The Guesthouse Project

The Guesthouse, 10 Chapel Street, Shandon , Cork IRL

The Guesthouse is a visual artist-led initiative whose objective is to create a place for production, meeting and cross-practice peer exchange that includes various forms of public discourse and encounter. The Guesthouse is engaged with creating social and discursive activity in the context of a residential setting. Through hosting, meeting and eating we facilitate a diverse range of solo and group projects with artists, curators, critics and passionate cooks, as well as being a point of interaction with local publics of interest.

At The Guesthouse we run an ongoing program of free public events, residencies and activities. Events and activities are initiated by both board members and outside practitioners. These initiatives create platforms for experimental film screenings, collaborations for cross disciplinary activity, improvised electronic sound and field recording performances, gramophone and vinyl presentations, exhibitions, discussion forums, talks and presentations. Sunday Lunch for example is a unique monthly event established to create an informal social gathering for visiting guests to meet and present their work to a local audience. The event includes a lunch hosted by guest practitioners followed by a presentation, screening or performance etc. The event operates on a gift economy where the audience is asked to bring something for the larder. The residency program, which includes both residential and non-residential short-term stays, offers an opportunity for local, national and international individuals or collective groups to develop projects and to test out ideas and strategies for exhibition, performance, publication etc among peer audiences. As a means to support the ongoing critical development and experimentation of practice we host an evolving range of activities to include reading groups, workshops and collaborative and peer-to-peer groups.

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The Guesthouse was founded in 2004 by the Cork Artists Collective in partnership with Cork City Council. Its process of evolution developed from incentives among artists in the studio group to create a space in the city to accommodate a residency and project space in addition to facilitating artist practice beyond the studio that incorporate discursive, process based, cross-disciplinary and collaborative type processes.

The Cork Artists Collective, founded in 1985 as a studio based facility located in Library House in the grounds of St. Fin Barre´s Cathedral, currently provides eight subsidised studios and a multimedia editing facility. The Cork Artists Collective originally formed during a wave of self-organising activity occurring among artists in Ireland and Britain during the early 80´s amidst a climate of economic recession. During this time in Cork the infrastructure and facilities to support artists practice beyond the art college was non-existent. This provided the primary impetus for a group of recent graduates motivated by the co-operative style studio groups forming in Belfast and Glasgow to set up the first artist collective studio group in Cork which became known as the Cork Artist Collective. The first premises for the studio group was located in a disused building on the Glasheen Road and the group later moved in 1986 to its current premises in the Library House on Dean Street leasing this property from the Church of Ireland. The original founding members pioneering its initiation were Jim Cummins, David McCormick, Noel Molloy, Irene Murphy, Collette Nolan, Lillian O Sullivan and Sean Taylor.

Cork Artists Collective, Library House, Dean Street, Cork (founded 1985)

Over the years the Cork Artists Collective had sought to acquire permanent premises to house the studio facility in partnership with Cork City Council. In 2003, after signing a long-term lease with the cathedral, the need for a premises for studio space provision expanded to a broader purpose. The first such purpose was to establish a project space to create more artist-led autonomy in the public realm in curating exhibitions and events. Emerging at a similar time in the studio was the need for an open and adaptive workspace that could accommodate discursive, process based and collaborative type practices. Of relevance also to artists practice were the cross-cultural encounters through residencies prompting the need to create a space to accommodate visiting artists. These new directions coincided with Cork City Council's purchase of an old guest house building in Shandon in 2004 as part of its cultural plan and an offer to the Cork Artists Collective to house its new initiatives.

In the year after Cork's adventures as the capital of culture in 2005, the National Sculpture Factory organized a post Capital of Culture meeting for artists and organisations to discuss the aftermath and project a plan for the future. Recommendations for the future action in Cork has been that flexible space for meeting and screenings and exhibitions be made available in Cork that spaces for production be made available to artists, recommendation that an ongoing reading group, reading room/book club be maintained. Need for a flexible contemporary exhibition space that is artist led. Need to maintain and build on international art networks, need to maintain and develop a more comprehensive and inclusive discursive culture in Cork, need to create stronger links between visual arts and related arts disciplines and related academic disciplines in Cork.

These recommendations were concurrent with the founding interests of The Guesthouse to create a space that is more engaged with the social and discursive potential within practice. Hosting, meeting and eating. To facilitate international and national exchange. To support the artists initiative within the city. To create a meeting point to enable an encounter with other disciplines and different ways of thinking. To encourage opportunity for collaboration and the development of new initiatives. To be a catalyst for new production.

Cork Artists Collective Directors Billy Foley and Irene Murphy led the extensive renovation work on the building during 2006-2007 with support from The Arts Council and Cork City Council. The building was developed maintaining a sense of its former identify and usage as a guest house to accommodate a self-contained residential space, two project rooms and a hosting space to include a kitchen and dining room for social gatherings and events.

The first Board was appointed in September 2008 to manage and programme activities. The Board was setup to include both members of the Cork Artists Collective that work within the context of the studio and outside practitioners. The Guesthouse founding members included Claire Guerin, Trevor Joyce, Colette Lewis, Irene Murphy, David Dobz O Brien, Mick O Shea and Matt Packer along with Robby Collins as technical support.

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Current Board Members
Aoife Cox
Claire Guerin
Catherine Harty
Irene Murphy
Mick O'Shea
John Thompson

Past Board Members
Trevor Joyce
Matt Packer
Mark Hall-Patch
Colette Lewis
David Dobz O Brien

Past Technical / Production Support
Ronan Lane
Rory Mullins
Robby Collins

Past Interns
Sol Godino - Partnership Europe
Eoin O Brien - St. Johns Central College (Photographic Studies)
Tamara Avidad - Scoil Stiofan Naofa (Arts Administration)
Niall O Brien - UCC (MA Theatre & Drama Studies)
Tadgh O Halloran - St. Johns Central College (Photographic Studies)
Brian O Keane - St. Johns Central College (TV, Film & Video Production)
Fortune Staunton - Midleton Community Secondary School


Board Members

Aoife Cox is a visual artist and art teacher living between Cork and Abu Dhabi, Her practice includes painting, sculpture, performance and participation projects.
Previously a founding member of the ALL collective with Joanna Hopkins and Mary Conroy. She has been involved with various art organisations including; Occupy Space, EVA International, Faber Studios, The Crawford Gallery and Blackpool Studios.

At the Guesthouse Aoife is interested in navigating the space as a site of connection, exchange and dialogue and enjoys engaging with residents and public participants during the ongoing 'Cereal Killer' open days.

Claire Guerin is a video artist and sound artist from Cork city. She is a founding member of The Guesthouse and collaborative groups such as 'haiku house', 'Tuesday Lunch' and 'Sunday Lunch'. She works with sound art groups 'Queef' (with Laney Mannion) and with 'The lost haiku' (with Danny McCarthy and Katie O'Looney). She also makes short videos and experiments with live video mixing or VJing. For more info on her work as an artist visit her on wordpress.

At the Guesthouse Claire mostly focuses on performance and video art strand. But currently enjoys cooking with the experimental cafe 'cereal killer' with Irene Murphy and Aoife Cox. Where they curate a Guesthouse open day as an optional introduction to the artist(s) in residence or with project proposals.

Catherine Harty works in a variety of media including painting, photography and video. She holds a Masters in Contemporary Art Theory from NCAD, and Fine Arts Practice from Birmingham School of Art, University of Central England. Her area of particular interest at the Guesthouse is film, video, sound and performance. She has an interest in theory and philosophy particularly in the area of art and politics and is a committed if lazy Marxist. She has been threatening for a long time to restart the Guesthouse reading group.

Irene Murphy is a visual artist living and working in Cork city she is a founder member of the Cork Artists Collective and The Guesthouse. She is a founder member of artists collaborative groups, Ideal State Agency and the YoYo Club, and is one of the trio in The Domestic Godless.

At the Guesthouse Irene is focused on the creation of new opportunities in video and collaboration. She is working also to develop links and exchange opportunities between similar organizations nationally and internationally.

Mick O Shea is a multimedia artist and is a director of the Cork Artists Collective and a founder member of The Guesthouse.. His medium includes sculpture, drawing, sound and cooking. All of his works spring from his essential experience in drawing. He has been instrumental in establishing a vibrant and growing sound art scene in Cork city and formed The Quiet Club in 2006 with sound artist Danny McCarthy. With fellow artists Stephen Brandes and Irene Murphy he set up The Domestic Godless in 2003 who explore culinary activity as art through performative cooking events. He formed Gaitkrash (an experimental performance/theatre group) with Bernadette Cronin and Regina Crowley in 2007.

At the Guesthouse Mick is developing a sound strand, which aims to develop an awareness of sound as an art form by organising concerts, discussions, workshops, presentations and residencies. Also to encourage established sound artists and emerging artists to meet, work and collaborate together.

John Thompson co-hosts residents as well as doing maintenance I the building. He has an undergraduate Arts degree in Philosophy and Art History from UCC. He is currently study for a Masters degree in Philosophy from UCC.

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