Public Feeling

Artist Name(s) Sarah Browne
Artwork title Public Feeling
Context/Background Public feeling was commissioned under IN CONTEXT 4 - In Our Time, South Dublin County Council’s Public Art Programme 2016-2019, funded through the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government's Per Cent for Art scheme. IN CONTEXT 4 - In Our Time reflected on the role of the 'artist in society' and the idea of 'artist as citizen'. The programme worked with artists and practitioners from different artforms, around projects that considered what community is.

An artwork about health and austerity shaped by fitness choreography. It explores the health impacts of austerity on the individual and social body, the politics of resilience, and considers the gym or leisure centre as a space where these bodies are trained, transformed and cared for. Early research for the project included mapping the growth of independent and commercial gyms in the county, with names such as Macho Gym, Extreme Fitness, and Fit4Less. Many of these gyms are located in industrial estates, alongside new churches that have sprung up over the last decade, creating purposeful new patterns of desire, use and movement through the South Dublin landscape.

This participatory project explores feelings – like joy, shame, anger and depression – not only as individual emotions, but as shared social realities, and asks how we can occupy the everyday space of the gym or leisure centre to re-imagine and re-work these collective experiences. Throughout the process of developing and rehearsing the project, the leisure centres were used for reading and writing activities, such as a workshop with poet, and facilitator Colm Keegan, as well as physical movement.

Each class (a circuit class, an aquafit class, and a virtual spin class) was delivered by a qualified fitness instructor: Gareth Francis (Kickstart Fitness); Eleanor Young (Aquafit), and Peter May (Cycle Studio). They instruct the participants throughout the class, which are accompanied by a musical score and scripted soundtrack. Newly commissioned writing by Lynn Ruane and Colm Keegan is incorporated into the sound design throughout the performances.


Totally Dublin: Weekend Highlights mention of Public Feeling (November 2019).

The Sunday Business Post: Agenda Magazine preview in front pages of magazine (3 November 2019).

The Echo, Preview of Public Feeling (6 November 2019) Blog by Sarah Browne on Public Feeling (8 November 2019).

The Sunday Business Post: Theatre Pages preview of Tallaght and Clondalkin performances (10 November 2019).

The Irish Times: Lynne Ruane’s article on Resilience commissioned for Public Feeling and published in the In Context 4 Book reprinted as a full page in the Health pages (19 November 2019).


Sarah Browne uses social and sculptural processes of engagement to address non-verbal, bodily experiences of knowledge, labour and justice. She works with film, sculpture and performance.

Her recent solo exhibitions include Report to an Academy, Marabouparken, Stockholm (2017); Hand to Mouth, CCA Derry~Londonderry & IMA, Brisbane (2014) and The Invisible Limb, basis, Frankfurt (2014). Selected group exhibitions include TOUCH, nGbK, Berlin; Strange Foreign Bodies at the Hunterian Museum, Glasgow (both 2018), and One Foot in the Real World, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2013). In 2016, with Jesse Jones, she made In the Shadow of the State, a major co-commission by Artangel and Create. This involved collaboration with women in the fields of law, music, material culture and midwifery, addressing women’s experience of the ‘touch of the law’ through a series of legal workshops and performances in Derry, Liverpool, Dublin and London. In 2009, Browne co-represented Ireland at the 53rd Venice Biennale with Gareth Kennedy and Kennedy Browne, their shared collaborative practice.

Commission Type Local Authority
Commissioner Name Orla Scannell, Arts Officer, South Dublin County Council
Commissioning process Open
Project commission dates August 30, 2017 - November 24, 2019
Public Presentation dates November 24, 2019 - November 24, 2019
Artform Visual Arts
Art Practice Arts Participation
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 35000 - 70000 euro
Project commission start date 30/08/2017
Project commission end date 24/11/2019
Location Clondalkin Leisure Centre and Tallaght Leisure Centre
County Dublin
Town Clondalkin and Tallaght
Content contributor(s) Muriel Foxton
Relationship to project Freelance Marketing Manager
Public engagement

The artist collaborated with Jobstown residents, Tallaght Leisure Centre, Kick Start Fitness, writers Lynn Ruane and Colm Keegan, and fitness instructors Gareth Francis, Eleanor Young, and Peter May to create and deliver this participatory Public Art project.

Associated professionals / Specialists involved

Project collaborators: South County Dublin Leisure Services

Writing by Colm Keegan, Lynn Ruane, Sarah Browne

Producer: Aisling O'Brien

Production assistant: Hillary Dziminski

Sound design and composition: Bee Akkerman

Strength and conditioning coach: Gareth Francis

Aquafit instructor: Eleanor Young

Videographer: Jenny Brady

Photographer: Miriam O'Connor

Research for this project was supported by UCD artist in residence programme, Tate Exchange Liverpool and Marabouparken Konsthall, Stockholm

Curators: Claire Power and Aoife Tunney



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Nazareth Housing Association provides independent living houses for individuals and couples who are 65 and over and on the Sligo County Council housing list.  Nazareth Village is comprised of 48 houses in a garden setting.  The Village was financed as a public-private partnership between Nazareth Housing Association and Sligo County Council with funding from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.  

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