Exhibitions at Laois Arthouse in 2016

Heat manipulated fiber and acrylic medium

Heat manipulated fiber and acrylic medium

Next Showing:
“Related to Life”   A multimedia exhibition by Mette Sofie Roche   The exhibition runs from Thursday 17th November to Friday 9th December  Mette is originally from North-Norway but has lived in Ireland for more than 40 years and runs a full time art practise from her studio in Co. Meath. After a 30 year professional career as a social worker she graduated from NCAD in 2011 with a Diploma in Art & Design.


She is a process oriented and multidiscipline artist who uses a wide spectrum of both materials and methods in her art practise. What she is interested in is to take real life objects or materials and turn them by some inspired, secret process, into something else; related to life in some way, conceptual or otherwise, but stronger, more intense and preferably weirder.

Research into the cultural traditions, beliefs and myths of the Samé People in the Northern hemisphere, her ancestors, has given direction to her art work in the last few years. It is a culture in transition with influences from many different directions both religious, political and economic. Only traces and fragments are sometimes left of the ancient traditions and the knowledge of nature so vital to a traditional Samé community.

The sculptural installation of Tatterlings symbolises the deterioration of the old way of life and is made from the synthetic fiber found in workmen’s suits. A collection of drawings and silk paintings are further fragmentations of these sculptures.

She explores the old craft of candle making in her wall mounted and freestanding wax sculptures which are inspired by the old Samé ‘s belief in Totemism; believing in the power of inanimate objects to hold “conscious” spirits that interact with society. The land inhabited by the Samé have been fought over, claimed and contested for generations.The sculptures Inherited Landscape and Subject to Inquiry make references to the many litigation processes. In Whitescape, the memory and knowledge of the landscape are in the folds and layers, twists and turns of organically shaped rags from re-cycled cotton bed linen. The art work creates innovative compositions with elements of mystery, ambiguity and a sense of intrigue. The work process is a way of tracing and preserving things that are gone or slowly disappearing – or falling apart. The ambiguity allows the viewer to bring their own meaning to the art work. www.metteroche.com

Most recent exhibitions included an exhibition of paintings, entitled ‘Another Reality’ from Limerick based artist, Nuala O’Sullivan, in September. Nuala’s interest in the aesthetic and culture of the 1950s period and the friction between outward appearance and hidden restriction, come together in this series of paintings. The works reference family Super 8 movies and photographs from the 1950s and 1960s period.
Within the work many thin layers of paint are used to allow some of the light from the canvas to remain, reminiscent of holding a negative or piece of old celluloid film to the light. ‘Through my painting I want to intervene and interfere with the still image. This interference with the original image involves bringing colour, new scale, and new meaning to the images; bringing the viewer’s attention to the surface of the painting, and in so doing to show the passage of time within the final painting. Through painting these photographic images they will have an afterlife.’ Living and working in Limerick, Nuala O’Sullivan was awarded her BA in Fine Art (Painting) from Limerick School of Art and Design in 2006 and completed her MA in 2013.

In July the Arthouse Gallery, presented Night Shade Sound Scape an exhibition by Leitrim-based artist, Dorothee Kӧlle, officially launched by Enda Coyle-Greene, Poet and winner of the Patrick Kavanagh Award.
The work included paintings, collages, assemblages, and an installation reflecting the gallery space, the artist environment, and outer and inner experiences. Spontaneous creation, contemplation and analytical reflection go hand in hand during her process of working. A constant juggling between flexibility, openness, control and boundaries. The idea of a journey of travelling without knowing the outcome is reflected in searching and discovering different approaches in her art practices.
Dorothee Kӧlle has exhibited in various venues in Ireland such as in the RHA Annual Exhibition, IONTAS, Sculpture in Context and other selected or invited group shows since 1991. She completed the three years Sculpture Course in Manorhamilton, and graduated in Fine Art at Sligo IT in 2005.

‘On My Green Way I Wend’ an exhibition of paintings by Tipperary born artist Maria O’Brien took place in May.
A new body of work, created during her residency in The Laois Arthouse, reveals a renewed exploration into landscape for the artist. The exhibition was officially opened by Noel Kelly, CEO of Visual Artists Ireland.

The work explores humans engaging recreationally with the outdoors – using nature for their own diversion and entertainment with all the paraphernalia this involves. Action shots are painted quickly and deftly capturing the energy and spontaneity of the interaction between humans and their surrounds. O’Brien draws attention to how bizarre the human struggle to engage with nature often seems. She highlighted this through her palette, the often ostentatious coloured garb jumps out against the natural background. She paints people who want to be seen; a basic human desire. As much as wanting to be seen is innate in human nature, so is wanting to watch others, in the artist’s case painting the memories of perfect strangers. It is through her observation of the human in their surrounds, through her choice of content and rich surface, that the artist has created a new platform from which we, the audience, can vicariously people-watch ourselves.
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Studios and Apartment available at Laois Arthouse

Studios and Apartment now available at The Laois Arthouse, Stradbally, Co Laois.
Facilities include: Artists Studios, Exhibition Space, Rehearsal Space, Kiln, Garden, digital facilities, public library.
State of the Art Studios and one residential apartment – €180pm for Studio & €180pm for accommodation (including utilities & min rental 3 mths)
Application form available contact: Muireann Ni Chonaill, Arts Officer, Laois County Council Tel: 057: 8664109/8664033 or email: artsoff@laoiscoco.ie For more information visit the website: www.arthouse.ie

30 Years 30 Artists 30 Places

30 years logo with text

30 YEARS, ARTISTS, PLACES  – Major Touring Irish Art Exhibition

One of the most significant exhibitions of Irish artists in recent years will be launched in glór Ennis this December ahead of an extensive nationwide tour. The exhibition marks 30 years since Local Authorities embarked on providing for the arts locally, featuring 30 artists and 30 places.

This is a must see, not just for the extraordinary line up of Irish artists who rarely find themselves curated into one room, but for the stories of how they each came to be purchased, commissioned or acquired by local authorities, therein lies the real narrative; the quiet, genuine and imaginative support for Irish artists demonstrated by our local government for the past 30 years.

James Harrold Galway City Arts Officer remarked on the early days of being an Arts Officer “No, we weren’t going to fund the local heat of the Rose of Tralee, and we didn’t do heritage.  We would head off, free and untraceable, pioneering into the blue undiscovered hills and suburbs. Unbothered: we hadn’t mobile phones, no-one had. In the untethered bliss of communion with the invariably creative communities we encountered we were free to devise residencies, tour theatre, install exhibitions and bring our counties to life.”

Catherine Marshall of IMMA writes in the accompanying catalogue “..arts officers went quietly about their work, not heads of smart new venues, not curators of major festivals, not heads of glamorous collections but the real harbingers of the kind of change that empowers and transforms a society.”

At the heart of all this work are artists, and featuring in the exhibition are renowned artists such as Tony O’Malley, Alice Maher, Robert Ballagh, John Kindness, Norah McGuiness, Sean McSweeney, Sean Lynch and John Shinnors alongside alongside emerging artists such as Jenny Brady, Julie Merriman and David Stephenson and many others.  The resulting collection speaks of places, people and home which reflects upon local authority arts development as just that, of a place and of a people, of rural and urban Ireland, of home in a changing island where we are bold with new ideas but rooted in our past.

This touring exhibition, which is being funded by the Arts Council, is the first real public telling of this story. The exhibition will tour well into 2017, beginning with Glor in Ennis (December 7 – Jan 21),

See www.localartsireland.ie contact localartsireland@gmail.com

Plein Air

Jock in Studio (Lisa)P1160701

En Plein Air Film and Catalogue launch, Friday 20th May at 7.30pm

Friday 20th May at 7.30pm saw the launch of the film and catalogue documenting the

The En Plein Air residency and exhibition by Jock Nichol held in the Laois Arthouse in July 2015.

En Plein Air is a phrase used to describe the act of painting outdoors, also called: peinture sur le motif (“painting of the object(s) or what the eye actually sees”), where a painter reproduces the actual visual conditions seen at the time of the painting.


Jock utilized the facilities and  environs of Stradbally, running a very successful residency programme. Jock had three weeks to work on his own art practice and one week where he worked with a group of artists and enthusiasts interested in learning more about the En Plein Air process. He is a natural teacher and gently gets the best out of his students. The five day course was open to adult students of all abilities and focused on painting the landscape En Plein Air in the surroundings of the nearby Stradbally Hall Estate.


The catalogue is a record of the residency; demonstrating the importance of public engagement and opening the doors of the Laois Arthouse to the public. Documentation of the residency was Lisa Fingleton. She produced a short film on the residency which will be screened on the launch night.


Commenting on the residency Jock said, “I have several abiding memories of the summer of 2015. Playing a kind of hide-and-seek around Stradbally Estate, searching for people as they crouch over drawing boards behind hedges and walls (hopefully they weren’t really hiding from me) or sitting against an orchard wall simultaneously sunning ourselves and sheltering from the wind, eating lunch -tired from the mornings work but itching to get going again – long days that seemed so short.”

Laois Arts Officer, Muireann Ní Chonaill also curated the project, she said “The Laois Arthouse comes into its own with residencies. It opened in 2011 and offers support to artists through a variety of means. The Laois Arthouse is a place of work for artists. It is also a place where the public and the artist can meet and it was an obvious choice to invite Jock to lead out the En Plein Air programme.”

The En Plein Air progamme was funded through Laois County Council’s Arts programme and the Percent for Art Scheme.



Borders lll. from Kathmandu to Kerry and Beyond

Borders lll cover photoAt the Laois Arthouse, Stradbally, Co Laois curated by artist Vera Mc Evoy, opening on Thursday 11th June at 1.30pm. Launch by Debbie Thomas, children’s author and director of Nepal Leprosy Trust Ireland. A touring exhibition of 42 national and international artists,

Opens Monday to Friday, 11th to the 26TH June, 1-4pm or by special appointment. Sales from the Art Exhibition are in aid of Nepal Leprosy Trust Ireland.

Further information from the Laois Arthouse, Stradbally. T: 057 8664109/ 057 8664033. E: artsoff@laoiscoco.ie

Opening of The Kilbride Arts Studio Annual Exhibition

Thursday 7th May at 6pm saw  the official launch of the Annual Kilbride Studio Art Exhibition in the Laois Arthouse. A great crowd turned out to celebrate the work of the artists.  The Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council launched the event and he was glowing in his praise for the work, the artists and the art tutor with the group, Una McCormack.  The paintings are available for sale at really good prices, so come along and view the show from now until Friday 29th May.  Opening hrs 1pm-4pm from Mon-Fri or by appointment T: 057 8664033.9

Saibhreas Exhibition


10520673_10153140517637492_3521839715866305738_nSaibhreas-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”.[i] 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.

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

[1] 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 Laois County Council Arts Office for assistance. Special thanks to Wendy Wright for curatorial assistance in preparation of Saibhreas.

Exhibition runs until Sunday 10th May. For more information contact: The Arts Office, Laois County Council, Áras an Chontae, Portlaoise, Co Laois. T: 057 8664019. E: artsoff@laoiscoco.ie. Or Damer House Gallery E: damerhousegallery@gmail.com.



Calling exhibition proposals for 2015/2016

Expressions of interest for exhibitions in the Gallery and in the outdoor Garden area are now invited. A contribution of €200 is available to support artists exhibiting. The indoor exhibition space has a hanging system and the outdoor area is an enclosed garden with a feature wall with a mounted public artwork. The exhibition programme also includes opportunities for artists to conduct talks and tours of work. Application form, details and maps available here Open Call for Exhibitions 2015 2016 or Tel: 057: 8664109/8664033 or email: artsoff@laoiscoco.ie