How young Irish artists are fighting the recession

Posted: February 21, 2012 in Exhibitions, Irish Art News
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With the business and banking sectors buckling under the weight of the recession, it would be understandable for young artists in Ireland to feel daunted about their future.

But people like Jennette Donnelly, an artist and graduate of the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT), are grabbing the future by the horns and are creating opportunities for themselves and their sector.

First, she set up the “Ormond Studios” on Ormond Quay in Dublin with a group of friends after her graduation in 2009 and acted as their chairperson, before leaving to launch her next venture: “Art for Art’s Sake”.

“Art for Art’s Sake” is an online space for emerging contemporary artists with links to Ireland.  The unique feature of the site is its virtual gallery, which will showcases all types of art, from painting to performance art. The site currently features art by artists Adam Gibney, Bláthnaid Ní Mhurchú, Louise Farrelly and Alan Corbett and the virtual gallery is hosting an exhibition by Meadhbh O’Connor.

Bláthnaid Ní Mhurchú, 'Dewey woz 'ere', 2011. Pencil on paper. 54cmx74cm (image courtesy of Art for Art's Sake)

Bláthnaid Ní Mhurchú, 'Dewey woz 'ere', 2011. Pencil on paper. 54cmx74cm (image courtesy of Art for Art's Sake)

“My hope is to create a platform for contemporary Irish artists to showcase and sell their work not only in Ireland but in Europe and the US,” says Jennette. “I want to raise awareness of the type of talent we have in Ireland at the moment. So far, it’s all become a lot bigger than I ever expected!”

The site also links to featured galleries which are also part of her upcoming Art Tour. The first experience of this type in Dublin to Jennette’s knowledge, the Art Tour will bring groups around a number of galleries in Dublin that have already agreed to take part, including the Copper House Gallery, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Talbot Gallery and Studios and the Gallery of Photography in Temple Bar.

And that’s just the start. Jennette hopes to expand her activities to a physical space she is yet to find, which would provide access to galleries and a teaching program for postgraduates, but also for portfolio courses at undergrad level.

Her intention is to focus on helping graduates access the practical aspects of being an artist after graduation. She hopes her program to nurture and upskill artists in an affordable manner will be accredited further down the line.

“I found that when I left college, I wasn’t really equipped to deal with all the eventualities, lack of money, handing processes such as applying for grants” she says.

The IADT called her back a few months after graduation, asking her to provide a guest lecture to students on life after college.

 “I was explaining how to fill in a grant application, do a proposal for an exhibition, how to set up a studio, little things that you have to learn as you go along,” she says.

Having also run a similar course successfully with the Ormond Studios, she intends on making this type of education a core part of her program, by providing an internship at the physical gallery so artists get to grips with the logistics of pitching and managing an exhibition.

Alan Corbett, 'South Gate Bridge, scene from Ghost of Shandon', 2011. Mixed media Illustration (image courtesy of Art for Art's Sake)

Alan Corbett, 'South Gate Bridge, scene from Ghost of Shandon', 2011. Mixed media Illustration (image courtesy of Art for Art's Sake)

“I want it to become a hub of information and a place of cross-pollination of ideas and skills, from all the various colleges,” she says. “I want artists learning from artists, artists teaching artists.”

Making art accessible is also a big priority for Jennette. She has noticed a change in artistic trends since the recession hit, with greater demand for more visual pieces.

Myra Jago, Emmy Noether, oil on canvas, 50x60cm, 2011 (image courtesy of Art for Art's Sake)

Myra Jago, Emmy Noether, oil on canvas, 50x60cm, 2011 (image courtesy of Art for Art's Sake)

“I’ve seen a huge difference even since my own graduation show, when the recession had just hit. My year showed pieces that were beautiful, but quite conceptualised and intellectual. The following year already, it was more about injecting colour and fun into the work, it was like an injection of life.”

All in all, Jennette’s project is a very open concept and she’s keen to just see where it goes.

 “Art and culture are so important right now, a recession is a time where these things are held onto tightly.”, she says. “To upskill art graduates is really important. They need to be looked after, they’re helping to steer us into what we hope will be a happier time.”

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  1. […] How young Irish artists are fighting the recession.  Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Leave a Comment by monicaheck on March 31, 2012  •  Permalink Posted in Uncategorized […]

  2. […] Jennette Donnelly, the director of Art for Art’s Sake who is currently examining this scheme as a way to access a premise for her growing venture, said that the scheme could potentially create the assistance that the art community has been […]

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