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A unique new publication dedicated to the arts in rural Ireland was launched in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) in February 2010.

Titled “Verge”, the new publication is a partnership project involving local authority arts offices in counties
Verge Image
Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Leitrim, Sligo, Donegal, Clare and North Tipperary, along with GMIT’s Creative Arts Department, the GMIT Shifting Ground project, and the Arts Council of Ireland.

The idea for the publication arose from a sincere desire among its participants to make available an alternative to urban-based visual arts publications. The magazine will contain articles from writers, artists and poets on issues relating to rural arts as well as profiles of pertinent projects. It will also include reviews of topical exhibitions and site-specific projects.

In this first issue (February 2010), writer and poet Alice Lyons comments on the limitations of centralised discourses on art. Artist Dominic Stevens provides a darkly humorous comic strip. Poet Jo Slade’s poem ‘Neutral’ amplifies the publication along with Christina Peppard’s one hundred words on ‘Rural’. There is a sincere effort here to, in Alice Lyon’s words, transcend the ‘obdurate, insidious boundary,’ to search for an alternative to hegemonic discourse. The idea of a ‘community only becoming legitimate when it questions its own legitimacy’ is of interest to all the writers, artists and poets here concerned with questions of authenticity and legitimacy.

Also in this issue, writer and public art co-ordinator for Mayo County Council Gaynor Seville gives a local authority perspective on public art, while Director of The Irish Film Institute Sarah Glennie asks the pertinent question: ‘What do we really need from Public Art?’ Littoral, the non-profit making arts trust rethinks critical art practice in the context of EU agriculture reform and rural development policy while writer and academic Tim Stott ponders the realities of remote learning.

Dr Suzanne O’Shea, Chairperson Editorial Panel, Verge, and Head of the Creative Arts Department, GMIT, says “Verge” is a timely intervention in terms of creative discourse around notions of urban and rural in visual contexts. Deirdre O’ Mahony, John Langan, John Mulloy and Eileen Healy, all lecturers in the Department of Creative Arts in GMIT, are involved in site specific projects on rural themes.”

Verge was launched in the Café Foyer of GMIT’s Dublin Road campus by Dr. Siun Hanrahan, Head of Research & Postgraduate Study at NCAD. Mary Cloake, Director of The Arts Council of Ireland also spoke at the event

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