Orla Barry | Form is Destroyed | 2012 | One of a series of 9 hand-felted text works made of raw shearling Zwartbles wool sourced from Marilyn, Patsy, Iris and Ivy. | Approx. 80 x 120 cm
For Culture Night 2021 the Arts Council will continue its proud tradition of showcasing a selection of works recently added to its extensive Visual Art Collection. The Arts Council Collection established in 1962 and comprising over 1,250 works of modern
and contemporary Irish art.
The works on show from the Collection showcase the Arts Councils ongoing commitment to purchasing excellent and ambitious works of art which reflect the excellent standard of contemporary Irish visual arts practice and which both engage with and represent
As this year it will not be possible to welcome audiences to share these works in person at the Arts Council’s buildings in Dublin as we usually would, we have invited a few of the Collection’s most recently acquired artists to give some insight on their
works and practice.
For Culture Night 2021 we will celebrate the Arts Council Collection’s continuing history of purchasing ambitious work that engages with and reflects contemporary Irish society by highlighting works by artists Orla Barry, Cecilia Danell, Mandy O’Neill,
Rajinder Singh, which have been added to the Collection in the past year.
Here, Orla Barry tells us more about her featured artwork, her practice and what it means to have her work included as part of the Arts Council Collection.
Explore this and more from the Arts Council Collection at instagram.com/artscouncilireland/
There was something political for me about making these felt works from scratch. The physical labour of work of times past. Repetitive gestures of shearing, washing, carding, and felting raw wool from my own sheep with my owns hands. Creating value where
there is none. Creating value through time spent.
Giving wool a voice: speaking in dark dystopian tones.
These were the first works I made after I moved back to Ireland from Brussels. The shearling felt series are directly inspired by the farm and the animals I am still working with and learning from.
It has been a long road, ten years long now. From felting to farming to genetics and livestock showing: a perennial labour of love, adopting the past to understand a way to the future. An on-going autoethnographic study.
I can make psychological artefacts from wool, but I am doing this to draw attention to the material itself. A rhetorical gesture? Am I a blind and terrified guide?
Sheep were breed and genetically selected for their wool, that’s why they look like they do. Wool, a beautiful, highly valued material has become a worthless by-product. My own wool from 2020 and 2021 is till stored in a shed on the farm because it’s
worth would not cover the work of the shearer.
It’s the real metaphorical pile.
Can the family farm survive in Ireland? Can nature survive with it? How can city folk support farmers directly? How can farmers with a creative voice influence the industry? Can young farmers do things differently? Work in harmony with nature? Give something
back and still survive? Keep it smallish and ethical and still survive? Keep it ecological and still survive? Look how farmers are struggling. What a moral dilemma we are all in? And how it all matters now...
— Orla Barry
Since 1962, the Arts Council has been buying art from working artists. The Collection that evolved tells the story of modern and contemporary Irish visual art in a unique and fascinating way. Today the Collection continues to grow and its more than 1,250
paintings, sculptures and other works are on display in public spaces all over Ireland for people to experience and enjoy first hand. You can find out more at: www.artscouncil.emuseum.com