Following a phenomenally successful inaugural year, Dublin Gallery Weekend
What caused you to set up Dublin Gallery Weekend?
Through my work as a curator, I have visited loads of different visual arts festivals, Biennales and art weeks around Europe and beyond. Dublin didn’t have an annual dedicated Visual Arts festival, so I thought there was a big gap there. Berlin Gallery Weekend was inspiring. Biennales and big exhibitions cost a lot of money, but a gallery weekend is something that highlights the efforts of galleries that are already working in the city, so its an easier thing to pull together.
How will this year differ from the last?
Obviously all of the exhibitions and events will be different this year! There are a huge range of exhibitions happening in all different mediums so visitors are sure to come across something interesting. Last year was our first year and it was really an experiment to see if people would enjoy attending something like this. We had a great attendance and buzz over the weekend and we hope this year it will be more cemented in peoples minds as something fun to visit and a great way to spend the weekend. Also we have more galleries involved this year.
Do you think it has been successful in drawing unlikely visitors to the city’s galleries?
I am not sure if there is such a thing as an unlikely visitor. Galleries are open to everyone and in Dublin we are lucky that all of our great galleries are free of charge. this makes the visual arts a very democratic form and people from all walks of life can and do visit. The idea is, though, to extend out a bit more of a hand of welcome to people who feel that maybe the art gallery scene is not for them or feel intimidated by it. Also, tourist visitors to the city might be very interested in visiting galleries but they just don’t know where they are located, so this event helps demystify that a little.
How do you see the festival continuing to grow in the coming years?
I hope that the word will spread and the festival will become more and more popular. Eventually it would be great to see people travel to visit Dublin and see what is happening here in the same way that people travel to visit events like Berlin Art Week or Glasgow international. It would be great if this event helped to put Dublin on the map an an international art destination. There is so much exciting and vibrant art work being made here by amazing artists and I hope that events like this will help them to gain a foothold outside of Ireland too.
How have you managed organising it from another country?
The internet is an amazing thing! Skype has been a life saver. But also I have great help from a dedicated steering committee in Dublin and our administrator Roisín Bohan who has been working on it on the ground, she is amazing!
What kind of logistics go into running something this big and far reaching?
Each gallery organises its own events so really the work is just in gathering all of the listings and co ordinating the design etc. Also there is a lot of initial work that needed to be done to access funding to pay for all of our promotional activities, the map, design, advertising, the website etc, so we put a lot of work into funding applications and got funding from Failte ireland, The Arts Council, Dublin City Council and Culture Ireland. I have had a lot of help this year from the 6 person steering committee, which is made up of representatives from various galleries as is going to rotate every year.
Can you choose a favourite between these kind of large scale projects and curating exhibitions?
Curating exhibitions is much more creative in some ways, I love working directly with artists to hep realise their vision for their work in a gallery setting, but I also really enjoy the feeling of doing something very concrete to help the visual arts in Dublin get a wider audience. I have gotten so many positive experiences over the years out of visiting galleries and getting to grips with art work which can be challenging at times. I really want share these experiences and help people to access them.
You also created the Dublin Gallery Map – how did that come about and what was the process like getting it completed?
Dublin Gallery Map and Weekend are very much linked. in fact the first idea I had was for the map, and I did an early version of it called Dublin Art Map back in 2007 when I was doing a work placement at Dublin City Council Arts office as part of my masters. Dublin, unlike most other capital cities, didn’t have a gallery map and i thought this was a bit gap. When I had the idea for Dublin Gallery Weekend, I knew we would need a map to help people find their way around the galleries and so it made sense to have one project some out of the other. Dublin gallery map is published twice yearly and one of these times is for Dublin Gallery Weekend.
How did you get involved in curation?
I studied Fine Art Painting at NCAD and after graduating I started to organise exhibitions and projects as there were very few opportunities for my friends and graduates to exhibit. I was good at it and I enjoyed it, so I did a masters in Arts Management in UCD and also got involved in running the artist run organisation Monstertruck Gallery and studios on Francis Street. I learned a lot from that and moved on to work at the NCAD Gallery as coordinator of the gallery and Temple Bar Gallery + Studios as curator.
Do you have any advice for someone who would want to get into your line of work?
I think it is important to get stuck in. If you see something that isn’t happening or have an idea to do something, its important to make it happen, not to wait around for permission. I worked on so many self initiated projects over the years and it was the best way to learn how to approach all the different aspects of my job, from curating to strategic planning and financial management. Doing self initiated projects will get your work noticed and lead to further opportunities in institutions or wherever you want to place yourself.
The Dublin art scene is ever growing; out of all the galleries and the people who work within, how do you know where to go and who to listen to?
This depends entirely on what you are interested in. Its important to visit galleries, hear artists speaking about their work, go to talks and lectures etc, most of which are free, and learn as much as you can. That way you can find out for yourself which artists, galleries and curators you can identify with best, which ones speak to your condition and which ones don’t. This is especially important for younger artists looking to get their work out there. Think about your work and what it is, and think about which gallery would be right for you. Be realistic and do your research. Find the Gallery or curator who is interested in your kind of work.