Tipperary festival to feature Robert Ballagh collection and new solar studio


Tipperary festival to feature Robert Ballagh collection and new solar studio

A solar studio that will be an artist's cabin on the upper carpark of the Showgrounds shopping centre during the festival

Showgrounds Shopping Centre, celebrating their 10th anniversary in style, will be a hub for the Clonmel Junction Arts Festival. 

The festival box office is open every day from 10am to 6pm for information and tickets. 

“Showgrounds has been a wonderful festival partner since the beginning and we really appreciate the support from them and all our funding partners in helping to bring the festival to the next level” said Clíona Maher, festival director.

This year the shopping centre will be transformed into an art gallery. 

Robert Ballagh first painted near life-sized photo realist images of people looking at contemporary art in the early 1970s. The series was instantly popular and was well received critically in the art world.

“People and a Frank Stella” was commissioned for the inner walkway leading through what was originally the Five Star Supermarket in Gladstone Street, Clonmel and remained in situ when future stores Quinnsworth, Crazy Prices, and lastly Tesco occupied the location.

 This bold design was inspired by people looking at art, very much in keeping with the Festival’s motto #LookUp. He used fellow artist Frank Stella’s notched “V”, upending it to create a unifying and lengthy composition.

The installation was designed to compete with the wear and tear of supermarket trolleys, bicycles and general traffic coming and going through the shopping centre. 

It is one of the first collections which lead to Robert Ballagh being sought after for future commissions in the art world and galvanised his status as an artist as well as an illustrator.

The collection was gifted to Tipperary County Museum in 1992 when the supermarket chain owners –Power Supermarkets Ltd ceased trading. The project would not be possible without funding assistance from Tipperary County Council, Creative Ireland and the support of Clonmel Junction Arts Festival and Showgrounds Shopping Centre and Camida.

Great care and attention is going into the project’s conservation and Marie McMahon, curator of Tipperary County Museum, hopes that the public will be as fascinated with the piece as museum and festival staff. 

She said - “We’re thrilled to announce that the conservation of the panels can be seen on a daily basis from June 17 – June 21 at the Showground’s Shopping Centre. This unique interaction with the installation and the conservators will give an insight into modern art conservation techniques rarely viewed by the public”.

A limited edition postcard will be available around town to be sent to family and friends, thanks to support from Camida, another Clonmel-based company involved with the festival from the beginning.

Robert Ballagh will visit Clonmel to launch the festival and unveil the installation on  July 1, and will give a public talk about the piece on Tuesday,  July  2.

Another exhibition at Showgrounds will be The Hills on our Doorstep are Green Too. 

Celebrating Clonmel’s beautiful scenery, the top images from an Instagram competition will be framed and exhibited during the festival. Entry details on the website  www.junctionfestival.com

To further celebrate local creativity, an Artist’s Cabin will be situated on the upper carpark for the festival. Launched in May 2019, the Solar Studio company is the brainchild of Clonmel’s Martin Carey and Pat O'Donnell who have designed and constructed Ireland’s first Solar powered office/life space. Each

Solar Studio provides a work life balance that is truly environmentally friendly, comfortable, convenient and most importantly, cost effective, and both the creators and the festival see it as an ideal artist’s studio - although it has many other applications.

“We’re delighted to bring together an innovative Clonmel company and an artist for this year’s festival. Clonmel’s technical and industrial ingenuity is very much part of our town’s story, and the idea of an artist in residence at a local company is something that we’d like to develop further” said Clíona Maher.

People can drop by the Artist’s Cabin to see the cabin itself and the artist at work to showcase their art and to answer questions. There will also be an opportunity to pick up a paintbrush as the STAG art group will host morning plein air painting sessions, open to all and meeting at the Artist’s Cabin. 

Families can participate in daily afternoon art workshops and join in the creative fun.

There will be a public piano during the festival, allowing our musical talent to be on show, and the festival staff hope that piano enthusiasts of all ages will drop by to play it.

As part of the Festival’s Sense of Place programme, designed to encourage people to celebrate our beautiful landscape, the festival also offers you the chance to get out of town and into the mountains, in partnership with Peaks Mountaineering Club.

There will be three mystery hill walks where a bus leaves the Artist’s Cabin at Showgrounds for a guided walk with experienced hillwalkers. Wear suitable clothing and strong footwear and bring a rain jacket, water and a light lunch.

There will also be two walking events to help us see the mountains from a different angle. The Folklore Walk will leave from Kilcash Castle, offering insight into the fascinating stories and history of Slievnamon and renowned local photographer John Kelly will offer a photography workshop in the mountains, honing insight into composition and using natural light.

For further details on any of the events, visit the festival box office at Showgrounds or go to