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Exhibitions Archive



30 April–30 June 2013

Sarah Browne     Gerard Byrne    Felicity Clear    Maud Cotter   Michelle Deignan    Blaise Drummond     
Domestic Godless     Simon English     Mary Fitzgerald 
Patrick Jolley, Rebecca Trost & Inger Lise Hansen Marianne Keating Eoin McHugh    Paul Nugent     
Colin O'Connor   Jennifer Trouton     Daphne Wright

Preview launch: Sunday 28 April, 2:30 pm with the Domestic Godless

The Crawford Art Gallery in partnership with the Office of Public Works, is pleased to present an exhibition of sixteen contemporary artists entitled Prelude Speaker: Contemporary Castletown from April 29 to June 30, 2013 in the stunning setting of the historic Castletown House - in Celbridge, Co. Kildare.

Castletown House is Ireland's most important and largest eighteenth century Palladian style house built between 1722 and 1729 for William Conolly (1662-1729).  The son of a native Irish innkeeper from Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, he amassed huge wealth through his career in law and dealing in forfeited estates after the Williamite wars.    The title of the exhibition Prelude Speaker: Contemporary Castletown alludes to Conolly's appointment as Speaker of the Irish House of Commons in 1715, before becoming one the the three Lord Justices who administered the country during the frequent absences of the Lord Lieutenant.

Anthropologist Frances Larson has stated “objects are full of ambiguities and entangled histories. They tend to undermine the categories we provide for them, and lead us down unpredictable pathways as we learn from them”*. By exhibiting historical artefacts and contemporary art works together, the exhibition is an attempt to provoke dialogues which challenge traditional exhibition boundaries and to nurture relationships with history. The elaborately decorated and specific function of each room in Castletown provides an irresistible contrast to the more commonplace white cube galleries where contemporary art often resides.

The works selected gently evoke histories and incidences of Castletown’s past as well as creating subtle synergies with the present.  Touching on the possible past times and preoccupations of the inhabitants of Castletown Michelle Deignan’s film Her Fanciful Digression imagines a conversation between 19th Century Irish feminist Anna Doyle Wheeler and English landscape painter John Constable and considers the aesthetics of romanticism within the context of cultural, political and economic changes of the time. Eoin Mc Hugh’s work reflect upon the enlightenment and its scientific classification of the natural world whilst Paul Nugent and Blaise Drummond’s paintings explore visual history to expose truths about memory and the veracity of representation. In the splendidly elegant Long Gallery, three digital photographs by Gerard Byrne of contemporary Venice are juxtaposed with three exquisitely crafted Murano glass chandeliers shipped to Castletown in the late eighteenth century by the incumbent of the house Louisa Conolly. Both elements re-present the histories and ideals of an Italian aesthetics and aspirations.
By contrast, Patrick Jolley, Rebecca Trost & Inger Lise Hansen black and white video Hereafter brings to the mind the last century when Castletown fell into disrepair effortlessly resonating with the current economic climate. Marianne Keating’s commissioned work situated in the Print Room (the only example of a complete eighteenth century print room in Ireland) along with Felicity Clear and Jennifer Trouton’s work allude to the harsh realities of working and living within - and the lack of work without - Castletown’s boundaries. Perception are connecting threads through Maud CotterMary Fitzgerald and Sarah Browne’s respective installations whilst forgotten histories are prevalent in Daphne Wright’s evocative sculptures and Colin O’Connor ingenious work  ‘Ponder’.  To launch the exhibition on the afternoon of Sunday 28 April at 2:30 pm, the gastronomically dadaesque Domestic Godless (artists Stephen Brandes, Irene Murphy & Mick O'Shea) will present a customarily anarchic High Tea, an installation, questionably fit for consumption, in the historic Green Dining Room.

Prelude Speaker: Contemporary Castletown also ponders upon the question as to whether we should let properties like Castletown House speak for themselves or whether we should interact with them and allow them to perpetuate the culturally dynamic role they had in the past? Through video, sculpture, photography, installation and painting Prelude Speaker aims to bring new audiences to this historically charged setting and provides an opportunity for both emerging and established artists to show their work in a unique context.

Prelude Speaker: Contemporary Castletown is made possible through the collaboration of the Office of Public Works, the staff at Castletown House and Crawford Art Gallery, Cork. The artworks are drawn from the generosity of the artists, private and public collections including the Office of Public Works, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Kildare County Council and Crawford Art Gallery, Cork. The National Sculpture Factory has kindly assisted the project.

The exhibition coincides with the significant initiative by the Office of Public Works to enable visitors of Castletown House to be self-guided throughout the rooms of the early eighteenth century residence. 

The exhibition forms part of the Culture Connects programme of Ireland's European Union Presidency.

For further press information or images contact: or

How to get to Castletown House
The house is located 20km from Dublin off the N4/M4 Sligo Road From the M4, take exit 6 (R449 Celbridge West/Leixlip West Exit)
From the N7, take exit 4, Rathcoole, following R120 to Newcastle and R405 to Celbridge.

Please note that cars/ buses access is from the above entrance as the avenue from Celbridge is for pedestrian/bicycle access only. There is free parking for cars and coaches from Exit 6 off the M4 at Celbridge West.

GPS/SAT NAV Location: 
Latitude 53.355 and Longitude 6.53 

Pedestrians can get the 67 bus from Merrion Square in the centre of Dublin to Celbridge main street and walk (approx. 15mins) along the historical lime avenue to the House through the parklands.
Please refer to Dublin Bus for bus times.

Opening Times:
Castletown House is open to the general public 10 am to 6pm (last admission to the house is at 4.45pm), Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays from the 15th March until the 31st of October 2013

Admission to the exhibition is free.
For a guided tour or group bookings or enquiries please telephone +353 1 628 8252
or e-mail 

Please note there is no wheelchair access to the main house.
* Frances Larson (2009), An Infinity of Things: How Sir Henry Wellcome Collected the World, Oxford University Press, Oxford,
p 243- 4


Emmett Place, Cork, Ireland
T12 TNE6
Tel: 021 480 5042

Opening Hours
N.B. Last entry is 15 minutes before closing

Monday–Saturday 10.00am–5.00pm*
Thursday until 8.00pm

Sundays and Bank Holidays
11.00 am4.00pm

*Second floor closes 15 minutes before closing
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