mutinous Shannon waves”. In such moments it is difficult not to feel the rich pull of history and ancient culture and how it juxtaposes with the now, in the Midlands. Ghost estates, emigration, modern settlers, and orbital routes. Arteries pulsating with high speed traffic through the Midlands, often whirring over hidden gems.
In collaboration with Damer House Gallery and at the invitation of Muireann Ní Chonaill, artists associated with the Midlands have responded to the theme of Saibhreas, which means richness and abundance in Irish. Ranging from photography, print, painting and sculpture to film and audio, each artist has been influenced by people, surroundings and the life of the Midlands.
As rich as Damer is an Irish phrase which refers to the prosperity of the Damer family. Very often we do not know the origins of phrases but in this instance, we do. Damer House dates from the 1720’s and is believed to have been built for John Damer soon after he bought the town of Roscrea in 1722. Damer’s uncle, Joseph Damer, originally from Dorset, settled in Ireland in the aftermath of Charles II’s restoration in 1660 and prospered as a Dublin moneylender, to the extent that he was able to purchase estates in North Tipperary. Having no children of his own, he brought over his nephew, John, both to assist him in the business and to inherit his wealth. Damer House is unusual in that it stands in the centre of a 13th century castle on which work commenced during the reign of King John.
In this celebration of artistic creativity, the richness and abundance associated with the Midlands is acknowledged. Saibhreas will travel to the Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise, opening on June 18th at 7:30pm
The Dead, James Joyce
The artists: Aisling Conroy; Brendon Deacy; Brian Redmond; Caroline Conway; Cathy Carman; Eileen McDonagh; Eoin O’Conaill; Jerry Cahir; Jock Nichol; Ken Wardrop; Lisa Fingleton; Lorraine Walsh; Michael Boran; Niall Cahìr; Nick Miller; Nuala Hayes; Pat Fitzpatrick; Ray Murphy; Rita Duffy; Ruth Barry; Sharon Murphy; Simon Burch; Stephen Loughman; Vera McEvoy and Wendy Wright.
Curator: Muireann Ní Chonaill is Arts Officer in Laois County Council and Manager of the Laois Arthouse. She is a graduate of Arts Administration from UCD and has an MA in Visual Arts, specialising in Curating from IADT. She oversees the management of the Laois Arthouse in Stradbally. Last year she curated the Sitting residency by Nick Miller in the Laois Arthouse.
Thanks to Laois County Council Arts Office for assistance. Special thanks to Wendy Wright for curatorial assistance in preparation of Saibhreas.