Billboard artwork by Samantha Leavy.

Local community artists showcase work in Offaly

by Anna Carmody

With the launching of the long-awaited Esker Arts Centre in Tullamore this year it is exciting times in the arts in Offaly.

Anam Beo artists serves as a collective for artistic skill sharing and social innovations within communities and care settings throughout Offaly.

This summer Anam Beo’s arts, health and visibility campaign will take the form of an open air grand and accessible arts experience in the centre of Tullamore town beginning this week and extending through to June. It will also showcase artwork by participants Samantha Leavy and Alison Mc Evoy from The Irish Wheelchair Association, Ballinagar.

Samantha Leavy whose billboard image is the first on display on High Street, Tullamore. Artwork produced during an Irish Wheelchair Assocaition, Ballinagar staff project facilitated by Anam Beo.

The artwork was produced during Anam Beo's programme ‘Reconnect’ supported by The Bank of Ireland ‘Back to Arts Business to Arts fund’ and Julie Spollen’s ‘My Notebook, My Digital and I’ with an Offaly County Councils Artist’s Award.

Also featured will be a beautiful floral image by Pauline Stronge who took part in the ‘Still Lives, Still Alive’ collaborative Artists in the Community Project where members from Tullamore Camera Club were facilitated by photographic artist Veronica Nicholson. Congratulations to Samantha Leavy, Pauline Stronge and Alison McEvoy.

Marie, Bridie, Mary, Philomena and Pauline are Members of Tullamore Camera Club. Image by Photographic Artist Veronica Nicholson who facilitated ‘Still Lives, Still Alive’ an Anam Beo Art.

Speaking about the project Pauline reflected on her experience: “I am delighted and honoured that my photo has been selected for public display. Undertaking the ‘Still Lives, Still Alive’ project with Veronica Nicholson a Photographic Artist, was a new challenge for me. It was very interesting and enjoyable to learn how to create photographs of ‘Still Life’. I have always had a keen interest in photography and joined Tullamore Camera Club many years ago. I would like to thank Veronica for her guidance and advice. I would also like to thank the other members of the Anam Beo group for their encouragement and support. Thanks, also to Julie Spollen, Anam Beo Project Manager who initiated the project.”

The art displayed on the billboard at the entrance to Spollen’s carpark, High Street, Tullamore will change every two weeks. Anam Beo hopes this outdoor billboard exhibition will enhance public engagement for our communities, promoting a place for the arts in the civic space while nurturing and supporting individuals' creative endeavours. This showcase will also take place during the Bealtaine Festival, ‘Ireland’s National celebration of the arts and creativity as we age’. There is a large body of creative work being produced from the varied and individualised projects for people in Offaly’s community and care settings. Socially inclusive and participatory engagements which produce wonderful artwork. It is important to celebrate and promote spaces to showcase the community's artwork and creativity.