Introduction to Ground Up

Siobhán Mulcahy
County Arts Officer

A Project exploring contemporary Arts in a Rural Context

Clare is predominantly a rural county. The majority of artists living in Clare reside in a rural setting. Yet the arts, for the most part, take place in urban locations. This raises a number of important questions;

How can contemporary art be brought to a rural audience, in a way that is accessible, but without compromising the art?

How can visual and contemporary art be viewed by a rural community within their own setting?

How can contemporary artists overcome their professional isolation and address the need to acquire new skills in their own areas?

In an effort to address these questions, the County Arts Office initiated ‘Ground Up’ a Rural Arts Project involving a number of local artists. This project will ultimately commission temporary artworks to be exhibited at various rural locations in the county.

This publication is the first such commission and it aims to explore some of the issues which have arisen over the duration of the project. It is hoped that this publication will raise many questions about contemporary arts practice, it does not purport to answer any questions.

The Arts have always been a fluid, developing medium of society which has normally been much maligned and much celebrated, often at the same time. The preponderance of the traditional arts in Clare is renowned nationally and internationally, but complimenting the wonderful traditions of music, dance and singing in the county, there is a large, disparate artistic community working in a variety of settings. Many have made a conscious decision to move to Clare, creating a cosmopolitan artistic community in a rural setting. This is something which has been embraced and welcomed by local communities. Yet, the same local communities often disengage from the artworks produced by the artists.

The issues involved are many and complex and in many instances a lack of dialogue, criticism and debate surrounds them. We hope that this publication will engage the people of Clare at a variety of levels and that it will give some of the local artists an opportunity to portray, explain and display their work.

The Arts Office welcomes comments on this publication and these should be directed to Fiona Woods, North Clare Arts Office, Library Buildings, Ennistymon, Co. Clare. Tel 065 7071292 or email

Siobhán Mulcahy
County Arts Officer