Announcing our 2024 Westmeath Creative Practitioners in Residence

As part of Westmeath County Council’s Creative Ireland Programme for 2024, Westmeath Arts Office is delighted to announce its 2024 Creative Practitioners in Residence. This pilot residency programme is a county wide initiative that was open to creative practitioners across all creative fields- arts, heritage, literature, theatre, circus, etc. Three 12-week long residencies will be available for three creative practitioners across all fields.

Ali Morris, Patsy Preston and Rachel Coyne have each been selected to develop a 12-week project which creates local awareness and understanding for their creative form.

Ali Morris

Ali Morris is an event manager & producer from Mullingar. Her work includes the national St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin and Another Love Story Festival, as well as stints with other festivals including Body & Soul, All Together Now and Fuinneamh (with Native Events).Also a DJ, Ali has worked on and promoted many club nights over the years, in Ireland and London. She is a co-founder and director of the recently formed Bailiú Festivals & Events which had its inaugural festival in Mullingar in May 2024. Ali believes in the potential for festivals and events to build community, collaboration and cooperation, and to help us as we respond to the many issues we face including climate change and political apathy.

The Bailiú Creative Youth Project

The Bailiú Creative Youth Project is an initiative which aims to foster creative thinking about arts and culture among young people in transition year at the secondary schools in Mullingar. Bailiú founder, Ali Morris, will work with a team of students, selected by their teachers, from the various secondary schools in the town. An initial meeting would take place in May before the end of the school year to establish a work plan for when the new school year begins. Over the course of the 12 weeks, Ali will work with the students, to show them how to programme an arts festival and to help them to develop an arts and culture festival that will reflect their interests and artistic talents.

Patsy Preston

Patsy Preston is a visual artist best known for her iconic, large, sculptural work, bringing mythological gods and goddesses to life within the landscape through her environmental arts practice. Born in Belfast and based in Westmeath since 1997, Patsy creates installations and sculpture for events, public and private commissions, as well as socially engaged and community art projects. With a deep connection to the mythological stories woven through our landscape and an honouring of the Divine in nature, Patsy explores form using a diverse range of mediums. Found objects, fabrics, mosaic, paint, recycled and natural materials, along with living plants often combine in her work, with an undying theme of ecological awareness.

Awakening Sionanne

Patsy will work with the Athlone Family Resource Centre on collaborative art workshops conducted with local community groups, youth work organisations and schools will bring to life the mythology of our River Goddess. Over the course of a three-month period local groups will work with the lead artistic director (Patsy Preston) for this project. Weekly workshops will take place during this time to help bring the artistic vision of this project to realisation. Awakening Sionnane seeks to spark the general public’s imagination and connection to Athlone’s innate mythological history. The project seeks to revive collaborative arts and street spectacle practices in County Westmeath. The workshops will culminate in a Street Theatre Parade on Saturday 2nd August 2024 in Athlone town that celebrates our towns Goddess and Viking heritage.

Rachel Coyne

Rachel Coyne is a visual artist based in Mullingar. She holds a BA Hons. Degree in Fine Art from ATU Galway and works mainly through painting from direct and indirect observation. She uses reference materials such as historical figurative paintings, Irish Mythology, old photographs and memories from her childhood to inform her practice. Her work has been selected to exhibit at K-Fest 2019 Killorglin, Westival; Music and Arts Festival 2018 and Claremorris Open Exhibition 2017. She has also exhibited at New York Studio School, Manhattan, The Courthouse Gallery Kinvara, Hambly & Hambly Gallery Enniskillen and Claremorris Gallery, Claremorris. Rachel completed a semester at The New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture in 2019, in British artist Graham Nickson’s atelier. She now runs a small art school in Mullingar called The Artists’ Mess at Cúige Studios, an event space she co-founded in 2022. Rachel is commencing a Masters in Painting at The Royal College of Art in September 2024.

Inclusive Empowerment through Art

A 12 week visual art course for teenagers who attend three local DEIS secondary schools in Westmeath. DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) schools are recognised as areas with a high level of students who live with disadvantage. The project will facilitate a space for those teenagers to allow them to realise art as a positive leisure activity, as a tool of self-initiation and as an aid for storytelling and self-expression. The art workshops are designed increase to increase the students' confidence in creating art for now and potentially a future career in the arts or otherwise by encouraging creative thinking into their everyday lives.

Over the 12 weeks students will learn about developing a process/practice, how to come up with a creative project, how to discuss their own art to a group and critical theory skills. They will build communication and creative thinking skills which will increase confidence in everyday life for the students.