Workhouse Assembly


Workhouse Assembly is a collaborative art and architecture project based around the history and future of the Callan workhouse in Co. Kilkenny. It is curated by Hollie Kearns and Rosie Lynch.

Aside from participating in Workhouse Assembly’s onsite projects, I created a website to document its purpose and participants. The site, which is archived here, includes a series of photographs that were taken by Brian Cregan.

From the Press Release:

Workhouse Assembly is a twelve-day research workshop exploring the history and future development possibilities of a semi-derelict wing of the Callan Workhouse. Callan Union Workhouse was built in 1840 under the Poor Law Act of 1838. The wing that Workhouse Assembly addresses is currently being used as artists’ studios and as farmyard outhouses. Over the next few years, renovation, restoration and development will continue on this wing. Workhouse Assembly is being developed as a project to inform this work and ensure that it is meaningful to the building, its history, the town and the diverse Callan community.

Workhouse Assembly includes over thirty participants, with backgrounds in architecture, art, heritage, geography, photography, writing and conservation. Between July 31st and August 11th, LiD Architecture and Dee Harte ran daily workshops to make a tapestried map of the local area, and artist Gareth Kennedy worked with a group to make a lime render to coat part of the workhouse’s interior.

Collaborative research is being conducted in seminar discussions, local consultation, design and making, artistic response, historical enquiry, and site exploration. The project’s research and plans will culminate in a publication collated through work with editor and designer in residence, Seán O’Sullivan. This document will inform future actions and activities to promote involvement of communities of interest in the development of the building.

Workhouse Assembly has its origins in an approach developed through the Commonage Summer School in 2011 and 2012.