While Dublin is currently making the headlines for being financially unstable, the local Irish artists, designers, and writers are definitely making the most of it. They are taking over closed shops, unused garages, and empty warehouses; turning them into spaces for art exhibits, performances and gigs. For the past 18 months, Dublin has created collectives and non-profit organizations to keep their spaces up and running through the use of private funds, as well as several government grants. It has gradually become a city of popped-up spaces and the development is almost unimaginable just a few years back. Here is a list of some of the best independent art exhibits that you can enjoy in Dublin.
Whether you live in or you are visiting Dublin, the Basic Space is definitely a must-see place. Even if there aren’t any shows scheduled at the time, just go. The place is huge; in fact, it’s as huge as an airplane hangar. An organization from the National College of Art & Design has helped set up this exhibition space, and opened its doors to the public a few years back. With their very unusual move, they have dealt with various property developers while they are still looking for a space to open up the exhibit; and through good negotiations, the only problem that they have is paying electrical bills. However, according to its co-founder, Greg Howie, they wouldn’t have access to developers just like that and they believe that property owners are becoming more open to new things nowadays.
The Block T is located just above the Chinese supermarket in Smithfield, north Dublin; which used to be a tiling shop. Its name is dedicated to the apartment blocks that came to life in the area during the country’s booming economy. Currently, they have 17 resident artists that take part in various exhibits, plays, and other gigs. The space is operated with the use of a private funding and they hold events in order to raise money; ensuring that they’d keep the place in top shape.
The Complex, which is just located near Block T, is one of the more established pop-up exhibits in Dublin. It has been operating since the year 2009, occupying a vacant retail space which was acquired by the National Asset Management Agency (Ireland’s bad bank). While they are focused primarily on theatre productions, The Complex is nevertheless a multidisciplinary exhibit. It is currently being run by the former director of West End theatre director Vanessa Fielding.
What was once an elegant, Celtic Tiger-era furniture house, Exchange Dublin is located at the trendy area of the Temple Bar in Dublin. This artistic space holds almost anything from dance to film festivals, from photography to capoeira sessions. The centre is co-founded by Dylan Haskins — an Irish local — with much of the expenses covered by the Arts Council grant. The space grew out from the idea of Haskins that the building should be occupied to highlight various vacant retail units in the city. Currently settled in its semi-permanent home, they have a weekly diary that provides the visitors information of what to expect in the next days and months.
With what was previously a garage is a beautifully messy, whitewashed studio and exhibit space. SHE-D has been introduced in the Dublin art scene for quite some time now. Eli McBett, a picky archivist, keeps record of everyone who has visited the building in every show and exhibition that has been held in the space. The schedules for exhibits come in a weekly basis; thus, it would be better to keep tabs with it so you won’t miss out on anything.