Des Kenny Visits Incubate Artist Studio – Ella Bertilsson and Ulla Juske

January 4, 2018

The Incubation studio residency is an initiative by Draíocht, offering recent art graduates studio space and support while creating new work. After graduation the sustaining assistance college offered disappears and the next step towards an art world career can prove daunting. The provision of studio and auxiliary services by Draíocht help alleviate the loss of the college support base while allowing young artists time to formulate new strategies that counter this disadvantage.

Ella Bertilsson and Ulla Juske are recent recipients of the Incubation residency. The two artists met while completing their masters degree in NCAD. In that hothouse atmosphere of inquiry and research they discovered a common outlook and decided upon leaving college to collaborate in making art. It was a cold wet morning in December when I made a studio visit in Draíocht and the beckoning warmth of the studio was welcome. Casting a casual eye around the unadorned space, that showed little evidence of artistic output except for the residual marks on floors and walls of previous occupants.  I apprehensively wondered where a conversation on their art would lead. My pressing sense of anxiety dissipated as it soon became apparent that their work and art practice was stored on a laptop. I was invited to sit and watch videos of completed projects that demonstrated a broad range of subject matter and artistic presentation.

Their work explores ideas surrounding identity, community and social history and creating narratives which combine these themes to a site specific installation. The discovery of a large chest on a Dublin street containing dispossessed belongings of an unidentified individual led to creating a work that reflected upon the connection between a hidden personal biography and  objects that contain the complex history of a personality. The contents of the chest were displayed like museum artefacts in a transit van situated in the Tree Line Project installed in a park beside Foley Street. They called the exhibition “The Museum of The Unknown Person” and they hoped visitors from the locality would recognise the owner of the chest and unveil the mystery of a forgotten life. A disenfranchised history of the unknown person is reconfigured, when what is lost is found to have a relevance to the viewer’s life.

While in Reykjavik on a three month residency with the Association of Icelandic Visual Artists the two artists developed audio work around the theme of time as understood by amateur astronomers and professional astrophysicists. The recorded conversations do not display a hieratical distinction between professional and amateur but blend their points of view into a unified meditation on how humanity finds a place in a universe governed by time which appears unending. These interviews were situated in a large glass enclosure called the Nordic house near a lake. Visitors listened to the recordings on the immensity of the universe while observing the snow filled stark landscape of Iceland. The audience feels momentarily anchored in a motionless landscape yet understanding they are moving through space and time in an unstoppable indifferent universe. Driven by wonder our imagination expands to comprehend our place in this infinite cosmic journey.

During their residency in Draíocht they worked with various groups that have an affinity with the locality. They were invited to talk about themselves and their community. The local youth theatre was asked to respond to questions and their answers were superimposed over veiled curtains found in houses in the immediate area. This is an ongoing project and may be included in a group event scheduled in Draíocht for 2018. 

After the Draíocht residency the artists are participating in similar opportunities in Norway and Estonia. These two artists not only collaborate but wander this floating earth together and quietly allow each destination inform their art.


Ella Bertilsson and Ulla Juske - Studio Incubation Award 31 October – 22 December 2017

Ella Bertilsson and Ulla Juske are a Swedish-Estonian visual artist collective based in Dublin. They produce site-specific audio-installations about the relationship between time and memory; place and identity. They are interested in gathering narratives which explore the boundary of fact and fiction in relation to specific communities or places. During their Incubate Residency, Ella and Ulla invited people who live and work in Blanchardstown into their studio to share stories of their profession/job, their place of work and the memories that it triggers.


Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.

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Early Bird New Season Offers - Book Before 06 January 2018

December 20, 2017

Be an early bird and book before 06 January for these New Season shows and get these great discounts!

The Time Machine / Dyad Productions
TUE 06 FEB  8PM 
Full price: €18 / Early Bird: €15

Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me
TUE 27 & WED 28 FEB  8PM 
Full price: €18 / Early Bird: €15

The Legend of Luke Kelly
FRI 16 MAR  8PM   
Full price: €20 / Early Bird: €17

Take Off Your Cornflakes
FRI 23 MAR  8PM  
Full price: €18 / Early Bird: €15

Evil Under The Sun
WED 28 MAR  7.30PM 
Full price: €7.50 / Early Bird: €5

Tickets must be paid in full before 06 January to avail of these Early Bird Offers.
A maximum of 6 tickets can be bought at these prices per person.
Not applicable to group bookings.
BOX OFFICE 01 885 2622
or Book Online

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By Draíocht. Tags: Early Bird,

Des Kenny Reviews – Yvonne McGuinness ‘Holding ground where the wood lands’

December 18, 2017

Yvonne McGuiness is the latest recipient of the Amharc Fine Gall award which is coordinated by Fingal Arts Office to promote artists who reside in Fingal. The artist utilises various disciplines in her broad based practice to explore the lives of teenage boys approaching the cusp of manhood. In a corner of Draíocht ground floor gallery a split video projection shimmers life on a blank wall. The two projections present the same integrated storyline but the corner of the gallery wall acts as a border separating the timeline and sequence of similar events while remaining within eye line of the viewer. The sequential shift of the two projections does not fragment or disrupt the thread of the plot but recompose additional layers of interpretation in a quiet unobtrusive manner.

The opening shot captures a hooded crow casting a glazed predatory eye over playing fields as seagulls scramble for worms in the sodden earth. The distinctive call of a peacock flares through the air from adjoining fields. The camera scans the scrubland for this exotic bird when the screen unexpectantly presents the face of a young man. He opens his mouth and emits the plaintiff cry of the peacock. This inexplicable occurrence creates a surreal atmosphere for the all the other actions which take place in the film. Catching the viewer off guard, momentarily disrupting a linear perception to the storyline, liberates the viewers imagination from a predetermined outlook towards the film. The actor appears to shift off script as if driven by an internal force outside his control, hooking the viewer’s attention to remain alert for the unexpected.

We see a group of youths wander aimlessly through a wooded land emitting suppressed screams, announcing their presence to an echoless forest. The primal scream frees the group from innate restraints that would inhibit the internal kindling of transforming spontaneity which may unearth new truths about themselves.  A sapling is dug up and carried with them on their journey while a provocative blue line is painted on a grass verge. Acts that appear irrational and incomprehensible early in the film have a reflective and restorative implication as the narrative unfolds towards the films conclusion. In the black night the youths discover by torchlight the blue line painted earlier in the day and replant the sapling. The elemental desire to belong to the natural world at times requires a ritualistic enactment of connectivity even if it is an unconscious transaction. It is uncertain if these young men are aware of the ceremonial nature of these activities and the primal impulse that influences their actions.

Away from the constraints of suburban life they set up a rudimentary camp, hanging long strips of cloth from branches and gather firewood. They add to graffiti on a wall with the proclamation “Begin Again” no doubt wishing to supplant old conceptions of society with a new understanding of the world they inhabit. Sitting around the campfire as the darkness surrounds them, they try to formulate a wording that explains their current existence and what the future might promise. As they search for words that explore and reposition their desire to find meaning in a life as yet unburdened by responsibility, they inexplicably howl at the darkness. Perhaps this animalistic incantation is a deep rooted need not to wholly surrender to a rational structure found within the confines of language. Nevertheless their use of language holds sway and has a poetic resonance that rises and ebbs with the flittering flames of the camp fire. Words and flames combine to keep the untouchable darkness at bay both within themselves and the outer forces of remorseless reality.

Putting on lifejackets and armed with torches they leave the security of the camp fire and are absorbed by the dark shadows of the night. In time they discover the blue line painted earlier on the grass and replant the sapling that was removed from the nourishing earth. In unison they cry out “Begin Again” and move off towards the twinkling lights of civilisation. This simple decree for the youthful group of men if cramped by life’s woes you can always start afresh.

Around the gallery floor are video screens embedded in logs depicting a boy half hidden behind a tree. The only discernible movement on the screen is the flickering motion of the boy’s eyelid. Gouged into the trees bark is an eye shaped form which substitutes and replaces the function of the eye hidden behind the tree trunk. The youth is part of nature and not beyond its influence. When we forget to recognise the need for initiation rites that bring nature closer to society we create a more impoverished culture. Thick black electric cables meander like pathways through the wooden stumps on the gallery floor. While acting as a conduit for electricity to the video monitors they also lead the eye to the wall caption where bold black letters describe the youthful activity of the young actors in the film.

This is a demanding show for the spectator since it takes time to absorb the unimposing subtleties found embedded in all the shows varied components but it is an opportunity justly rewarded as we get  a deeper understanding of the lives of young men  and their need to create rites of passage as manhood approaches.


Yvonne McGuinness – Amharc Fhine Gall 11th Edition 
Wed 22 Nov – Sat 03 Feb 2018 
Ground Floor Gallery, Draíocht Blanchardstown


Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Artist Interview, Desmond Kenny, Yvonne McGuinness,

Home Theatre Ireland - Free Info Session With Veronica Coburn

November 17, 2017

Would you like a play to be written inspired by your story, your area, your family and then PERFORMED IN YOUR HOME for a group of your guests?? ... Register now for a FREE INFO SESSION here in Draiocht on Sat 25th November 2pm about 'Home Theatre Ireland', taking place in 2018 ... Come along and we'll tell you all about it ... Ph Box Office Now to book a free place 01-8852622 ...

HOME THEATRE(IRELAND) is an ambitious, large scale and innovative way of making theatre that breaks down borders between artist and audience, arts infrastructure and the public. It will pair 40 leading playwrights/theatre-makers with 30 community hosts. We will ask them to spend time together in the host’s home to chat and talk, about what is important to them, about what they hope for and fear, about what makes them laugh, after which the artists will write an original play inspired by the host and performed in the host’s own home to an invited audience. All 30 plays will be simultaneously performed across Dublin 15, on one night (6th October 2018) and a selection of the plays will be performed in Draíocht over 4 nights (10th to 13th October 2018).  

Draíocht is seeking 30 home hosts across all of Dublin 15 that will work with us on this Project. It doesn’t matter if you live in a big house or a little house, an apartment, out on your own or in a housing estate. It doesn’t matter if you live alone or with a few people or with lots of people. If you are interested in meeting with an artist, having a conversation with them with a view to hosting 3 performances of the 20 minute piece in your home on October 6th 2018, then we want to hear from you. The performances will be at 5pm, 7pm and 9pm and will be for an audience size dictated by your home. We will work with you to decide who those audience members are and we will support you with volunteer staff on the night. The participating homes will be confirmed in March 2018 and will be visited by Draíocht at that point.

Perhaps you would like to get involved in a different way? We are also looking for Community Ambasador’s who will partner with one host/home and act as a support to them. You will be their point of contact and be present for the visit and discussion between playwright/theatre maker and host. On the night of the performance, the Ambassador will be present for all three performances (5pm, 7pm, 9pm) and will be the HOME THEATRE (IRELAND) representative. The Community Ambassadors will be supported by Draíocht staff.

If you are interested in getting involved as a Host or as a Community Ambassador, there will be a FREE Information Session with Veronica Coburn, that will take place on Saturday 25 November at 2pm in Draiocht where you can learn more about the project. If you are interested, please book a free place at the Info Session now with Box Office, tel 01-8852622.

This project was awarded a grant through The Arts Council’s Open Call Fund. We want to both acknowledge and thank them for their support.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Home Theatre Ireland, Veronica Coburn,

Des Kenny Reviews The Weight Of Water – Elaine Hoey

November 13, 2017

Our Arty Blogger is back! Des Kenny Reviews 'The Weight of Water' by Elaine Hoey ...

A four sided metal cage with serrated barbed wire stands starkly silhouetted against the autumnal light flooding into the Ground Floor Gallery space of Draíocht. The light shimmers along the inflexible framework as it marks out the compounded claustrophobic structure. The visitor enters into a restrictive hard edged enclosure through a sharply cut rectangular slot where a swivel stool awaits an occupant as if for interrogation.  The sculptural presence is a formal device in which Elaine Hoey’s work titled “The Weight Of Water” explores the plight of people caught in the current refugee crises across Europe. The visitor is hemmed in and movement restricted within the barricaded cage, no doubt replicating the situation of refugees incarcerated in various camps throughout the world. There is heightened tension when a gallery assistant provocatively questions the visitor if they suffer from vertigo before virtual reality headsets are fitted. Slightly unbalanced by such an inquiry, it is with slight trepidation the virtual world is faced as the headset is fitted. There is an immediate disconnection with the actuality of the outside world as a virtual realm takes over and realigns the senses to a new vivid environment.  Activating the subterranean visual chamber of the mind with an overload of sensory data it takes a while to reorientate your relationship and placement within this virtual construct. The thunderous noise of a helicopter encompasses the ears and its sudden arrival demands that you swivel your head upwards to locate its intrusion on the periphery of your vision.  The great grey mass of a helicopter without insignia hovers above in search mode, scanning the seas for boat people. Its unnerving presence demands vigilance since its intention whether benign or malign is uncertain.

In the gloom of half light figures emerge mingled tightly in a boat. A bearded man holds a dimly lit torch while a young child seeks comfort nestling their head against a parents shoulder. Waves beat without pardon against the sides of the boat as a large gate opens and the hunted boat moves out into the open shaded sea. A narrator explains the unwritten code of survival. To survive they must embrace the shadows and remain unnoticed and from yesterday’s forgotten dreams and desired revolutions a fragile hope of a new future beckons beyond the tortured sea. The route to freedom is found on churning seas and the destination is found using hope as a compass.

A tree suddenly appears shedding leaves as great concrete pillars surround its girth, depriving the tree room to grow. The tree becomes the symbolic representation of hopes engulfed and restrained by hidebound physical force. Abruptly the boat sinks downwards into a maelstrom of fire and explosions as war engulfs the refugees. It is uncertain if those on the boat manage to withstand the onslaught of conflict but gradually the boat rises and comes into view. Two fire beacons light a distant shore, guiding the sea tossed boat to land. The helicopter dramatically careers into view as it pursues the refugees. A desperate white sun bleakly rises above the horizon as the boat finds land. The displaced people have momentarily found peace away from their fractured homeland.

The programmes duration of eight minutes comes to an end but the feelings and experience of a people in flight from war endures long after the broadcast is concluded and remains clouding your mind as you exit the gallery.


The Weight Of Water – Elaine Hoey 
Thu 19 Oct – Sat 04 Nov 2017 
Ground Floor Gallery, Draíocht Blanchardstown


Desmond Kenny is an artist based in Hartstown, Dublin 15. He is a self taught painter, since he began making art in 1986 he has since exhibited widely in Ireland and abroad, solo shows include Draíocht in 2001, The Lab in 2006 and Pallas Contemporary Projects in 2008. His work is included in many collections including the Office of Public Works, SIPTU, and Fingal County Council. Kenny's practice also incorporates print making and he has been a member of Graphic Studio Dublin since 2004.

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By Draíocht. Tags: Visual Arts, Desmond Kenny, Elaine Hoey,

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