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Burren College of Art to Host Ground Up Exhibition

Clare Champion, Friday, 29th August 2008

Ballyvaughan's Burren College of Art is set to host a major exhibition, entitled Ground Up - re-considering contemporary art practice in the rural context next month.

According to the team behind the exhibition, the Arts Office of Clare County Council initiated Ground Up as a way of fostering a new type of engagement between public art and rural contexts as they noticed that while the majority of artists living in Clare resided in a rural setting, the arts were mostly taking place in urban locations.

As well as a desire to generate debate and disucssion amongst practitioners and the rural constituency, Ground Up sets out to fulfil a number of other objectives, such as creating opportunities for artists to make interesting, challenging artworks where they live, independent of the gallery system, and to create opportunities for artists to inspire one another and to interact with national / international practitioners.

There were three distinct strands to the project, Ground Up 1, In Under Over Out and Rural Vernacular. In the first two strands, a team of artists combining a range of disciplines were invited to participate in a 'research' or process stage which was envisaged as a way of examining received values about rural contexts and culture. The artists were asked to meet regularly for the purpose of working collaboratively to identify the significant forces at work on rural culture and society. A number of temporary artworks in rural contexts were then commissioned from each strand.

The third strand had an international dimension with artists from Russia, Hungary, Switzerland, Ireland and England participating. Each of these artists worked with a local artist as their assistant which allowed the partnership to provide invaluable local information to selected artists and gave local artists a chance to work with internationally established artists.

As a result of Ground Up's research stages a number of pivotal issues were identified. The team established that we live essentially in a post-agricultural society, with the 'rural' a contested zone under enormous pressure and that art could pioneer new approaches to the tensions, creating room for discussion about innovative solutions. They found that the audience in rural contexts is unlikely to be made up of specialist interest groups as is often true of urban contexts, but is more likely to be an aggregate.

The research also established that artworks located in rural contexts should be seen as a part of a dialogue between artists and communitites but for this to work the community's responses need to be recorded and fed back into the dialogue process.

The artists participating in the current exhibition include Vladimir Arkhipov, Amanda Dunsmore, Maria Finucane, Paul Forder, Patricia Hurl, Tamas Kaszas, Maria Kerin, Aileen Lambert, John Langan, Fiona O'Dwyer, Deirdre O'Mahony, Áine Philips, Therry Rudin, Seán Taylor, Vince Wall and Fiona Woods. The exhibition's essays were completed by Maja and Reuben Fowkes, Matthew Lennon, Siobhan Mulcahy, Alan Phelan and Fiona Woods.

The exhibition, edited by Fiona Woods, will be launched in the Ballyvaughan College of Art on Wednesday, September 17th, 2008 at 6.30pm.

For more information, please contact the college on 065-7077200 or email anna@burrencollege.ie.

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