Fire Station: a space that helps artists think big
The Dublin studio has offered generous residencies for artists to live and work for 20 years. As former resident Jesse Jones puts it, ‘the space demands more of you’
All facilities – including a digital room – come with technical support. “In art, it is so important to push oneself and push through boundaries and experiment,” says Jones. It does this in other ways too, renting out sculpture space and running short courses.
“I can’t imagine where my work would be if I hadn’t have been there,” says Jones. “[My] moving into film happened through Fire Station. It was such an important time in my practice. Without having that space, would I have made those risks and decisions? That was true for a lot of artists there: there were moments of shift in their practice.”
The centre works with the local north- inner-city community and is now expanding its remit internationally by inviting in artists and curators from abroad. It’s a way of getting them to consider Ireland and Irish artists when they return to their home countries and set about choosing work for exhibitions. But, wherever an artist exhibits, by that time a huge amount of work has led up to it, perhaps many years. “We are a cog in that wheel,” says Kenny.
The Fire Station is holding an open day on November 28 with demonstrations, exhibitions, talks and performances. 9-11 Lower Buckingham Street, Dublin 1, firestation.ie
Alice Maher’s residency: ‘It gave me space to work’
Alice Maher lived at the Fire Station in the early 1990s:
“I was more or less the first resident and was thrilled to get a huge space to work and live in. It was at a critical time for me. I was just giving up my job at NCAD: I very quickly made that decision after a year teaching. I was full of ideas for things I wanted to do, and it was really incompatible to do the two.
“Fire Station was a great transition space. It totally helped me leave teaching and to fully live life as an artist all day long. It gave me the space to work: physically and psychologically.
“My bedroom was up in the eaves, with a beautiful wooden beam I had to climb over to get into the bed.
“My first really big exhibition came from there, in the Douglas Hyde gallery in Trinity, in 1994. Douglas Hyde is a huge space, and having a big space to make work in made it easy to project work into the space.
“Also, the curator could come and see progress and we could have the discussion with the work hanging there. That upped the ante for me, it fed the ambition, and gave me courage to make work on a large scale.
“It was difficult to leave such an amazing space. The main thing for an artist is where to store stuff; it is not about having a nice room.
“Afterwards I had a residency in Paris, and when I returned to Dublin I went straight back to the north inner city, two blocks away from Fire Station, and I often got help from them. I have now built my own space in Co Mayo, which is based on my experience in Fire Station and my memory of working and living in one compatible space.”