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'Illuminations' Art Exhibition, Showcasing the Work of Irish Artists with Disabilities

‘Illuminations’, an exciting new art exhibition celebrating the creative talents of artists with disabilities from around the country, will be officially launched by community artist and arts activist, Mairtín O’Ceidigh, at the Longford County Council Buildings, on Thursday, 7th April at 6pm.

The exhibition, which runs until 21st April 2005 and has free admission, will showcase many of the entries submitted in the National Learning Network (formerly NTDI) ‘Illuminations’ Art Competition, including the award winning entry by Carmel Leavy from the Dawn Learning Centre in Longford.

The ‘Illuminations’ competition was initiated to promote and celebrate artists in the European Year of People with Disabilities. Over three hundred entries from throughout the country were received for the competition, which was sponsored by the Rehab Foundation and had a generous award fund of €10,000.

Helen O’ Donoghue, Senior Curator at the Irish Museum of Modern Art’s Education and Community Department and Artist, Rhona Henderson had the difficult task of judging all entries in the competition. Each submission was assessed on a number of criteria including the standard of artwork, the development of ideas and processes, career motivation and further training potential.

Following an interview and final assessment process, Carmel Leavy from Clondra, Longford was named joint runner-up in the competition. She received a prize fund of €2,500 to help further her creative development. David Doyle from Dublin was named as the other runner-up, while the top prize went to Anna O’Neill, also from Dublin.

The winning entries in the competition will be on display at the ‘Illuminations’ exhibition, in addition to other entries selected by Gene Lambert, artist and member of Aosdana.

“Over the past decade, National Learning Network has implemented a number of exciting programmes in Longford in relation to the arts,” says Finola McTernan, Arts Development Officer, National Learning Network. “The quality and success of projects such as the innovative artist-in-residence programme, Art Reach, spurred us on to develop the ‘Illuminations’ competition as a means of recognising and showcasing creative talent from Longford and around the country. The Rehab Foundation sponsored award fund, worth €10,000, will enable the winners to further their personal and creative development.”

National Learning Network (formerly NTDI), the training and education division of the Rehab Group, has over the past decade instigated a number of highly successful national and international initiatives in relation to the arts and runs programmes in the visual arts, performing arts and multi-media technologies. The organisation is committed to the development and support of initiatives that promote and celebrate artists with disabilities throughout Ireland.

“In addition to the Art Reach programme, trainees at Dawn Learning Centre here in Longford have participated in a wide range of arts initiatives,” says Lucy Tormley, Facilitator, Dawn Learning Centre. “These have included the very successful ‘Lir’ multi-media programme which drew on a variety of skills such as visual arts, creative writing, photography and drumming. A number of trainees at the centre also took part in the Art Reach Europe programme alongside participants from Germany and Denmark. In a separate project, trainees of the centre’s Turas programme are currently working on a film-making project with local artists Fiona McGinty and Teresa Doyle.“

Situated in the centre of Longford town, the Dawn Learning Centre runs a number of training programmes for people with disabilities and others who are marginalised. Sixty trainees currently participate in the training programmes that include Hospitality and Catering, Turas, Employer Based Training, Fresh Start and Horticulture.

For further information on the exhibition please contact: Finola McTernan, Arts Development Officer, tel: (01) 2057293

Lucy Tormley, Facilitator, Turas Programme, Dawn Learning Centre, Longford, tel: (043) 42255

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