Projects

Workhouse Guild

Date
2015
Location
Callan, County Kilkenny
Artists
Kate Fahey, Fiona McDonald, Lucas Wilson, Jane Walker, Deirdre O'Mahony, Adrian Duncan
Funders
Arts Council of Ireland Project Award, Kilkenny County Council Arts Act Award

Workhouse Assembly, Union and Guild were a trio of projects undertaken over a four-year period focusing on the history, context and future possibilities of the Callan Workhouse building, where the Workhouse Union team and library are based.

Workhouse Guild drew thinking from Richard Sennett’s book, The Craftsman, in which he describes guilds as ‘joined skill in community’ allowing creative developments through partnerships and communal participation. With county Kilkenny’s rich design and craft heritage, stemming from the Kilkenny Design Workshops, how can we find renewed energy from this far-reaching initiative?

Workhouse Guild examined visual arts practice in relation to craft-making and design through a programme of artists residencies and commissioned new work. Four artists, Kate Fahey, Fiona McDonald, Lucas Wilson and Jane Walker, undertook two-week residencies. Each artist focused on self-directed practice and context specific exploration, drawing on the wider context of Kilkenny’s craft and design culture.

Workhouse Guild also included the commissioning of Deirdre O’Mahony’s film work The Persistent Return, which draws on research into the history of the potato. O’Mahony’s film presents a poetic understanding of the potatoes’ cultural and economic role in our histories, and reminds us that real sustainability lies in our capacity to provide for ourselves. The Persistent Return was co-produced with VISUAL and exhibited at VISUAL, Carlow (2018) and at the Natural History Museum, Leuwaarden as part of the 2018 European Capital of Culture Programme.

 

Images

Workhouse Guild Publication (PDF)
Workhouse Guild Open Call (PDF)
Workhouse Assembly
Workhouse Union
Persistent Return filmwork by Deirdre O'Mahony. Installation shot, VISUAL. Photo by Ros Kavanagh
Persistent Return filmwork by Deirdre O'Mahony. Installation shot, VISUAL. Photo by Ros Kavanagh
Fiona Mc Donald during her Workhouse Guild residency. Photo by Brian Cregan
Kate Fahy during her Workhouse Guild residency. Photo by Brian Cregan
Jane Walker during her Workhouse Guild residency. Photo by Brian Cregan
Lucas Wilson during his Workhouse Guild residency. Photo by Brian Cregan
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