About: Drawing from works held in the Clare County Council Art Collection, owned by the people of Co Clare, the Young Curators Project came about following informal discussions between The Courthouse Gallery & Studios’ curator Anne Mullee and Ennistymon art teachers Maeve Collins, Bairbre Geraghty and Mary Fahy. “We wanted to explore a way of offering second level students an opportunity to experience the curatorial process from conception to execution, from making work to deciding what will be shown in an exhibition, designing the catalogue and installing an exhibition of the resulting selection of works”, explains Anne Mullee.
With grant funding from the Arts Council’s Young Ensembles Scheme, the project organisers were able to devise a programme of activity that offered an overview of this process, culminating in an exhibition drawing from the artworks held in Clare County Council’s art collection. This collection was instigated in 1983 following the purchase of eight prints through the Arts Council’s Joint Purchase Scheme. Since then it has grown through purchases, donations and commissions, primarily featuring artists from Co Clare. Students from two of the area’s three second level schools, Scoil Mhuire and Ennistymon Vocational School, participated in the project.
They also exhibited a selection of prints and conceptual work they made in response to the Art Collection, included in the exhibition. The 17 works chosen included prints of Louis le Brocquy’s stunning illustrations for Thomas Kinsella’s 1967 version of the Táin Bó Cúailnge, which retells the folk tales of Cúchulainn and the King of Ulster, as well as work by Deirdre O’Mahony, Jean Regan, John Hanrahan and Eithne Jordan. An early portrait by Royal Hibernian Academy president Mick O’Dea also made the cut – his depiction of Tommy Killoughrey was painted in his family’s pub in Ennis in 1983.
The Project saw the Group dipping their toes into thinking critically about art, from working with Visual Thinking Strategies facilitator Claire Halpin to collaborating with graphic designer Rob Henderson on the catalogue and poster for the exhibition. Over four months, the Young Curators visited Limerick City Gallery, Ormston House, Limerick Printmakers, and Clare’s County Council Offices, where they heard from curators and artists, made their own work, and debated the merits of various exhibitions.
Clare Arts Officer Siobhán Mulcahy gave them a tour of the collection, describing how the work was acquired by the council and offering background on the artists. While developing their own work in response to their selections, the Young Curators experimented with placing conceptual work in different environments – including placing an abstract sculptural work in the aisles of the local Aldi store.
The exhibition’s title, ‘Place and Movement’, reflects common themes the group saw in this selection of works, where Clare landscapes inform much of the subject matter. It was been a journey of discovery and realisation, the results of which can now be seen in this short video featuring footage taken throughout the project.