Catch a bargain at Russborough's vintage car boot sale

Blaise Smith, PJ Lynch, Vera Klute and Joe Dunne among 40 artists taking part

Artists Catherine Barron, Monica Crowley and Blaise Smith RHA load up their Nissan Figaro for the Art Car Boot Fair at Russborough House on Sunday, September 9th.

Artists Catherine Barron, Monica Crowley and Blaise Smith RHA load up their Nissan Figaro for the Art Car Boot Fair at Russborough House on Sunday, September 9th.


What do you get if you cross a car boot sale with a contemporary art fair?  You get the Art Car Boot Fair, a light-hearted event which will be held at Russborough House in Co Wicklow on Saturday September 9th. 

Imagine 40 classic and vintage cars lined up along the majestic carriage sweep at Russborough, their boots filled with affordable works, collectibles and assorted bits and pieces from 40 of Ireland’s best contemporary artists.

“It’s going to be a hoot,” says the painter Blaise Smith, RHA, who drew up the list of participating artists and invited them to take part. “It’s a creative take on the car boot sale, a bit of fun, nothing to get too hung up about. 

“Vera Klute, the multi-disciplinary artist, will be bringing a selection of the cups and saucers which she makes, I think, for relaxation. But my favourite reply came from Alan Phelan, the installation and film artist, who said: ‘Oh, I have hundreds of paper cabbages that I made in boxes for an installation – I was just wondering what to do with them . . .’  I really hope he has the car absolutely stuffed with those. That would be brilliant.” 

Also getting the boot treatment will be Gabhann Dunne, Gillian Lawler, Joe Dunne RHA, Helen Blake, Sean Molloy, Nicky Hooper, Monika Crowley, Yanny Petters, Eoin MacLochlainn, Hugh Cummins, Paul Murnaghan, Oscar Fouz Lopez and Catherine Barron. 

Small original works by these artists fetch hundreds or thousands of euro – but at Russborough, budding collectors can buy something fun and affordable made just for this event or even during the event.  And in case you’re wondering how come all these artists are in possession of collectible cars, they aren’t – but a local car club has come up trumps and agreed to provide suitably salubrious vehicles for the fair.  It’s all in a good cause, as it’s a fundraiser for Russborough House. 

Along with the children’s laureate, the illustrator PJ Lynch, Smith will be doing 30-minute portrait drawings on the day. A sitting with either of these artists costs €100 and must be booked in advance on 

“I’ve done it before and it’s great fun. Myself and PJ are quite good at it now,” says Smith.

How does an artist go about producing a portrait in half an hour? 

Subject’s eyes

“Ah, well,” says Smith. “I have a sequence of tricks. One of them is always to keep the subject’s eyes level with you at all times. It’s much harder to draw somebody who’s got their head tilted, as their eyes are different shapes. Also, I use certain materials which help with speed – for instance, a sponge with pastel on it that allows me to get in big masses of background. 

Smith will also be selling his own range of artist’s studio clocks – a signed, numbered edition of 50 at €50 each.

“It’s an artist’s studio clock, and it expresses the feeling that many contemporary artists have – and poets, and architects,and writers, and film-makers – that you’re always too late to make original work.”

In fact, of course, there’s always something new in the world of art – as the very existence of this fair proves. Besides the artworks and the vintage cars, gourmet food, prosecco and free parking are promised. Admission is €10 for adults, children go free. The fair runs from 10am to 5pm. For further information see