New ‘cultural hub’ for artists is launched in Limerick

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

New ‘cultural hub’ for artists is launched in Limerick
THE ‘nomadic’ Occupy Space gallery has found a headquarters at last in a new cultural hub for artists that has opened on Cecil Street in the city.

THE ‘nomadic’ Occupy Space gallery has found a headquarters at last in a new cultural hub for artists that has opened on Cecil Street in the city.

H-Q, which was officially launched last week and resides in the former retail unit at No.9 Lower Cecil Street, will play host to Occupy as well as offering four artist studios, a bookable project space for all art forms, as well as an artist residency scheme to be established.

An initiative supported by the Limerick Arts Office, the Arts Council and Visual Artists Ireland, the establishment of the hub has been spearheaded by artist Gemma Gore, and Occupy Space directors Orlaith Treacy and Noelle Collins, who are seeking to establish a physical and more permanent space for artists to practice their work in the city.

Occupy was founded in 2009 by members of Wickham Street Studios and, through Creative Limerick, inhabited a space in the Thomas Street retail centre, before being displaced in 2011.

Since then, the gallery has been, as Noelle notes, ‘nomadic’ and seeking to “create something more permanent”, and thanks to St. Michael’s Sporting Club, who have given H-Q the space at a “reduced rate”, appear to have found their home.

“We wanted to create something a bit more sustainable and long term,” explains Orlaith Treacy.

“Because previously running as Occupy, we were quite moveable and changeable, now we want to create something that is permanent here in Limerick city because we want to sustain the arts community that is very strong here already.

“We want to support that and keep it going if we can, so that is really the idea behind it,” she added.

H-Q will be open Wednesday through Sunday, from 12-6pm, with a new exhibition in the space called Common Ground opening this Thursday.

But there is more to it than visual art, as Orlaith explains.

“What we hope to have here is a long programme of visual art exhibitions, events and music, hopefully theatre - we have a few events booked in for the coming couple of months,” she explains.

“We are hoping to have more of that to involve the whole arts community in the space and it not just be focused on visual arts, and especially in the run up to City of Culture, we just want to be a cultural hub,” she says.

City arts officer Sheila Deegan notes that H-Q has developed into “something further” than the role Occupy previously held in the city, which was set up as a gallery to show and support Limerick artists.

“It is an umbrella organisation that will encompass Occupy but has developed into something further, which is parallel to that, with residency and studio spaces,” she says.

The arts officer says the demand for artist space in the city is “incredible”.

“People living and working in places is a really key aspect in keeping the city vibrant and alive,” she explains.

“It is wonderful to think that this space, because it is a project space as well as a gallery, can be utilised by lots of different organisations and groups. Lots of people want to do something for City of Culture, and this will be one of the places that they will be able to do it.”

See www.h-q.ie for more.