Community and art merged seamlessly with design research and technology at the opening of a unique art exhibition at VISUAL that is the first of its kind in Ireland.

EXCHANGE is the title of the special design research project which tasked undergraduate design students from the Institute of Technology Carlow with a brief to bridge ‘institution and community’ using Augmented Reality. Facilitated by lecturers Rosalind Murray and Colin Deevy, the exhibition represents the first collaboration between VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art, and designCORE, the design research centre based at IT Carlow, and UK augmented reality (AR) company Blippar.

The students launched an intensive public engagement on the streets, with public authorities, community & arts groups and through social media. The research found that Carlow has a long history of community involvement in the arts, including the creation of VISUAL itself, brought about though the vision and commitment of local people. Today the community hope for an embedded relationship with VISUAL as an art institution. To fulfil this wish the group issued to the wider community an open call for art. The resulting exhibition, EXCHANGE, comprises 63 fragments of art installed in the gallery, which trigger access to the full art work through the viewer’s smartphone or tablet via the Blippar app.  The exhibition features paintings, drawings, photography, video, music, and sound pieces.

In this hybrid exhibition, 45 artworks from the wider community of Carlow hang with submissions from 18 international artist, invited by Rosalind Murray. Local participants range from a 9-year-old Carlow girl, Aine Dowling, to David Gentleman, who submitted a photograph from his trip to Africa when he was 85, to seasoned amateur artist Eilis O’Neill from the original Éigse committee, and even Carlow’s own Chief Executive, Dan McInerney.  International contributors include Devin Kenny.

Explaining the final structure of the work, design student Daniel Maxwell commented, “Art ripples through people to enrich our shared communal experience, bringing benefits which radiate beyond geographic boundaries. In this exhibition, each artwork plays an equally valuable part in the flow of the wave-like design. Art belonging to the Carlow community emerges from the walls of VISUAL. The use of augmented reality gives us something more. This brings life to our intent”.

The official opening of EXCHANGE coincides with the publication of Ireland’s first design review journal. ITERATIONS is a publication of research, practice and comments by emergent thought leaders within the design discipline. It is a collaboration with the design, academic community and co-ordinated through Design Factors at the University of Limerick.

The launch of EXCHANGE also coincided with the opening of the first ever Irish design research conference. FAULTLINES-Bridging Knowledge Spaces, hosted by designCORE, took place at IT Carlow’s Dargan Centre to mark ID2015 Year of Irish Design and the 40th anniversary of design at IT Carlow. It featured three keynotes speakers. Raymond Turner, an internationally recognised authority on design leadership; Giles Ellis, founder and  designer at independent English watch company Schofield and Tomm Moore, director and cofounder of two-time Oscar-nominated animation studios Cartoon Saloon.

The event will also saw host of national and international design researchers - including representation from designCORE- present more than 30 papers on subjects such as User Experience, Design for Older Adults, Design Thinking, Leadership & Strategy and Design for Policy. The event is being organised by IT Carlow to provide a forum for critical discourse within Irish design research & creative practice.



For reference: Alma Feeley, IT Carlow
t: 059 9175098   m: 087 8204934


CAPTION: Rosalind Murray, desigCORE at IT Carlow, with Aine Dowling (9yrs.) viewing Aine's artwork that features in the EXCHANGE exhibition which has opened at VISUAL Arts Centre, Carlow.