Culture Night Art Trail - Drogheda

Connection – Strand 3 Culture night 2020, running until the 3 Oct. By Curator Brian Hegarty 

 If you were unable to get a ticket for the walking tour on Culture Night, you can take a self guided tour yourself using the Map and artist information below.

 'Connection' is a 3-strand project presented by the Droichead Arts Centre concluding with an offsite exhibition for Culture Night 2020.   Taking the gallery outside is not without its challenges. There are compromises, hurdles and frustrations to overcome in order to create a cohesive exhibition in this unusual environment. Connections involves 9 artists, each responding in their own unique way to local retail units,   

 The theme 'CONNECTION' as a word has gained a lot of resonance during the Covid pandemic. It is a word that has come to the forefront in a time of isolation and uncertainty. But how do we define 'Connection' and what does it mean to us as  individuals or as a community? How do we express our 'Connection', be it with each other, to nature, technology, to our town or country, history or to our individual beliefs? 

The exhibition 

During early discussions I decided I wanted to embrace local, national and international artists. Keeping with the 'Connection' theme the international artists selected were ones who already have a link with Drogheda. Gee Vaucher (UK) had her first ever solo Irish 'Introspective' exhibition in the Droichead in 2012. Sarah la Puetra (US) played the Drogheda Arts Festival in 2017 with the band 'Thor & Friends' while Mark Templeton (CAD) gave a lecture on sound and photography in the Droichead in 2019. Another strand to this project was to include people not necessarily of the 'Art World' per se. Orla Fitzpatrick is a photographic historian, Claire Fitch is a composer and digital media designer and Helen McDonnell is a well-regarded tattooist. I felt this would allow for a broader investigation of the theme. 



1. Starting the exhibition trail at the old 'O Reillys' building on Narrow West street is Namara Lindsey’s piece 'Nora' This piece a study on mortality is melancholic but handled with subtly and dignity. 'Nora' shown on 3 retro monitors is not just an ode to her Grandmother but also a poignant response to our elderly and to healthcare challenges which has come to the fore during these Covid times. 


2. John Moloney is the quintessential 'outsider artist'. He uses found materials and ready-mades to create juxtapositions with the urban and natural. Johns work defies the gallery experience so he was an obvious choice for a show like this, as you could easily come across a sculpture by John in out of the way places in the natural and urban environments. Also his work is playful and adds a light-heartedness to the exhibition. One of his exhibits is titled 'Blackspur Ferns'. Blackspur is the brand of cable ties John has used to create this piece. 


 3. Part of the window display at Kevin McAlister is the work of Canadian artist Mark Templeton who is best known as a sound artist and photographer. While his work usually involves a dialogue between image and sound, on this occasion he has opted to produce a silent film. The end product 'Anonymous Subjects' investigates the unknown through single image processing. Scanned 35mm slides of people, set against the backdrop of water, the video loop acts as a reflection of our past, assembled during a period of uncertainty. The idea is that people may just happen across the film within the display and pause for a moment or two with their thoughts. 


4.  The West court Hotel houses two works, the first being Fran Cassidy. Fran is quiet and modest about his work. I first became aware of his work through social media posts. As a photographer and poet he captures the essence of everyday life from candid moments to the unexpected. There is a warmth to his photography that is always empathetic to his subjects, many of whom are on the margins of society. I could have exhibited any number of Fran's photographs but one piece really struck a chord. 'Phoneshop' his piece for this show asks the question: are we really that connected or are we becoming more isolated through technology. His piece captures this perfectly, the nonchalant expression of the shop keeper lit by the latest in phone technology while 2 people pass by, one on his phone despite being in company. 


5. Alongside Fran's work is a Qr codes. This is the work 'Populated Solitude' by Claire Fitch. It is a virtual work based on the 'ghost space' that is now the Westcourt hotel. To be allowed into the piece you must scan her Qr codes that draw you into a virtual world of sound, vision and text based on conversations and stories from the varied history of the hotel itself. 


6. In the window of the 'The Little Duke’ we find the work of Helen Mc Donnell. Helen's piece 'Walk in these shoes' is 13 intricately carved shoe moulds which acknowledge the lost art of Scrimshaw. These molds were given to her by a former cobbler who realised he had no one to pass the shoemaking tradition on to. Helen has transformed these objects, investing them with new meaning. Each shoe has detailed carved images and statements that are both personal and social. 


7. Never afraid to make a bold statement Gee Vaucher is probably best known for her artwork with English anarchist punk collective 'Crass'. For this exhibition she and her co-conspirator Penny Rimbaud created slogans playing on the word 'Choice' and what it means to us as individuals. This piece boldly stands at the intersection of West street and Stockwell street. 


8. Beside 'Stockwell Artisan Foods' on Stockwell street is the mirthful interactive piece 'Always check the mail' by American artist / musician Sarah La Puetra. Sarah asks you to take a card, answer 2 simple questions, add your address and she will return to you a bespoke piece of mail art. Sarah has recently published her first photo-zine through the 'DRAG ACID' series on the 'thirtythree-45 label'. 


9. The final work of the exhibition, in the window of the Drogheda Library, is a historical piece by Orla Fitzpatrick. Orla, a photographic historian, came across this collection of intriguing portrait postcards which were taken in the photographic studios in Drogheda between 1860 and 1910.  The studios operated out of Lawrence Street and Peter Street. These cards were exchanged between friends and family and sent to emigrants in America. They provide a visual connection to the commercial and social history of the town.  Also as we don't know who the sitters are it may be an opportunity for the public to shed some light on these former inhabitants of Drogheda. 

 Brian Hegarty 2020 


 TICKETS BOOKED OUT: A tour of the exhibition will take place at 8:00pm with curator Brian Hegarty, and Droichead Director Collette Farrell on Culture Night this Fri 18 Sept. Limited to 10 with advance booking only at, meeting at Barlow House from 7:50pm, the tour will begin at 8:00pm sharp. Covid Protocols, including social distancing should be observed at all times. Duration 60 mins. The tour will finish in the gallery of Droichead Arts Centre. Connection is a Droichead Arts Centre initiative, Strand 3 is part of Culture Night 2020, and runs until the 3 October. With support from the Arts Council, Create Louth, Louth County Council and Drogheda B.I.D.S (Business Investment Development Scheme). We would like to also thank all the business owners/buildings who are participating in this project.    - WATCH HERE - CONNECTION IN PROGRESS