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Celebrate Offaly’s unique landscape at The Festival of Change

The Festival of Change in Offaly is set to unfold on Friday, 5th April, and Saturday, 6th April. While admission to all events is complimentary, booking is necessary due to the limited capacity of certain activities.

This novel and captivating celebration centered around art within the natural surroundings is approaching Offaly in the upcoming weekend. The Festival of Change is a joint effort between Offaly County Council, Mayo County Council, and Visual Artists Ireland. This endeavour is supported by the Arts Council’s Invitation to Collaboration Scheme. All events are free to the public. The festival will present a diverse and stimulating agenda of activities and gatherings, delving into the influence that art, both tangible and intangible, can exert on communities and locations, encompassing social, economic, and cultural dimensions. The festival will be stationed at two distinct sites across the counties: the Tir Saile Sculpture Trail in Mayo and the Lough Boora Sculpture Park in Offaly.

In Offaly, the festival will commence at Tullamore’s Esker Arts on the morning of Friday, 5th April, with ‘Tionól’, a gathering of selected individuals, groups, and artists who will present their expansive or concise conceptions regarding the potential held by ‘art in the landscape’ to an intrigued audience. Artists and community groups are invited to be part of the audience and witness the blue-sky thinking with regards to running art projects. This will lead into an informal networking session called the ‘Conversation Café,’ providing a platform to further develop ideas from the Tionól or introduce new concepts in a casual and laid-back setting. Booking for the ‘Conversation Café’ Networking Lunch is a must. ‘Tionól’ is the perfect locale for artists aspiring to participate in a brainstorming session.

Throughout the day, a variety of discussions and activities will ensue, including an illustrated discourse by photographer and filmmaker Tim Smith, accompanied by Hardeep Singh Sahota, with whom he has collaborated for the past decade. Together, they have interwoven words, visuals, music, dance, and “found sounds” to delve into the lives of local communities in the North of England and how this has transpired into their recent endeavours in County Offaly. Ruairí O’ Shea, an established folk artist hailing from Offaly will wind the afternoon down with a soulful performance designed to reflect the themes of the day. The evening will witness the unveiling of ‘Midland: Mother Myth Memory,’ an exhibition by the esteemed artist Rita Duffy, followed by a Bhangra Ceili – Fusion where all groups are encouraged to partake. Comhaltas groups, set dancers, belly dancers – all types of dancers either novices or more established are invited to this fun event – the first of its kind in the Midlands.

On Saturday, 6th April, a poetry workshop facilitated by Eileen Casey will be held at Esker Arts, with additional events occurring at Lough Boora Sculpture Park, such as walks with artist Eileen Hutton, who employs an unconventional photographic process to craft soil portraits on photosensitive paper. Hardeep Singh Sahota will host a Bhangra Dance workshop in the wonderful surroundings of the Pavillion in Lough Boora. Also, ‘La na Mona,’ a curated theatrical experience by Rita Duffy and Nuala Hayes, a performer and storyteller, will offer a whimsical journey through Lough Boora Sculpture Park, promising diversion, entertainment, and inspiration for participants. This surreal and multisensory adventure in the rejuvenated natural setting will feature surprise guests, concluding with tea and turf cake. All events are outdoors in the natural setting, so appropriate attire is required for this immersive day. The festival will then return to Esker Arts in the evening, culminating with ‘Rhythm of Light,’ an exhibition premiere and commission showcase by Hardeep Singh Sahota & Tim Smith.

For a complete schedule, visit Admission to all festival events is free, but reservations are essential. Due to the restricted capacity of many activities, early booking is highly recommended, given capacity has already been reached for many events. Book directly for all events in Esker Arts and Lough Boora Sculpture Park via

Bhangra dancer Hardeep Sahota and photographer Tim Smith collaborated with Irish dancers from different disciplines to create a series of compelling images that give vibrant sculptural form to the fleeting nature of dance. Lights held and worn by the performers enable their flowing movements to be translated into bright, calligraphic strokes, as in this image of Hardeep performing at the Tidal Pool in Belmullet, County Mayo. These atmospheric images will feature in a multi-media exhibition curated by Hardeep and Tim to be shown in both Tullamore and Ballina.