17 Aug 2022

Art exhibitions among the highlights of Vintage Week & Arts Festival

Art exhibitions among the highlights of Vintage Week & Arts Festival

Migration will be exhibited at The Courthouse Yard during Vintage Week.

IN recent years, art exhibitions have becme a major feature of Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival and 2022 will be no different with a series of excellent exhibitions in display around the town.

Details of these exhibitions are outlined below.


Since February 24, the eyes of the whole world have been turned towards Ukraine, which was brutally attacked by Russia on that date. The UN Refugee Agency reported in early May that more than 6 million Ukrainian citizens have already fled their homeland to other countries, attempting to escape from the war.

The history of the world is the history of migration; and this is a phenomenon which increasingly affects each of us, in almost every corner of the Earth. People migrate for many reasons, some in search of peace and security, and others to earn more money and live better lives.

Often individuals and families are forced to move due to political and economic pressures and instability, and unfortunately as we see more often these days, a deteriorating climate.

Others simply go on the road because they are seeking out themselves and their place on this earth.

Nor is migration a uniquely human phenomenon, as it can be found throughout nature in the plant and animal kingdoms. Some birds can travel up to ten thousand kilometres in a year, and a single dandelion seed will be carried on the wind for several kilometres! All in service of survival, exploration, and a better life.

The topic of migration is as broad as it is interesting, and it touches every living being; this surely encourages a timely investigation and reflection.

Twin exhibitions in both Ireland and Poland will draw together collage artists from different countries and cultures, asking them to approach to the topic of "migration" and reflect on it through their artistic practice. The works will be presented during the 54th Vintage Week and the Arts Festival (Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival) in Birr, Ireland, on July 29th August 7th, 2022, and simultaneously at the Praga Cultural Centre in Praga-Północ in Warsaw. Both exhibitions will be outdoor in the open air, as we want as many people as possible to see them.

Collage is a process of fragmentation and recombination, pieces are separated from their original images, finding their way from different places to make up something new and beautiful. In this way Collage is both an apt technique and an accurate metaphor for the experience of migration.

When we think in this way we realise that through migratory processes our countries and communities themselves are constantly evolving Collages of experience.

If we dare to look deeply enough we realise that we are each a Collage of experience. For those of us who live with migrants, and those of us who have migrated – either geographically or within our imaginations. We rise to new problems, and new challenges. We learn, we grow, we ask questions. “What does it mean to be at home?”, “What does it mean to be a stranger?”, “What does the word 'homeland' mean?”.

Random elements appear in our lives from which we build meanings. Like in a collage. And from here it is only a step to the migration that each of us takes after all. Migrating inside ourselves. This is a one-of-a-kind, most personal journey.

The curator of the exhibition is Marta Janik. The exhibition is supported by The Arts Council of Ireland, Creative Ireland Program and Offaly County Council.
As part of this project we invited an artist from Ukraine (Yuliia Fareniuk) to come to Birr for the duration of the festival, and who will conduct workshops with the town's residents, joining with the people of the town and sharing the experience of creating a collage mural with them somewhere in in the town environment.


The Courthouse Yard

Yuliia Farenyuk aka xлоя is a young Ukrainian artist and is part of the Kyiv Collage Collective and will be working alongside other visiting collage artists to help create the interactive Art Wall that will grow throughout the week. Pop in and add your voice through workshops and drop-in sessions facilitated by Yuliia and the other visiting artists. Since the war started in Ukraine, she found shelter in Ireland where she is currently based with her family.


The Courthouse Yard

A series of colourful flags based on elements taken from the Macregol Gospels combined with images representing different aspects of the town identified by the people of Birr and translated by Naomi Mooney McArdle.


The Courthouse Yard

London based, Italian artist Cristina Ottonello in collaboration with young people on the Ashbrook, Chesterfield Close and McAuley estates in Birr have created an art installation that explores and highlights local plants and their usefulness. Participants through a period of creative research have learned about the extraordinary characteristics of local plants, and how these plants have and can inspire innovation and creativity, such as the Sundew Drosera rotundifolia and Bladderwort Utricularia vulgaris.

The botanical characteristics/components that have biomimetic and adaptation features are creatively replicated/reinterpreted through crafting processes, and include reusable and repurposed materials. These specific features will be magnified in scale to explore the textures, shapes and unique elements to their botanical structure. The resulting installation will not be exact botanical replicas of the original plants.

This is a Birr Theatre & Arts Centre project supported by the Creative Ireland Programme in partnership with Offaly Local Development Company, curated by Ann Lawlor.

JJ Kinhan: World-Record Breaking Cycling Legend

The Courthouse Yard

A Cruinniú na nÓg project by Clareen National School with Yvonne Claffey celebrating the World Record Breaking cyclist J.J. Kinahan. Download the Artivive app to see the artworks come to life.

Birr Art Group

St Brendan’s Hall

With around 17 members, Birr Art Group has been working together for many years under the guidance of Kathleen Gormley. Their new meeting place is St Brendan’s Market where they are exhibiting this year.

Pottier by Laura Angell

Masonic Hall

A Galway-based artist, originally from Sheffield, Laura’s work marries issues of status, modern femininity and feminism with contemporary global themes and distractions. Building on her previous work Potty, an installation which explored success and the need for approval and love in a digital world, Pottier asks how much of that is truly in the grasp of our own control? In this evolution of those themes, we are invited into the artist striving to control anxiety by calling forth all the charms, portents and omens wrapping them in luxe finishes and realising them using knitting, crochet and Bargello work.

Papercuts by Paul Bokslag

Masonic Hall

Paul Bokslag is a visual artist and designer from the Netherlands, based in County Kilkenny. He has completed murals, large scale papercut installations, room-filling tape drawings and twine sculptures spanning multiple floors in numerous high-profile locations nationwide. This papercut installation takes its inspiration from the Japanese concepts of Shinrin Yoku (being refreshed and invigorated by taking in the forest atmosphere through our senses) and Komorebi (the effect of sunlight streaming through layers of leaves).

The Long and Short of It

Tin Jug Studio

A collaborative exhibition of small works of text and images from visual artists, poets and story writers.

The Listening Hand

Birr Theatre & Arts Centre

Bridget Flannery, Pat Fitzpatrick, Jock Nichol , Rosemarie Langtry

“You wish to see; listen” (St. Bernard of Ciairvaux, 12th Century).

This exhibition brings together the work of these four artists who take their inspiration from experiencing the landscape through different media. Every seemingly instantaneous mark or surface is underpinned by years of looking, listening, reflecting and making, to see beyond the outward appearance and allowing the natural World to speak through their work.

Annual Open Submission Exhibition

Oxmantown National School

Curated by Julie Spollen

We are thrilled to leave the online world and host this exhibition in the lovely Oxmantown National School Hall. Julie holds an MA from the Royal College of Art and works in community and care settings in Offaly. She is an advocate for arts that nourish society focusing specifically on artistic interactions working with older participants.

Portals by Tina Claffey

Copper Tree Gallery, Birr Castle

Tina has a unique perspective of the flora and fauna of the unspoilt raised bogs and wet woodlands of the Irish midlands. Bogs are magical places that defy any distinction between land and water. They are the last true wildernesses in Western Europe and are home to extraordinary plant and animal species that have adapted in this unique environment to survive. This exhibition of macro photographs is taken from Tina’s new book Portals.

​This exhibition will be officially opened on Monday August 1st at 6pm. All welcome!

Between the Sights and the Sea

Birr Technology Centre | Enterprise Units

Curated by Maeve Mulrennan

20 works from across Ireland, inspired by Seamus Heaney’s celebrated poem Bogland. His poem considers the bog’s ability to preserve and hide and identity and creativity to our relationship with our boglands. In 2022, our boglands are a site of conflict, building on centuries of conflict preserved in the peat- like chrysalises. Maeve is a Visual Arts Curator and is Assistant Arts Officer with Cork County Council.

Artists at Work

Birr Technology Centre | Enterprise Units

Visit the pop-up studio throughout the week.

John Gillen is the recipient of the Pauline Bewick Bursary. He works in watercolours and has an established client base for his detailed work.

Eamonn Byrne’s main focus is portraiture, working in oils and acrylic.

Katerina Hayden enjoys creating a story through her paintings in both watercolour and acrylic and has exhibited extensively.

Birr Creatives ‘TeaTime’

Birr Technology Centre | Enterprise Units

An assortment of crafts on display by the newly formed Birr Creatives, using needlework, fabric and papercrafts, mosaic, glass, paints, loom work etc. The Group meet in the library every Wednesday at 6.30pm. Birr Creatives brings together those who enjoy using their skills to design/make objects, beautiful, useful or both!

Local Artists

Birr Technology Centre | Enterprise Units

Sorrel Lambton, Aneta Komendera, Emma Mulrooney, Frank Gallagher, Wiltrud Dull.


Birr Technology Centre | Enterprise Units

An exhibition of Graduates of LSAD from the past two years with connections to the Midlands. Finn Nichol was awarded the RDS Taylor Art Award in 2021, presented to the most promising arts graduate in the country and this group includes artists longlisted for these prestigious awards. Day Magee is a performance- centred multimedia artist based in Dublin. Since 2011, they have performed as part of live-art organisations such as Livestock and the Dublin Live Art Festival. They will present a performance on Saturday July 30th at 1pm at Birr Technology Centre.

Emma Behan, Day Magee, Finn Nichol, Maeve Beouf Smith, Ellen Rose Wallace, Adele Passas, Francesca Hutchinson.

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