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Birr Vintage Week and Arts Festivals EMPTY COLUMNS.jpg

On Fri March 25, Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival curator and visual artist Caroline Conway in association with Birr Theatre and Arts Centre invited audiences to Empty Columns Are a Place to Dream - How to use monuments for Good and Evil with the Irish launch of the publication Empty Columns are a Place to Dream by Ric Kasini Kadour and an exhibition responding to the empty column in Emmet Square by St Brendan’s Community School 5th & 6th year art students. 


A panel discussion with historian Regina Dunne and Irish collage artists artists Una Gildea and Anthony D Kelly, and Polish collage artist Marta Janik (in-person and virtually) took place.  


The outdoor exhibition of collage artworks by 5th & 6th art year students of St Brendan’s Community School was launched at Birr Theatre & Arts Centre. The artworks responded creatively to the Cumberland Pillar  (empty column) in Emmet Square. The reimagining of the empty column by the 5th & 6th year art year students was facilitated by their art teacher Yvonne Claffey, visual artist Caroline Conway, and collage artist Una Gildea. 


The creative approach taken was inspired by the 2021 exhibition in Emmet Square as part of Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival.  Under the curation of Ric Kasini Kadour, New Orleans and with the support of the Birr Historical Society, 18 collage artists from across the world researched, discussed, and responded to the Cumberland Pillar, its history, and contemporary issues relating to place, context and past, resulting in an open air  gallery.  


The exhibition was exhibited in Emmet Square until Thurs March 31 and then relocated in The Courtyard at Birr Castle Demesne and open to the public for free until Sunday April 10. For enhanced AR viewing, simply download the Artivive app on your phone, open it and point at the artwork to see it come to life.

The book is on sale now at Birr Theatre & Arts Centre and Birr Castle and will be available online soon from Offaly History.


Empty Columns Are a Place to Dream was funded by Birr Theatre & Arts Centre and is part of the Arts Council funded Spectacular Vernacular- Making the Ordinary, Extraordinary, In the Open/Faoin Spéir programme and Offaly County Council. 


In the Open | Faoin Spéir Offaly is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland and is a collaborative partnership led by Offaly County Council’s Arts Office with Birr Theatre and Arts Centre and Birr Festivals Collective. 



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