Major touring Irish art exhibition opens in Ballina this week

ONE of the most significant exhibitions of Irish artists in recent years will be launched in Ballina Civic Offices tomorrow (Friday, January 29) as part of an extensive nationwide tour.

The exhibition – entitled 30 Years, Artists, Places – marks 30 years since local authorities embarked on providing for the arts locally, and features 30 artists and 30 places.

This is a must-see, not just for the extraordinary line-up of Irish artists who rarely find themselves curated in one room but for the stories of how they each came to be purchased, commissioned or acquired by local authorities. Therein lies the real narrative; the quiet, genuine and imaginative support for Irish artists demonstrated by local government for the past 30 years.

Catherine Marshall, formerly of IMMA, writes in the accompanying catalogue: “Arts officers went quietly about their work, not heads of smart new venues, not curators of major festivals, not heads of glamorous collections but the real harbingers of the kind of change that empowers and transforms a society.”

At the heart of all this work are artists, and featuring in the exhibition are renowned names such as Tony O’Malley, Robert Ballagh, John Kindness, Norah McGuiness, Sean McSweeney, Sean Lynch, John Shinnors, Julie Merriman, David Stephenson and many others.

Included among the 30 pieces of art are The Unknown World (2012) by Jenny Brady from the Mayo County Council collection and The Snail Chronicles (Bedtime) (2005) by Mayo-based artist Alice Maher.

The collection speaks of places, people and home, which reflects upon local authority arts development as just that - of a place and of a people, of rural and urban Ireland, of home in a changing island where we are bold with new ideas but rooted in our past.

This touring exhibition, which is being funded by the Arts Council, is the first real public telling of this story. The exhibition will tour well into 2017. Following its showing in Ballina, it will travel to the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny.

30 Years, Artists, Places was curated by Muireann Ní Chonaill, Laois arts officer, and will be officially opened at 8 p.m. tomorrow (Friday) evening. The exhibition will run until February 26. Admission is free and all are welcome. For more information, contact Ballina Arts Centre on (096) 73593 or log on to