Russborough House, Blessington
Over the past three months the West Wicklow Youth Project worker and community artist Annette Woolley has worked with three groups of young people aged 12-21 from the towns of Baltinglass, Dunlavin and Blessington (Screaming Eagles, West Wicklow Whatchamacallits and Baltinglass Seniors).
They had all expressed an interest in learning about the arts as well as building positive community relations. The creative process involved an introduction to art theory and practice, National Gallery of Ireland workshop, community mapping, interviews, photo shoots and the production of three large scale mixed media collaborative art pieces plus some smaller individual works.
This is now culminating in a temporary exhibition at Russborough from March 30 until April 6. The artistic expressions reflect on the people and places past and present from the historical architecture to more recent sporting achievements, the spirit of volunteerism and entrepreneurship, culture and tourism through to the sense of pride and belonging associated with living and working on the west side of the Wicklow Mountains.
For example the Baltinglass piece represents the abbey, the ancient hilltop burial grounds, Jenny Wise Power, Michael Dwyer, the Dice Man, Rosie and Margaret community volunteers, the choir, badminton players and Gaa champions to the local Turkish barber and the list goes on.
Blessington’s exhibit includes the tidy towns, taekwondo, blacksmiths, butchers, bird of prey enthusiasts to young musicians, skater boys and the lifeboat rescue team alongside trams, churches and monuments.
Dunlavin’s piece of art expresses representations of the people who make their village what it is - “welcoming and friendly” from the green grocer and the local garda to the librarian, scout master and coder dojo volunteers to the Dunlavin dairy. It features the religious life, historical links and culture.
"We would like to thank Cruthu arts group for generously providing their gallery space until the art works can be displayed permanently in their own respective communities such as the tearooms in Baltinglass. And also the National Gallery of Ireland for providing a free workshop and tour," said the project.
The West Wicklow Youth Project is managed by Kildare Youth Service and funded by the KWETB and DCYA under the Value for Money Scheme. It works with young people identified as needing extra support in fulfilling their potential and bettering their lives by providing one to one, group work, detached service, counselling and offer a range of programmes and activities that are designed to improve their wellbeing.