Bringing it all back home marks a kind of holding pen in the history of a rich and lively collaboration between KCAT studio artists and artist friends and collaborators from far beyond Callan in the Engagement Project. What was meant to run for three-years, beginning tentatively in 2014, gathered momentum to the point where it couldn’t be restrained. That, and the interruptions of the pandemic, means that we are only now presenting the final exhibition, but it is already clear that the relationships fostered by the process will go on far beyond this moment. Many of those relationships built on or led to lasting friendships and collaborative practices between the visitors and the studio, others resulted in contacts with curators, e.g leading to Andrew Pike’s exhibition at Damer House and to a significant expansion of practice for all of the partners involved. It helped to secure places in public collections such as those of the Arts Council, the Crawford Gallery in Cork , Trinity College, Dublin and the National Self-Portrait collection at the University of Limerick for artists such as Declan Byrne, Mary Cody, Sinead Fahy and Andrew Pike (who also picked up an honorary fellowship from GMIT along the way), residencies in Belfast, Sligo and West Cork as well as Callan itself, and that is only the beginning of a process that will continue into the future.
But most of all the Engagement Project from its early beginnings with Mary Cody and Paul Mosse at Visual, Carlow, through exhibitions in Kilkenny and Clonmel, and a touring exhibition (Uilinn in West Cork, Farmleigh in Dublin, the F.E. McWilliam Gallery, Banbridge and Ballina, Ballycastle and Castlebar in County Mayo) is the story of widening creative horizons and deep friendships. And that trajectory can never be reversed.
Now it is time to wind up the Engagement Project with Bringing it all back home, the final leg of the tour begun in Summer 2019 and sadly interrupted by the Covid 19 pandemic. The artists have carried on despite the difficulties of lockdowns and this exhibition will bring the project up to date, incorporating earlier work from the tour and proudly showing the new work that has been made in the meantime. But if the Engagement Project ends here, the friendships and creative partnerships it fostered will carry on. They could not do otherwise.
Catherine Marshall, Curator; The Engagement Project, 2014 – 2021.
This Exhibition opens to the public from 22nd of July till the 15th August.