Templemore to feature in major Venice Architecture Exhibition

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An historic shot of Templemore's town square

Templemore to feature in major Venice Architecture Exhibition. Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Templemore is one of ten Irish towns to feature in a major architecture exhibition in Venice later this month. The Venice Biennale is the foremost global architecture exhibition, attracting over 260,000 visitors over a six-month period from May 26th to November 25th.

The Biennale alternates every second year between Art and Architecture exhibitions, with 65 countries hosting national pavilions. 2018 represents a remarkable year for Irish architecture, as, for the first time, the overall curators of the Biennale are Irish: Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects. They set an overall theme of ‘FreeSpace’, “Freespace describes a generosity of spirit and a sense of humanity at the core of architecture's agenda, focusing on the quality of space itself”.

Each participating country was asked to respond to this theme, and following an open call, the ‘Free Market’ group was selected to commission and curate the Irish National Pavilion. The group consists of six young architects and designers, who proposed an exploration of the market places of small Irish towns including Nenagh architect Miriam Delaney, Jo Anne Butler, Jeffrey Bolhuis, Tara Kennedy, Laurence Lord and Orla Murphy.

Pic: The Free Market Curatorial Team which includes Nenagh architect Miriam Delaney. Pictured L-R: Miriam Delaney, Jeffrey Bolhuis, Orla Murphy, Jo Anne Butler, Tara Kennedy, Laurence Lord (Photograph: Ste Murray)

The Free Market curators chose this theme as the future of the small towns, and in particular the small town market place, has a very pertinent national interest, combined with an international resonance. The challenges and potential of small towns address global issues such as mass-urbanisation, emigration, changes in retail and housing supply. Free Market describes the character of Irish towns in the pavilion through sound, photography, drone images and literature, and chart the history and development of the urban forms of the Irish market place.

But the Free Market exhibition also examines the challenges faced by towns, and highlights the potential of small towns as sustainable, resilient communities. For example, the group has mapped the Government departments and agencies involved in decision-making in towns, and has produced a newspaper with essays by more than 40 expert contributors.

The remaining Irish towns included in this exhibition are Athenry, Ballinrobe Co. Mayo, Ballyshannon Co. Donegal, Bunclody Co. Wexford, Castleblayney Co. Monaghan, Kilmallock Co. Limerick, Kilrush Co. Clare, Macroom Co. Cork and Mountmellick Co. Laois.

Templemore will be represented in Venice in photography, drones images and a large scale model of the town, this event presents a remarkable opportunity to highlight Templemore to a global audience.

This is the first time that small towns and their market places has been the subject of the Irish pavilion, and it is also the first time the exhibition will return to tour small towns of Ireland. Free Market will return to Ireland in Summer 2019 and will tour some of the selected towns, continuing to gather participants and stories. The tour will close with a major symposium in late 2019, which will gather architects, historians, representatives, policy makers, and stakeholders involved in towns. It is hoped that this exhibition and subsequent tour and symposium will become a catalyst in the way policy decisions regarding small towns are made and implemented.

The Irish National Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale is an initiative of Culture Ireland in partnership with the Arts Council.

For more information visit www.free-market.ie or check out Free Market on social media (Instagram and Twitter)