The small village of Cill Rialaig – an artist retreat made from the ruins of a pre-famine village on Bolus Head near Ballinskelligs – will play host to South Africa’s leading Artists this August. Two years ago a similar group from Argentina took residence in the humble circa 1790 village restored and rebuilt by the Cill Rialaig Project led by former publisher and entrepreneur Dr Noelle Campbell Sharp.
Unlike other residencies, selection of artists is based on excellence of work and not on how much artists can pay. The rent free Residency Award system has been in operation for 21 years. “The economies of scale (only 7 houses) would defeat a commercial approach and the building of more and more houses within the village would only destroy the quiet nature of the retreat, which makes the experience so attractive to serious practising artists” says Project Founder, Campbell Sharp.
However the 73 year old believes that the State agencies, eg. the Arts Council, Department of Arts and Udaras are slow in recognising the national value of the remotely located artist retreat and is concerned that after 25 years of her own efforts and a small group of locals to bring about a regeneration of this marginalised and remote area through the arts, that lessons have not been learned from the business model developed in South West Kerry. Her worry is that this unique hub for the creative economy which has opened international channels through the arts at the highest level may be lost to Ireland as a whole.
“Since coming to Cill Rialaig I have got to know many Irish artists who I’ve been able to assist through my critical knowledge of the arts scene but also because unlike the many government agencies which are charged with supporting them, we have learned what ‘an artist’ truly is. Cill Rialaig reserves the greater proportion of residencies for Irish artists, writers and poets who find the connectivity with leading international artists and writers of immense value in identifying markets abroad”, says Noelle.
In the meantime, hundreds of exhibitions inspired by Ireland itself, its culture, language, nature and scenery have done the most cost effective job in promoting to AB audiences throughout the world with relatively small support from ‘the powers that be’ in Dublin.
For further information please contact 086 244 1104 or 066 947 9277.