FOR the past seven years, Askeaton, the town itself, its community and culture, its river and history, even its economy, have been the inspiration for several dozen artists, both Irish and international through the annual Askeaton Contemporary Arts festival.
And this year will be no different says festival curator Michele Horrigan who was the inspiration behind the event which began in 2006.
Each year, the Welcome to the Neighbourhood project invites five or six artists to live in and explore Askeaton for a fortnight and to produce an artwork during their stay.
The idea, Michele explains, is to open up fresh possibilities of how contemporary art might operate outside a city environment and to give local people an opportunity to understand and experience contemporary art in their own locality.
And, through the years since the first “edition” in 2006, the project has thrown up surprises, sparked opinion, generated international interest and coverage as well as producing some award-winning artwork.
This year’s festival was launched on Tuesday by Askeaton Civic Trust chairman, Cllr Kevin Sheahan and runs until July 21 but the five artists selected for this year’s “edition” arrived at the weekend to begin their work.
They include Benjamin de Burca, from Berlin who works mainly in drawings and photographs, and who will explore landscape during his residency while Gary Coyle from Dun Laoghair will operate a kind of pop-up studio in the town. London-based Sam Jury will make a video while Ben Kinsley and Jessica Langley from Pittsburgh will create a series of semi-permanent public sculptures based on favourite places.
The artworks will go on display to the public on the afternoon of Saturday, July 21 when there will be a formal launch and guided tour.
But the festival includes a number of other strands. This Thursday, at 8pm in the Civic Trust building, for example, Michele lecture on the Hellfire Club project.
This project has involved a number of artists creating works in response to the story and the impressive ruin of Askeaton’s Hellfire Club, one of only two to be built in Ireland in the 18th century.
The artworks have been on display around the town since early in the year and a publication, detailing the project, will be launched as part of this year’s festival.
Next Tuesday, July 17 there will be an interactive video workshop run by Aidan Kelliher, also to be held in the Civic Trust Building. During the workshop, Michele explains, participants will have the chance to make their own video and will learn to piece it together to make it interactive.
The workshop is open to any adult who is interested but the number is restricted to 12 and places should be pre-booked. On Thursday, July 19, Seanie Barron will give a talk on the story and craft behind his distinctive walking sticks.
Contact 087-2977179 to book or for further details or go to www.askeatonarts.com.