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‘Free Market’ team announces towns for the Venice Biennale 2018


Ireland’s national pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2018 will highlight the generosity, humanity and possibility in the common spaces of Ireland’s market towns. The exhibition, entitled ‘Free Market’, is being curated by a team of six architects and designers. The team is focusing on towns with a population of between 1500 and 5000 people which demonstrate regional variation, typical challenges facing towns today, but also the unique identity that characterise rural market towns.

The towns include:

Athenry, County Galway

Ballinrobe, County Mayo

Ballyshannon, County Donegal

Bunclody, County Wexford

Castleblayney, County Monaghan

Kilmallock, County Limerick

Kilrush, County Clare

Macroom, County Cork

Mountmellick, County Laois

Templemore, County Tipperary

Once the economic and social hubs of rural Ireland, small town market places have undergone fundamental change in recent times, with many seeing their function as places of exchange and congregation diminished. This project proposes to reimagine these as places of interaction and community. It is the first time an Irish Pavilion has studied rural towns and it will also be the first time the Irish Pavilion returns to rural towns as part of its national tour, culminating in an interdisciplinary symposium in 2019.

The Venice Architecture Biennale is the foremost global forum for architectural exhibition and debate. It runs every second year and attracts over 260,000 visitors during the six month long event, as well as widespread international media coverage. The exhibition will take place from 26 May to 25 November.

The Free Market team is Miriam Delaney, Jo Anne Butler, Laurence Lord, Tara Kennedy, Orla Murphy and Jeffrey Bolhuis. Free Market is a direct response to the overarching theme of ‘Freespace’ selected by chief curators of the Venice Architecture Biennale Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara. Ireland’s exhibition at Venice is an initiative of Culture Ireland, in partnership with the Arts Council. Since 2005, Culture Ireland and the Arts Council have partnered on supporting Ireland’s representation at Venice given the ongoing platform it offers artists to reach an international audience.