In April 2013, a small group of people met to discuss the lack of a dedicated venue for visual artists to exhibit and to discuss ideas etc. The outcome of this initial meeting was the formation of an artist led group that would try and secure an venue in Longford Town to hold an exhibition of Longford based artists. Our intention is to raise the profile of locally based working artists and more importantly to highlight the need for a more dedicated space to support the development of the visual arts in Longford. The plan was to hold an exhibition on Culture night and to invite everyone!
Having looked around for a suitable venue, it was decided that the old Providers hardware shop on lower main street would be a perfect space, its central, has a connected history to the town and we would be doing something new with a disused building. The owners, the McGinnity family, supported our proposals from the outset.
We asked nine artists that have a connection with Longford to make new work for the exhibition. This included installations, paintings, video and performance. Each artist produced work to a very high standard and committed themselves completely to the exhibition. As an introduction to the event, there was a video piece in the main entrance, where most artists explained their idea behind their work. This proved to be invaluable to the people who came into the show by immediately breaking down any barriers that may exist between the artist and the viewer.
One of the most important elements of the Engage group is to make art accessible to the whole community, to make art part of the fabric of society and to be aware that artists are living and making work in the community. It is important to make it ‘normal’ and give everyone the chance to experience an event such as this.
John Waters opened the exhibition and he spoke very well about the work and the idea of opening up the visual arts to a wider audience and how important it is to have a platform to where artists can exhibit their work and engage with the public.