This is a one-day event at the RHA Dublin is for visual artists and those invested in the cultural industries who are actively engaged in, or whose work responds to, different aspects of rural life.

This event is part of a larger research project developed by Dr Ciara Healy (IT Carlow) and Professor Mary Modeen (University of Dundee) in conjunction with The Royal Irish Academy and The Royal Society of Edinburgh.

The aim of the day is to enrich connections and establish new links between artists, farmers and academics whose research focus on rurality. These collaborations are important for rural communities who feel disenfranchised or disaffected with social and political structures, because they give agency to life stories that might otherwise be overlooked or misunderstood.

This symposium explores how Art can act as a connecting force between disparate groups and serves to open up questions and actions on rural issues.

Please see for information on this ongoing research project.

Please click HERE to book a place on this one-day symposium. The event is free. Booking essential.

As capacity for this event is limited to 35 participants.

Biographical details of speakers:

Dr Ciara Healy is a Writer, Book Artist, Curator and Programme Director for the BA (Hons) in Art at Wexford Campus School of Art and Design, IT Carlow, Ireland. She is a recent recipient of a Royal Irish Academy and Royal Society Edinburgh Bilateral Network Development Award. Her research interests involve developing strategies in writing, curating and education for agriculture and the visual arts to converge. This is in order to create more porous and heterodox ways of re-thinking relationships with the world, especially in a time of climate change.

Mary Modeen is an artist/academic whose research links creative practice with interdisciplinary academic studies in the humanities, particularly philosophy, literature, feminist and indigenous studies. Her research has several threads: perception as a cognitive and interpretive process, and place-based research, which tends to connect cultural values, history and embodied experience. As such, this work usually combines creative art practice and writing. International research networks, three of which Modeen co-convenes, are central in conducting the critical discourse which address, challenge and strengthen these research insights. She has been the leading figure in interdisciplinary collaboration between DJCAD and Humanities at all levels. She is also the DJCAD Associate Dean (Internationalisation).

Dr Nessa Cronin is a Lecturer in Irish Studies, Centre for Irish Studies, and Associate Director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, Ireland. She has published widely on various aspects of Irish Literature, Cultural Geography and Environmental Humanities. In September 2019 she was elected to the National Committee of Future Earth Ireland, based at the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin. She was awarded a Dean’s Award for Doctoral Supervision at the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies in January 2020.

Dr Tony Woodcock is the course leader for the BSc in Agriculture at WIT. He studied Biosystems Engineering, graduating from UCD in 2003 before completing a doctorate in UCD and in the Ashtown Research Centre, Teagasc. The PhD concentrated on using chemometric analysis of NIR spectral data to create fingerprints for food products, with the ultimate aim of reducing fraudulent claims for food products based on their geographical origin. His post-doctoral research in UCD focused on renewable energies, specifically the production of synthetic biogas using indigenous feedstocks. His current research interests are in agronomy and in particular, optimising break crops in tillage rotations. He is co-supervisor of an art and agriculture doctorate student on a project entitled Alter-rurality: Interpreting agricultural practices and narratives through visual arts” with Dr Ciara Healy of IT Carlow.

Jane Roberts comes from Cork and has a Master’s Degree in Animal Law & Society from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.  She did her dissertation on animal protection law in Ireland.  Her background is in law, education, and veterinary regulation and she has volunteered with a number of different animal welfare organisations.

James Foley farms with his wife Clodagh in the Blackwater Valley in Co. Waterford. The main enterprise on the farm is dairying where they milk 200 cows. Starting as a conventional farm, the farm is now transitioning to using regenerative farming and no dig methods in the veg garden to produce all the fertility from within the farm.

Lisa Fingleton is an eco-social artist, writer and organic farmer. Living and working on a small organic, social farm near the sea, she has spent many years cultivating deep-rooted connections between art, food and farming and is currently the embedded artist with Corca Dhuibhne Inbhuanaithe / A Creative Imagining,one of projects funded by Creative Ireland’s Creative Climate Action fund.  She is working with farmers on the Dingle Penninsula to creatively look at ways in which they can diversify to address climate change. Lisa is the author of The Local Food Project exploring ways of thinking global while eating local.

Deirdre O’Mahony’s art practice is informed by a deep interest in rural sustainability and farming. Recent and current projects include  Brookfield Farm’s Field Exchange, a Creative Ireland Climate Call project and Feeder at the RHA gallery (2022). She is currently artist-in-residence at UCD Earth Science Institute and the Soil residency artist at the Butler Gallery Kilkenny.


Proposed Symposium Itinerary | 9th April 2022

10:00      Tea, Coffee and welcome.

10:15            Welcome by RHA Director Patrick T Murphy

10:25           Welcome and Introduction by Dr Ciara Healy

10:30           The Rural Re-Imagined. Professor Mary Modeen, University of Dundee.

11.00           Irish Rural Heritage, Dr Nessa Cronin NUI Galway.

11.30           Tea Coffee & comfort break

12:00           Educating Young Farmers. Dr Tony Woodcock, Waterford Institute of Technology.

12:30           Animal Welfare Legislation in Ireland, Jane Roberts (Lawyer)

13:00          Transition to Regenerative Farming, embracing biodiversity. James Foley (Farmer)


13:30           Lunch Break


14:30           Tour of the exhibition A Growing Enquiry – Art & Agriculture, reconciling values at The Royal Hibernian Academy by RHA Director and exhibition curator Patrick T Murphy.

15:00           Fresh from the Field, Lisa Fingleton Visual Artist

15:30           Food Matters, Deirdre O’Mahony Visual artist

16:00           Q& A and panel discussion

16:30           Informal drinks and conversation in the gallery.

17:00           Close