Irish Museum of Modern Art

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Back to Werk

She hasn’t missed a single Issue of WERK thus far (well, she didn’t make it to the Melbourne one, but apart from that)…Soracha Pelan Ó Treasaigh, from Dublin, is blogging for IMMA today about what makes the shows so special. She has dedicated her life to culture both high and low, and when not attending events (or watching 90s sitcoms), she works in the Irish Film Institute, with previous roles in the Dublin Theatre Festival and the Festival of World Cultures.


Jenny (one half of THISISPOPBABY) and I were working together when she and Phillip (the other half) were figuring out just what this club would be that the Abbey Theatre had agreed to let them do in the basement. And Jenny was nervous.

Jenny’s fear of starting a club night was that she would end up alone in the toilets crying while the DJ played to an empty hall – but supporting a friend wasn’t my only motivation in buying a ticket (just before it inevitably sold out!). This seemed like a chance to go to something different rather than your typical club night out in Dublin – which generally involved an ill-advised trip to any late night bar that would still serve you after midnight and you might get a (cheesy) bop out of it. So: performance and art as a club, Thisispopbaby, the Abbey Theatre = great expectations.

It came at a time when things in Dublin, and things in the arts industry had become pretty depressing; if you were lucky enough to actually have a job, and even one you actually like, you still could barely make the rent (not much has changed on that front.) The people of WERK promised to take you out of this for a spell, and create an alternative, creative, ridiculous space for you to dig out some thrift store finds from your wardrobe that you never found quite the right occasion for and let your hair down.

I had no idea what to expect – the Peacock Theatre bar I didn’t remember being all that big, or somewhere you’d want to spend an entire night in – but it really was completely transformed. Glitter and gold curtains and lights and all the rest. No space wasted. Performance in the cloakroom, in the jacks, on the drinks menu. Not half assed, and total commitment and attention to detail in order to submerge the audience in the thisispopbaby world.

It’s hard to paint a clear picture without experiencing it – and each time I’ve been it’s something different. It’s a combination of neo-cabaret, performance and then clearing the stage (or getting on the stage) and dancing the night away. My (blurry in some cases) memories are all about having a great night –  the crowd scream singing Things Can Only Get Better in unison as if we were the only people in Dublin that night, The Banana Boat Song with actions performed ala Beetlejuice led by DJ Chewy Chewerson, and then quieter moments from artists experimenting with the space – Ciaran O’Melia in his underwear singing Someone to Watch Over Me, Megan Riordan’s emo- kid rendition of LCD Soundsystem, the hilarious Rubber Bandits (before they were famous), the wonderfully talented Lisa Hannigan – and in such intimate surroundings where the boundaries between performer and audience feel non-existent. All that and then they also manage to slip in some beautifully subversive, challenging and honest moments – one in particular has stuck with me, when compére Neil Watkins performed a lip synch rendition of Michael O’Brien’s harrowing account of abuse from RTÉ’s Questions and Answers.

What makes WERK special is that it can be all at once frivolous, meaningful, wild, fun and subversive – a rare and full experience for a night on the tiles – so bring an open mind and go with it.

And of course, there’s that night it all ended up in a rave at the back of a Chinese restaurant on Parnell Street.

Soracha Pelan Ó Treasaigh July 2014

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Free Family Events at SUMMER RISING

Free Family Day’s Out at IMMA as part of SUMMER RISING: The IMMA Festival


The Irish Museum of Modern Art presents, SUMMER RISING: The IMMA Festival, with a line-up of events that invites everyone to come and enjoy a jam packed programme with something for all ages from Friday 18 July to Saturday 26 July 2014. As part of SUMMER RISING, on Saturday 19 and Saturday 26 July, IMMA presents two days of free day long activities for families to enjoy from 12noon to 5pm.

Highlights on Saturday 19 July include a workshop in decorating your own Edible Gingerbread Canvas where you can feast on your own creation; join in on an electro-pop céilí with dance duo Up and Over It; drop into our day long art workshop inspired by the Hélio Oiticica exhibition, play an instrument in our musical garden with the Trade School/Laptop Orchestra, Rocketman will lead the whole family through ways to pickle and preserve your vegetables, and watch out for our special guest Panti Bliss!

On Saturday 26 July the fun continues, the formal gardens will be alive with sounds as a series of free musical performances pop up in the lawns, with site responsive performances by Seán Mac Erlaine, The BQ Trio, Roland Gomez and rock and pop covers choir The Line Up, and an interactive installation Wow&Flutter by Jimmy Eadie. Join in on our foodie workshops butter making with Imen McDonnell of Modern Farmette, fish smoking with Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery, and learn how to forage for Irish seaweed with Sally McKenna.

Taking place in IMMA’s beautiful gardens and historic North Wing, in celebration of the much anticipated exhibition Propositions by Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica, SUMMER RISING promises to be a joyous celebration of art, music, food, and performance.

Highlights for families at SUMMER RISING include:

The Garden Rising, Saturday 19 July, 12noon – 5pm

12noon onwardsEdible Canvas workshop
Families can choose to feast on their own artistic gingerbread creations after drawing with icing, inspired by images of Hélio Oiticica costumes.

12noon onwards: Day long family art workshop

Make your own colourful art inspired by the Hélio Oiticica exhibition.

12noon onwards: Trade School/Lap top Orchestra create a Musical Garden
Using the hedgerows and pathways in the formal garden as instruments which you are invited to “play”.

2:00 – 3:00pm: Join in with dance duo Up and Over It in the formal garden as they continue to stretch the concept of Irish dancing to its limits, including electro-pop, alternative percussion, and contemporary dance in the mix.

2pm – 3.30pm: Pickling workshop with Rocketman
Jack Crotty from Cork will lead the whole family through ways to pickle and preserve your vegetables. Booking required, email

The Garden Rising, Saturday 26 July, 12noon – 5.00pm

12noon onwards: Free musical performances will pop up throughout the day in IMMA’s formal gardens, with site responsive performances by Seán Mac Erlaine, The BQ Trio, Roland Gomez and rock and pop covers choir The Line Up. Also presenting an interactive installationWow&Flutter by Jimmy Eadie. Just come along and enjoy the music.

12noon onwards: Day long family art workshop 
Make your own colourful art inspired by the Hélio Oiticica exhibition.

12noon – 1.30pmButter making workshop with Imen McDonnell
Imen, or as she is better known Modern Farmette, married an Irish farmer and moved from New York to the farm where she has made butter ever since. She will talk you through making your own using milk from her dairy herd. Booking required, email

1.30pm -3pmUsing Irish seaweed with Sally McKenna
Sally will talk us through of the ways to forage and collect the seaweed that lines our shores. They will also introduce ways of cooking and incorporating this nutritious ingredient it into our diet. Booking required, email

3.30pm -5pmFish smoking workshop with Sally Barnes

Sally will teach you how to creating a biscuit tin smoker and smoke fish caught in the West of Cork. Booking required, email

Midweek Events for Families:

Mornings at the Museum
Wednesday and Thursday, 10am – 11am

Free family workshop where where children and parents can explore artworks and making art together.

Babies in Buggies, Parents with Prams
Fridays, 10:45am – 11:30am
Join us for a free tour of selected exhibitions.

Visit for a full list of events and for further details. We hope to see you there!

SUMMER RISING will open up our gardens and grounds with day and night time events and is made possible by the OPW Per Cent for Art Scheme.

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SUMMER RISING Music by Aoife Flynn

IMMA’s new festival SUMMER RISING incorporates food, art, music, film, workshops, performance, gardens and more over two weeks of activities for all ages taking place all around the IMMA site. Music curator Aoife Flynn talks about her highlights and what to expect from both the daytime GARDEN RISING and night-time SUMMER PARTY music programmes on Saturday 26th July, 2014.

SUMMER RISING is a new approach for IMMA allowing for a huge amount of collaboration, while also providing a new way of looking at, and experiencing, the entirety of the IMMA site at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. There’s a spirit of exploration and discovery inherent in the project, not only in a physical and spatial dimension but also in a sensory one, where audiences get to have their have their eyes, ears and taste buds opened to new experiences over the two weeks.

The major summer exhibition at IMMA is Propositions by the late Brazilian artist Helio Oiticia, and his concern with colour, movement, immersive experience, community, interaction, performance, and the desire to bring the audience into the work have all been key jumping off points for the music programme. I’m particularly interested in Oiticica’s relationship to audience; how the work is triggered by the audience, and only really exists within this interaction of the audience. A key focus is to create spaces of immersion and surprise that will transport the audience and make them reflect on the specific situation of the performance, an aspect of the site at IMMA. Oiticicia’s work is also particularly focused on being accessible to the public, and dissolving any intellectual, social or cultural barriers to engagement. The music programme, and SUMMER RISING as a whole, echoes this concern by encompassing a mixture of free public pop-up events during the daytime, and more formal ticketed events at night.

Daytime Music: GARDEN RISING, from 12pm

I’ve selected five very special artists to work with on the Garden Rising, all of who will respond to the site, or the audience…or both, with a combination of live and installed sound work.

Running all day and night in the heritage rooms of the North Range, you can experience a beautiful interactive work by Jimmy Eadie called Wow&Flutter. Played on acetate lacquers over eight vintage turntables, this work features two compositions that the visitor can control – choosing which side, which speed and where on the track each turntable should begin, thus allowing you to directly manipulate the sound and create your own unique listening experience.

In the Formal Gardens we have four live performances, each about 30mins in length, popping up in the enclosed lawns at the end of the gardens over the course of the day. These lawns are like hidden outdoor rooms, each enclosed by 7ft hedges calling to mind The Secret Garden. When you’re on the terrace or upper lawns they’re hidden from view, but if you venture into the gardens, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful music from Seán Mac Erlaine, The BQ Trio, The Line Up choir and Roland Gomez. Visitors are able to follow the sounds…and other listeners disappearing into the Gardens.

Seán is performing an improvised, site-specific piece for chalumeau and gongs; The BQ Trio bring their minimalist country disco and their 4-handed guitarist for some harmonic tunes; the twenty-strong Line Up Choir will bring their pop and soul favourites to IMMA for some sunny sing-a-longs and Roland is playing on the Integral Hang, a very unique instrument hand crafted by Pan-Art in Switzerland that makes a beautiful otherworldly sound.



Roland Gomez

The music on the day is complimented by foodie treats from Concrete Tiki’s The Cake Café (€20, book here). There is also Open studios with IMMA’s resident artists and free food workshops: pickling with The Rocket Man, fish smoking with Sally Barnes, butter making with McNally Family Farm and an edible canvas workshop for children.


As day turns to night we move towards the grand suite of heritage rooms in the North Range for music, food, bespoke cocktails and a specially commissioned edition of GRACELANDS, featuring artists’ film and interventions in the formal Gardens.

Tickets for the SUMMER PARTY, which runs from 7.30pm, are €15 and special food and drink will be available to purchase on the night from House and Luncheonette. The idea is to come early, explore Propositions, the Helio Oiticia exhibition (open from 7pm – 8pm) grab some food and explore the music and other art happenings on offer.

The magnificent Baroque Chapel, with its oak panelled walls and moulded plaster ceiling, plays host to live sets from Somerville and Gang Colours and is rounded off with a two-hour closing set from legendary DJ Donal Dineen.



Somerville creates experimental music influenced by the rugged and barren landscapes of her native Connemara on Ireland’s west coast. From the small Gaeltacht village of Corr na Móna, Maria Somerville’s music contains folk roots and electronic textures. Inspired from an early age by her late uncle Michael, hearing him sing at family gatherings and local sessions. It was a haunting and enchanting experience, and she noticed how the adults around her seemed to get lost in both his voice and the depth of meaning in the song. The lyrics of these old songs, like the Rocks of Bawn or the Lambs on the Green Hill, evoke poignant memories of place, struggle and lost loves, themes now reflected in her own lyrics. Influences are also from old civil rights anthems, soul and R&B. Her study of jazz guitar influences her writing further as these traditions began to synthesise into her current and evolving musical output. One of the State’s faces of 2014, she played a beautiful set at Drop Everything this May and her name has been carried on the western wind ever since.

As a portal into a world of daydreams, tumbling into shadows and embracing luminescence simultaneously, Gang Colours turns drum patterns into magic. Breeding surreal headphone-friendly landscapes, he fills them with unexpected sounds that would otherwise seem out of place. At times his sound effects strike a peculiar balance between otherworldly and familiarity. At other points, they conjure a sense of longing.

His impressive 2012 debut, The Keychain Collection, was followed by 2013’s Invisible in your City, both on Gilles Petersons’s Brownswood label. He might draw easy comparisons with James Blake, but this is a warmer sound, with more heart. Think Mount Kimbie with a playful sense of humour, Burial on a soft, sunny dancefloor, Gold Panda with an R&B lean.

We’ll have a DJ room operating all night with sets from Emmet Condon (Homebeat) and 11:11 and an all-vinyl set from David Kitt. Expect house, soul, hip-hop, disco, and lots of beats for dancing feet.

So come early and stay late, explore the site and explore the sights, sounds and tastes of IMMA’s SUMMER RISING. Saturday 26th July 2014, 7pm – 2am. Buy Tickets €15

Aoife has put together a youtube playlist of the music artists appearing at SUMMER RISING that you can listen to here






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Second Level Art Teacher on Bringing Students to a Museum by Rebecca Devaney

“My memories of appreciating Art before 5th year were bleak. I was endlessly dragged around galleries I did not want to be in by my parents, longing to find a Topshop nearby. The thing of most interest when I went to see a Damien Hirst exhibition was the café. But this has changed; in fact I’ve become a Contemporary Art addict.” -6th year Art student

As the quote above illustrates, engaging students with Art History and Appreciation can be challenging at times. I studied Art and Design Education at NCAD and currently teach Art at a secondary school in Dublin. Over the last four years, I have been working with Lisa Moran, Curator of Education and Community Programmes in IMMA, to develop resources for second level teachers and students. Combining the wealth of knowledge and expertise available at the museum and my teaching experience, as well as invaluable feedback from students, we have been able to design resources more suitable to the needs of second level students and teachers. It is hoped that by introducing students to Contemporary Art at an early age it will facilitate a life long engagement with Art, museums and galleries.


Leaving Certificate Art

One of the major challenges encountered by teachers and students of the Leaving Certificate Art course is the expansive nature of the syllabus. The curriculum has not been changed in many years, and it also has the lowest rate at higher level of all the Leaving Cert subjects. The practical section of the paper is worth 62.5% and the Art History and Appreciation section is worth 37.5% of the overall mark.

The Art History and Appreciation course is divided into three sections; Irish Art and Architecture from Prehistoric times to the present, European Art and Architecture from 1000AD to the present, and Art Appreciation covering Film Studies, Product Design, Interior Design and several other topics as well as Museum/Gallery Studies.

As the course is extremely broad, teachers are afforded autonomy in choosing the topics they will address in each section.



Through studying the Art History and Appreciation course it is hoped that students will gain a knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Art enabling them to engage with the visual arts as adults. Ultimately, students should have the language and with that, confidence, to describe, consider, discuss, critically analyse and form their own personal opinion of Art works from any period.

So how does a teacher go about facilitating this? Waxing lyrical about the mysterious carvings at Newgrange, the exquisite craftsmanship in the Tara Brooch, the genius of Michelangelo or the revolutionary nature of Manet and the Impressionists, does not guarantee appreciation.

Similarly, organising a trip to a museum or gallery with a Contemporary Art exhibition is often insufficient in encouraging appreciation and in the majority of cases this is due to a lack of understanding and/or language to describe conceptual Art works. An initial preparatory period of introducing the vocabulary and methodology needed to describe a piece of Art enables students to begin investigating and exploring works independently. Once these skills have been developed it is possible for students to engage with Art in the classroom, museum, gallery and their everyday environment.

“How is that Art, I/my little brother/my little sister/my dog/anyone could do that?”

Anonymous and frequent!

Patrick Scott, Small Rosc Symbol, 1967, cover image for the first Rosc in 1967

Patrick Scott, Small Rosc Symbol, 1967, cover image for the first Rosc in 1967

Accessible Language

Despite the initial reactions of indignation, students often come to enjoy Contemporary Art the most, once they have developed an understanding that the artist’s underpinning concept or intention is at times more important than the ‘finished piece.’ As the role and experience of the viewer is introduced, alongside the rare chance for expression of personal response, with the freedom of no right or wrong answers, a group of confident, engaged, art critics emerge, asking insightful questions and offering considered opinions whether they like a Contemporary Art work or not.

Accessible language has proven to be paramount in facilitating this in my experience. Students are quick to dismiss and disengage if they find a text too cumbersome and it is often the explanatory information provided by a museum, gallery or artist that is key to our understanding, engagement with and appreciation of Contemporary Art.


Developing Resources

The Leaving Certificate question on a museum or gallery visit varies from year to year but broadly speaking it asks students to describe a recent exhibition they have visited in terms of layout, lighting and display; to describe one or two of their favourite works with reference to subject matter, composition, use of colour and light, technique or medium and style; and finally to design and plan an exhibition of art works in their school using the visit as inspiration. In summary, students are asked to consider the role of the curator and how the organisation of an exhibition can enhance the viewer’s experience.

IMMA has an abundance of diverse experience and expertise at its disposal that has proven invaluable in providing the content for these resources. From the curators, to the technicians, invigilators, security staff and artists we have gathered ‘insider’ information about the particulars involved in the planning, implementation and maintenance of an exhibition.

With all this information to hand we were able to focus on designing resources that would facilitate the optimum learning and assimilation of the content. Of paramount importance is the pitch of the text as well as the layout of the material. We have been able to try out different approaches to see which ones are most successful, gather feedback from the students themselves and apply the learning to subsequent resources.


Presentation of the Material

Text is arranged under headings using succinct paragraphs, so that students may assimilate the information in manageable amounts. New vocabulary is highlighted and explained within the text as there is at times reluctance to reference dictionaries or glossaries. Images are used as much as possible to illustrate and contextualise information.


Online Availability

The resources are available to download online in PDF format, making them available nationwide.

Part 1 of each resource addresses areas for consideration when visiting any museum, gallery or exhibition.

Part 2 addresses the specific exhibition and initially outlines the role of the curator in regards to the considerations in the planning and implementation such as theme, layout, lighting, display and so on.

A brief artist’s biography is included, so as to avoid students focusing on a ‘life story’ rather than engaging with the exhibition

Themes, concepts, artist’s intention, or methodology are explained in accessible language prior to discussing the individual works.

A selection of works are chosen from each exhibition and discussed in detail using fundamental visual language as headings to arrange the information such as subject matter, composition, form, treatment of colour and light, techniques and mediums

A worksheet indicating areas for consideration whilst visiting the museum is included as well as a map of the floor plan so students may record information when they are on site

Patrick Scott, Image, Space, Light, 16 February – 18 May 2014

Eileen Gray, Architect, Designer, Painter, 12 October 2013 – 26 January 2014

Alice Maher, Becoming, 6 October 2012 – 17 February 2013

Rivane Neuenschwander, A Day Like Any Other, November 2011 – January 2012

The Moderns, October 2010 – March 2011


Going Forward

It is hoped that these resources will prove valuable tools for teachers and students in facilitating engagement with Contemporary Art, so that they may enjoy and appreciate future exhibitions in IMMA, as well as other museums and galleries.

Rebecca Devaney, Second Level Art Teacher


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Kathleen Chakraborty on Eileen Gray and Cubism

Next week is IMMA’s International Symposium on Eileen Gray.  Here, Symposium speaker Kathleen Chakraborty, Professor of Art History at UCD, discusses the shared affinities of Eileen Gray and Russian-born artist Sonia Delaunay.

International Symposium: Eileen Gray, Tue 13 May – Wed 14 May, 2014

Book Tickets here.



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