Research in Public: Public Art in Galway

Artist Name(s) Vagabond Reviews
Artwork title Research in Public: Public Art in Galway

A participatory public art project commissioned by Galway City Council’s Arts Office. The project had two primary strands of inquiry: to engage directly with the residents of the Sliabh Bán Estate Ballybane where the commission was located, and to initiate a city-wide dialogue on public art in the city of Galway.

Sliabh Bán is a 54 unit local authority estate in East Galway. In 2009 the first residents began to move in. With the support of the Cluid Housing Association, Vagabond Reviews secured a project house within the estate. From July to December 2011 they engaged in the initial arts-based research phase of the project at No.18 Sliabh Bán. From their base in the neighbourhood the artists worked with residents of the estate and in close consultation with the Sliabh Bán Resident’s Association Committee. Over the course of the project Vagabond Review liaised with Galway City Council Arts Office, Galway City Council Housing Dept. and the Ballybane Community Resource Centre.


The project was completed in June 2012, culminating in an exhibition of work by residents at No.18 Sliabh Bán, which reflected on themes of home, displacement and embodied local identities within the culturally diverse neighbourhood of Sliabh Bán. Vagabond Reviews are currently compiling a publication as part of the project documentation.


Vagabond Reviews, based in Dublin, is an interdisciplinary arts initiative established in 2007 by visual artist Ailbhe Murphy and independent researcher Ciaran Smyth. Their collaborative practice meets in the territory where art and social science encounter each other as particular forms of inquiry. On the side of art they notice ever increasing efforts to situate socially engaged art practice within the art historical way of knowing about contemporary art production. On the side of social science they notice the crisis of legitimation and at the same time, a rich repertoire of critical tools for unpacking and critically engaging with complex social worlds. As an interdisciplinary platform, Vagabond Reviews seeks to bring those two registers together by developing creative and collaborative models of knowledge production, representation and distribution through a combination of art practice, research strategies and critical review.

Commission Type Local Authority
Commissioner Name Galway City Council
Commissioning process Two stage competition
Project commission dates July 31, 2011 - June 30, 2012
Public Presentation dates May 28, 2012 - May 31, 2012
Artform Visual Arts
Art Practice Arts Participation
Funded By Galway City Council
Percent for art Yes
Budget Range 0 - 10000 euro
Project commission start date 31/07/2011
Project commission end date 30/06/2012
Location No.18 , Sliabh Bán
County Galway
Town Galway
Content contributor(s) Web Editor
Public engagement

An exhibition of work by residents at No.18 Sliabh Bán, was open to the public from 28 to 31May 2012.

In addition, Vagabond Reviews also co-hosted a series of Public Art Clinics at No.18 with the Sliabh Bán Residents Association Committee in association with Mapping Spectral Traces V conference in May 2012. These clinics addressed key questions of participatory practice in a community context and the broader question of public art practice in Galway City.

Associated professionals / Specialists involved
  • Sliabh Bán residents
  • Local councilors
  • Housing Department, Galway City Council
  • Ballybane Community Resource Centre
  • Cluid Housing Association
  • Students from Galway Mayo Institute of Technology
  • Students from MA in Social Practice and the Creative Environment, Limerick School of Art & Design
  • Students from MSC programme at the School of Sociology, UCD
  • Members of the Mapping Spectral Traces network
  • Academics, curators & artists from Galway, Limerick, Clare, Dublin & Barcelona



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