Launch of Heart Exhibition of Photographs

Tuesday 12th December saw the launch of “Heart”, an exhibition of photographs by dance artist Erica Borges and photographer Terry Conroy at the Gallery.  A great crowd attended to celebrate the launch.  The project was funded through the Laois Creative Ireland programme and brings to an end, a year of imaginative and creative projects overseen by the Arts and Heritage Sections of Laois County Council.  The exhibition was launched by of Alexandre Iseli  of Iseli-Chiodi Dance Company from Tipperary and it will run until Friday 26th December.


New Exhibition at Laois Arthouse

Upcoming Exhibition of Photography titled ‘Heart’

As part of the 2017 Creative Ireland Programme the Laois Arthouse Gallery, Stradbally  hosted an exhibition of photographs titled ‘Heart’.  Comprising of a vibrant and unique collection of photographs created by dance artist Erica Pessanha Borges and photographer Terry Conroy.  The beauty and richness of some of County Laois Heritage sites form the backdrop to the dance forms captured in this collection of photographs.  The exhibition opened on  Tuesday 12th December at 7.30pm by Jazmin Chiodi of Iseli-Chiodi Dance Company ran until 26th January 2018.


Leaves Festival Programme Launched



Emo Court events 10-12 November

Dunamaise events 7-9 November

The annual Leaves Festival of Writing and Music is just around the corner. Leaves celebrates the diversity and richness in today’s literary, music, theatre and film scene. Leaves aims to excite and engage with audiences young and old.

This year the weekend-long programme will be held in Emo Court; the magnificent Gandon designed neo-classical house and gardens on the outskirts of Portlaoise. At the recent launch of the Leaves Festival in Emo Court, Festival Curator, Muireann Ní Chonaill said, “the Leaves Festival is a great opportunity to celebrate writers, musicians and the world of film and theatre. We are very excited to be hosting the Leaves weekend in the beautiful surroundings of Emo Court and there is no better place to listen to and meet writers and musicians.”

Opening the weekend in the Drawing Room, Emo Court, on Friday night 10th November, at 8.00pm are poets Jean Ó Brien, Martin Figura, and Helen Ivory. They will be joined by musician, Úna Keane and the event will be chaired by Arthur Broomfield.

The Tea Rooms in Emo Court is the venue for Saturday mornings writing workshop, to be led by Helen Ivory. It runs from 10am-12.30pm on Saturday 11th November.

Returning to the Drawing Room for the rest of Saturday’s events(11th November), are poets Denise Curtin, Paddy Moran, Karen J Mc Donnell, joined by Portlaoise born musician, Gary Dunne. This event will be chaired by Séamus Hosey and commences at 3.00pm.

To celebrate National Harp Day, Scottish Harpist, Catriona McKay together with Swedish nyckelharpa player Olov Johansson, will perform a special concert. They will be accompanied by the Music Generation Laois Harpists and it commences at 5.00pm on 11th November.

Saturday evening (11th November) will feature Lisa Harding and Kevin Barry reading and discussing their novels with Sean Rocks, presenter of Arena, on Radio 1 and it commences at 8.00pm.

On Sunday at noon, 12th  November, the Drawing Room will be the setting for the premiere of Thresholds.

This new music commission celebrating the theme of pollination, by Ian Wilson will be performed by saxophonist, Cathal Roche. It was funded through the Creative Ireland Laois programme. The winning poems on the theme of pollination will be read by the prizewinners at this event. The new Laois Spoken Word artist, who will commence their ten month residency during the Leaves Festival will be introduced to the public at this gathering also. During their residency the Spoken Word artist will work with young people throughout the county, through secondary schools, Youth Theatre and Youthreach.

The Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise has scheduled events for Leaves, including cinema; My Cousin Rebecca and the live broadcast from the Harold Pinter Theatre, London of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.  Dubliners’ Women, by Katie O’Kelly, featuring female characters from James Joyce’s Dubliners, will be performed.

Readings in the schools and libraries will be by Helen Ivory, Martin Figura and Alan Nolan.

Booking Box Office: 0578663355 or online at

Follow us on Facebook at Leaves. For more information please contact the Arts Office, Laois County Council Portlaoise, Co Laois. Email Web



Laois Leaves Festival of Literature and Music

The annual Leaves Festival of Writing and Music is just around the corner. Leaves celebrates the diversity and richness in today’s literary, music, theatre and film scene. Leaves aims to excite and engage with audiences young and old.  Running from the 7th to the 12th November it promises something for everyone. The programme will be launched on Friday 6th October at Emo Court. more information to come.

“Unlocking the Creative Self” with writer Pauline Clooney

The Arts Office, Laois County Council will host a writers workshop titled “Unlocking the Creative Self” with writer Pauline Clooney at Laois Arthouse, Stradbally on Thursday 12th October from 4pm-6pm as part of the Laois Connects Programme.

Free/Booking essential – Limited numbers – T: 057 8664033/13 or E:

Many writers have said that their own life experiences inform their writing whether that writing is fiction, poetry or creative non-fiction.  New writers will often be told to write about what they know, but this does not mean that you are restricted to write about what you have experienced.

Once you acquire the tools for flexing your writing muscle you will be taken to places you didn’t know you knew, characters you don’t remember meeting, events you’d forgotten you were part of. This workshop will take you through ways of exploring what it is you know and what you don’t realise you know. The workshop will be activity and discussion based. There will be a short piece of writing you will be asked to read in preparation for the course content. All you need on the day is a pen and some paper and an open mind.

 Pauline Clooney is a native of Portlaoise.  She holds an M.Litt from NUI Maynooth (2006), and an MA in Creative Writing from UCD (2015). She is an award winning writer having won the RTE Guide/Penguin Ireland Short Story competition in 2015 and being runner up in the Doolin Short Story competition (2015).  Her stories have been longlisted for the inaugural Colm Tóibín Short Story Competition (2016), the Fish Short Memoir competition (2014), the Fish Short Story Prize (2015). She is the 2017 recipient of Kildare County Council Tyrone Guthrie bursary.  Formerly an English and history teacher at second level she now teaches creative writing at the Kildare Writing Centre which she established in 2016. She is currently working on her debut novel.



Exhibition puts focus on Young Laois Artists


The artistic talents of the young people of Co. Laois, and the contribution they have made towards the success of the Texaco Children’s Art Competition, now in its 63rd year, were celebrated in a week-long art exhibition entitled ‘Time and Space’ – A Celebration of Texaco Children’s Art Success in Laois’ which opened at the Laois Arthouse Gallery, Stradbally on Thursday 21st September.

At the Official Opening of the ” Time and Space ” Exhibition – a celebration of Texaco Children’s Art Success in Laois , at the Laois Arthouse Gallery, were: Clr. Padraig Fleming ( Cathaoirleach Laois County Council ), Lucy Deegan ( Texaco Winner/ Culture night Ambassador ), Muireann Ni Chonaill ( Laois Arts Officer )and Ciaran Leonard ( Texaco Winner ). Photo: Michael Scully- no reproduction fee.

Curated by Lucy Deegan, the 2017 Laois Culture Night Ambassador, the exhibits included the colourful portrait study of her brother Tom, carefully executed with colouring pencils and white gel pen, which won Lucy the top prize in the 63rd Texaco Children’s Art Competition.


Also amongst the exhibits at Stradbally were works by three other Laois students all of whom featured highly in the competition this year. A  portrait study entitled ‘Weathered Wisdom’ by 13-years old Ciarán Leonard, a pupil at St. Mary’s CBS Portlaoise, which took second prize in the 12-13 years age category. Other young Laois winners whose winning works featured were sister and brother Asma Zulfiqas (age 14), from Scoil Chríost Rí, Portlaoise and Abdul Ahad Zulfiqar (age 6), from Holy Family Junior School, Portlaoise.

A pupil of Gaelcholáiste Cheatharlach in Carlow Town, Lucy Deegan is the daughter of well-known tourism industry figure, Jim Deegan – founder of the Railtours Ireland First Class organisation, and his wife Fionnuala – herself an accomplished animation artist whose work features in Hollywood blockbusters ‘An American Tail’ and ‘All Dogs Go To Heaven’.


No stranger to the Competition, Lucy has featured amongst the prizewinners on five occasions to date. Her three siblings, brother Tom and sisters Annie Rose and Juliet, have also won prizes in previous years.


As part of her prizewinning package, 17-years old Lucy from Luggacurran received a top prize of €1,500 plus an invitation to visit Tokyo awarded by the International Foundation for Arts and Culture where she was an honoured guest at a ceremony held in conjunction with the 18th International High School Arts Festival in which her winning artwork was exhibited.


Underlining the support that exists for the Texaco Children’s Art Competition is the fact that, over the past five years alone, some 2,799 entries were received from young Laois artists – a figure that confirms the view that the number of entries submitted by Laois students since the competition first began in 1955 amounts to some tens of thousands.


The exhibition was launched by Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council Padraig Fleming. Speaking about the exhibition Cathaoirleach Padraig Fleming said, ‘the level of young talent in our county is evident from the art works on display. The work is breathtaking. Choosing Lucy Deegan as Culture Night Ambassador is a very fitting honour. She is an inspiration to all art lovers, young and old in our county.’





“The Meeting” a New Exhibition Opening at Laois Arthouse

Laois Arthouse and The Olivier Cornet Gallery are delighted to present ‘The Meeting’ a group exhibition featuring work by David Fox, Aileen Hamilton, Darina Meagher and Vicky Smith



County Laois Arts Officer Muireann Ní Chonaill and Dublin gallerist Olivier Cornet met for the first time at the Speed Curating event arranged annually by Visual Artists Ireland (VAI) as part of their artists’ Get Together at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA). Through working side-by-side in the chapel at IMMA, meeting artists at this event, the idea for the joint exhibition was born.  From the artists they met last year, Olivier invited David Fox and Vicky Smith and Muireann invited Darina Meagher and Aileen Hamilton to participate in this joint exhibition.


The exhibition will open in the Laois Arthouse, Stradbally, Co Laois, on Saturday 1st July, 1pm and will run there until Friday 28th July. Guest Speaker at the opening: Monica Flynn, Professional Development Officer, Visual Artists Ireland (VAI)


The exhibition will travel at the end of the month to the Olivier Cornet Gallery, 3 Great Denmark Street, Dublin 1 where it will open on Sunday 6th August, 3pm. The show will run there until 3rd September. Guest Speaker at the opening: Noel Kelly, CEO and Director of Visual Artists Ireland (VAI)



About the artists



David Fox

Originally from Tullamore, Co. Offaly and born in 1987, Fox has been painting since a very young age. He graduated from GMIT (Galway), with an Honours degree in Fine Art in 2011 and the University of Ulster, Belfast, with an MFA (Masters in Fine Art) in 2013

Currently, he is both living and working in Belfast, and has a studio residency at Creative Exchange Artist Studios, in East Belfast.

Fox has exhibited both nationally and internationally including the Galway Arts Festival in 2009, Belfast’s Platform arts gallery in 2011 and the Luan Gallery, Westmeath in 2015. He has exhibited at international art fairs including Positions art fair, Berlin and international solo exhibitions at Galeria Silvestre, Tarragona Spain. Most recently, he had a solo show, ‘A road less travelled’ at An Chultúrlann in Belfast.

Olivier met the artist at Visual Artists Ireland’s Speed Curating event in Belfast in January 2016. David was then invited to participate in a group show ‘Republic’ in the summer of 2016. Since then the artist has become an AGA member (Associate Gallery Artist ) of the Olivier Cornet Gallery


Aileen Hamilton

Aileen Hamilton considers ecological cycles and organic process within her drawings, exploring the delicate balance and repetitive patterns that bind the natural world to form. Isolated landscapes appear suspended or floating in a fragile and exposed state as Aileen explores the physical and mental borders of our world. In doing so, she reveals hidden layers and draws an analogy between the internal terrain of the body and the wider ecosystems in which we live. Landscapes bend as if in a space-time continuum, the exploratory folds evoking the artist’s search for meaning in both micro and macro environments. The interplay between 2D and 3D environments is an integral part of the process in which Aileen moves back and forth between depth and flatness, her drawings growing out of the wall and interacting with the architectural space. In creating these hybrid landscapes, Aileen is drawn to the thin yet fibrous quality of paper, a material both fragile and solid which she progressively allows to find its own form of existence.

“I am currently based between Barcelona and Ireland. Originally from a rural part of County Meath, I am continually inspired by home, my travels and our connection to the land. In my drawings, I investigate themes of dis-location and our relationship with a changing landscape. The interplay between 2D and 3D environments is an integral part of my process where I move back and forth between depth and flatness, with drawings growing out of the wall and interacting with the architectural space.

I studied Fine Art in NCAD and graduated in 2001. Since then I have shown in Ireland, Spain, Japan, Sweden and Thailand and completed residencies in Ireland and Japan.”

Muireann met the artist at Visual Artists Ireland’s Speed Curating event at IMMA in August 2016.


Darina Meagher

Meagher’s work is an on-going investigation through the medium of paint and the simple act of mark-making. She explores new ways of seeing and experiencing the world, always seeking that juncture within artistic process, which allows the infra-thin to occur.

With an Honours B. Des and an MA in Visual Communication, from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Meagher spent many years working in the area of design and visual communication. A deep interest in the hand-made has led her to contemporary painting.

Awarded a BA (Hons.) in Visual Arts Practice at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Dun Laoghaire in 2011, she completed a Masters in Fine Art Painting at the NCAD, Dublin in 2014. Winner of the Peter O’Kane Solo Exhibition award at the RDS Student Awards 2011, Meagher also completed a three-month studio residency at the RHA, in 2015.

Recently, Meagher was presented with a residency at Arthouse, Stradbally, this was awarded at the Dunamaise Arts Centre Annual Open Submissions Exhibition in November 2016.

Meagher has exhibited extensively. Muireann met the artist at Visual Artists Ireland’s Speed Curating event at IMMA in August 2016.


Vicky Smith

Vicky Smith is an award winning visual artist who is a member of Engage Art Studios in Galway. Her practise is rich and a complex language in a variety of mediums-small drawings, paintings, film to installations predominately installation based often composed of paintings, photographs, sculpture, text, found objects and film that explore feminist concepts. The bell jar is motif for the complex installations of enclosures. Performance films and appropriated films are an enjoyment of this enclosure, the isolation bell jar of a female experience. Her artistic concern is female identity within the domestic setting, the social setting and the workplace defined by traditional roles of house wife, work, woman. The work is rooted in being a woman a female artist, what this means, the made boundaries.

‘HouseWork, Woman, Wife’ is a series of photo stills reflecting a suburban housewife’s realisation that maybe all of her life will end up with invisible, repetitive, uncreative housework.

The film on which these photo stills are based is a non-narrative study of domestic labour, work that seems not to be taken seriously by society at all. The whole notion of women being housewives has changed. Do you talk about yourself as a housewife? Most of the change that has happened since the 70’s is a superficial inequality of responsibility. 70% of British and Irish women said they are mostly responsible for housework. Men did housework, he helped her with the housework not the other way round. The 1970s is still happening now.

This body of work explores the space between the individual domestic labour and society’s economic workplace through the lens of a personal story of a newly-married woman who finds herself temporarily out of work. She marks time through the act of housework.

Olivier met the artist at Visual Artists Ireland’s Speed Curating event at IMMA in August 2016. Since then the artist has become an AGA member (Associate Gallery Artist) of the Olivier Cornet Gallery.


The Arthouse and Library

Stradbally, Co. Laois

057 866 4033/ 13

Web: Email:

FB: thearthouseandlibrary Twitter: @ArthouseLibrary


Opening hours:

Tue+Thu 1-5pm, 5:30-8pm

Sat 10am-1pm (entry through library)

Wed+Fri 1-4pm

(entry through Laois Arthouse)


Olivier Cornet Gallery
3 Great Denmark Street
(beside Belvedere College,
off Parnell Square)
Dublin 1
Opening hours:
Tues to Fri: 11am to 6pm
(till 8pm on Thursdays)
Sat & Sun: 12 noon to 5pm
Closed on Mondays (or viewing by
appointment only)
FB: Olivier Cornet Gallery
Twitter: OC_Gallery


Painting and Drawing in Light, Mood and Movement

Friday the 9th of June 2017 at 4.30 saw the launch of an exhibition of a body of artwork from “Painting and Drawing in Light, Mood and Movement”, at the Laois Arthouse, Stradbally.  The exhibition included selected work from a three day summer painting programme for adults led by renowned artist John Keating, from the  7th to the 9th July and also included some wonderful work by the artist himself.

As well as Laois artists taking part, the course attracted artists from a number of different parts of the country including:  Dublin, Westmeath, Tipperary, Limerick, Kildare, and Offaly. JV8A2273 JV8A2296

The Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council Tom Mulhall launched the exhibition.  In his address he welcomed all the artists to the Arthouse, he congratulated them on the quality of their work and he thanked everyone involved in running the programme.

The project was documented throughout by artist Lisa Fingleton and curated by Muireann Ní Chonaill, Arts Officer.