Feast of contemporary art in Askeaton

Colm Ward

Reporter:

Colm Ward

Artistic process: Sam Keogh and his father Brian preparing a kiln to make ceramic smartphones in Askeaton as part of the Welcome to the Neighbourhood residency in the town last month
Ceramic smartphones in a bar and a video of a ghost-ridden horse wandering through historic ruins were among the works produced as part of this year’s Welcome to the Neighbourhood, the contemporary arts residency programme in Askeaton.

Ceramic smartphones in a bar and a video of a ghost-ridden horse wandering through historic ruins were among the works produced as part of this year’s Welcome to the Neighbourhood, the contemporary arts residency programme in Askeaton.

The programme, now in its tenth year, brings a number of artists to live and produce work in the town for a number of weeks every July.

This year’s invited artists included Deirdre O’Mahony, Sam Keogh, Quim Packard and Maya Schweizer.

According to Michele Horrigan of Askeaton Contemporary Arts, who curated the event, they got a very positive response from local people.

“This year we did a lot more public events and we got huge audiences for all of them which was great,” she said.

Among the events which took place during the month was a talk by John Moone on the history of Askeaton Castle and a guided tour of places of interest in West Limerick by artist Liz Ryan.

“One of the things that keeps people interested locally is tying in with the local expertise,” Ms Horrigan explained.

“We have always prided ourselves as an organisation that keeps firmly in the community.”

The fact that the work is being created on the ground in Askeaton also provides local people with an opportunity to watch as it develops. Ceramic artist Sam Keogh and his father Brian attracted a lot of attention as they were creating a series of ceramic smartphones in a home-made kiln.

“There were about 20 people gathered to see the firings,” Ms Horrigan said.

Similarly, there was a big reaction to Barcelona-based artist Quim Packard’s installation which was based on his experiences hunting mink with a local man around the Askeaton area.

The artist created an audio installation which was played from beneath a whitethorn bush in the town. According to Ms Horrigan, a crowd of about 60 people came along to see and hear the work.

An examination of ambitious, but ultimately abandoned, public works projects in the area formed the basis of Deirdre O’Mahony’s work, for which she set up an office in an empty shop in the East Square.

Visitors could come into the shop and study the documents tracing the hopes and residues of the development policies of the area.

Meanwhile, Berlin-based Maya Schweizer’s video installation featured a saddled horse with an “invisible ghostrider” wandering through Askeaton’s historical ruins.