Visual Arts in Laois
Cultural History, Artist Patronage Scheme and Art Galleries.

County Laois, Leinster Province,
Republic of Ireland.

Note: For a brief guide to Celtic culture
including the early metalworks of the
Celts, see: Celtic Art. For information
about the two earliest styles, which
influenced so many Irish craftsmen
during the golden age of the early Christian era in Ireland, see: Hallstatt
(800-450) and La Tene (450-50 BCE)

Visual Arts in County Laois

South of Offaly and north of Kilkenny in the midlands of Ireland, County Laois is a county in the midlands of Ireland with a population of 58,774. Lying in the province of Leinster, Laois was founded in 1556 by Mary I of England and its capital is Portlaoise.

Early Visual Arts

Like many Irish counties, Laois has a visible connection with the early history of Irish art in the remains of Iron Age Celtic ring forts and burial grounds and medieval Christian settlements - such as the Rock of Dunamase, Timahoe Round Tower, Emo Court and Gardens, as well as the twelfth century Cistercian monastery at Abbeyleix. During the period between the fall of Rome (c.350) and the beginning of Renaissance art (c.1400), Church monasteries commissioned a wealth of Irish art, in the form of illuminated manuscripts, precious metalwork and public "High Cross" sculpture.

Head VI (Francis Bacon) 1948
For a list of national sites of
noted historical, architectural or
artistic significance, see:
Architectural Monuments Ireland and
Archeological Monuments Ireland.

Arts Development in Laois

County Laois was one of the first counties in ireland to recruit an Officer in charge of Arts. Its current Arts Department runs a strong program which includes: three county arts plans, the Artists’ Symposium, and an Artists’ Patronage Scheme. The county now has the Laois School of Music, Youth Theatres, Artists residencies and a range of arts-in-education programs. In 2006, the School of Music won the Chambers Ireland Arts Annual Cultural and Recreation Award.

Laois Artists

Numerous Irish artists now work in Laois, including: Maire Behan (Surrealist artist who works in Laois and Capri); Stacia Blake (landscape-based painter who has exhibited in Germany, Finland and Ireland); Cherry Brandon (media artist, international textile and fashion designer and illustrator); Patricia Bennett (abstract painter and installation artist, influenced by the Spanish painter Tapies and the German expressionists); Michael Boran (photographer and lens-based artist); Antoinette Breen (community based artist known for her thick impasto and thin translucent glazes); Michael Burke (sculptor in bronze, steel, wood, stained glass, ceramics and stone, with numerous public art commissions to his credit); Cathy Carman (sculptress known for her large figurative work in wood, stone and bronze, as well as her recent rural landscape painting involving digital print and mixed media combining both sculpture and print); Maeve Collins (known for her works in glass and voile material); Brendon Deacy (known for his artworks combining realism and abstraction, produced in a variety of media including paint, pencil and print).


Angela Delaney (Sculptress in stone); Sarah Delaney (animator, plein air figurative, equestrian and canine artist, and seascape painter); Lisa Fingleton (artist involved in installations, video, sound, fine art photography and performance art); Pat Fitzpatrick (landscape and rural artist); Pat Fox (oil painter known for his landscapes, townscapes, seascapes and portraits); Tom Joyce (oil painter known for his mountain, forest and river landscapes, and his West of Ireland seascapes); Andy Mason (lens-based artist known for his landscape photography); Paul Owens (painter and printmaker); Robert Stack (watercolour landscape painter, and illustrator); and Aidan Flanagan (known for his silkscreen prints and watercolours of Irish landscapes).

Art Galleries and Venues

One of Laois' best venues is the Dunamaise Arts Centre in Portlaoise (0502-63356). Funded by the Arts Council and Laois County Council, the centre displays works by local, national and international contemporary artists. For specialist paint, visit: Artists (Quality Art Paints), Mountmellick, County Laois (0502-44204).

• For more about Irish culture, see: Ireland Visual Arts.
• For more about the historical heritage of the province of Leinster, see: Homepage.
• For a list of the top living painters in Ireland, see: Best Irish Artists/Painters.
• For details of art venues and museums in Ireland, see: Irish Art Galleries.

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