Published: 28th January 2016

One of the most significant exhibitions of Irish artists in recent years will be launched in Ballina Civic Offices at 8pm on Friday 29th January, as part of an extensive nationwide tour.

Entitled 30 Years, Artists, Places the exhibition will be officially launched by Anne McCarthy, Arts Officer, Mayo County Council. It marks thirty years since Local Authorities embarked on providing for the arts locally, and features thirty artists and thirty 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 formerly 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 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, and started off in Glór in Ennis. Following its showing in Ballina, it will travel to the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny.

30 Years, Artists, Places is curated by Muireann Ní Chonaill, Laois Arts Officer. The exhibition will run until 26th February. Admission is free and all are welcome. For more information, contact Ballina Arts Centre. Tel: 096 73593 www.ballinaartscentre.com See www.localartsireland.ie contact localartsireland@gmail.com 

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