Lodestar | Ireland 2017


13-25 AUGUST 2017
Glenstal Abbey

About Lodestar

Lodestar School of Art was founded in 2014 by painter Denis Farrell as an alternative to traditional academic pressures—where willingness to fail is a triumph, and to take a risk is key to crossing the Rubicon.

Each summer a formidable group of artists come together to work, discuss, share and reflect in an out of the way location that features stunning natural beauty. This year Lodestar | Ireland 2017 will be held in the spectacular environs of Glenstal Abbey in the West of Ireland.

Lodestar offers an open and reflective environment for students to take the creative and radical departure artists must seek in order to thrive. It’s a non-judgmental place where approval doesn’t need to be sought.

“The Lodestar School of Art is a summer school with a difference [and]could be described as an interruption and a temporary alternative to conventional academic art education. [Denis Farrell] aimed to attract artists who wanted to develop their work – to shake it up and move it on—and who wanted some informed critical input and real conversation about making art and about the theoretical underpinning that informs its making. – The idea is that no one is a passive or conventionally authoritative participant. Everyone works, whether that means painting, drawing, talking, writing or thinking, and everything is up for grabs. At the start of the 10 days, Farrell relished that he was not quite sure what was going to happen.” – Aidan Dunne , from “Art School with a Difference” The Irish Times 28 Aug 2014

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Guest Artists

Past and returning Guest Artists include painters, poets, art critics, writers, thinkers, academics, art historians, and performance artists:

John Brady – Squeak Carnwath – Ceara Conway – Michael David – Nora Duggan – Glenn Goldberg – Francis Gury – Alice Maher – Aisling Molloy – Helen O’Leary – Mary O’Malley – Barry Schwabsky – Louise Scovell – Dermot Seymour – Millie Thompson – Chuck Webster – John Yau

Plus other distinguished guests.


Lodestar | Ireland 2017 will be conducted primarily in English.

The Programme

Lodestar | Ireland 2017 is an intensive 10-day residency of painting and drawing in the West of Ireland at the stunning Glenstal Abbey and Castle. Led by internationally recognised artists and critics from Europe and the US, students will be immersed in making, discussion and reflection combined with critical dialogue, structured around:

  • Group Critiques
  • Individual One-on-One Critiques
  • Workshops/demonstrations
  • Talks from Guest Artists
  • Evening Events and Excursions to include Studio Visits, Museums, Galleries, Poetry, Music and Performance
  • Showcase of Works-in-Progress and Closing Dinner


Lodestar offers an open and reflective environment for students to take the creative and radical departure artists must seek in order to thrive. What makes it interesting is that it’s non-judgmental–it’s a place where approval doesn’t need to be sought, and the willingness to fail is a triumph. Students will be working alongside internationally recognised artists who share in this spirit of generosity. They will be mentored on an individual basis, with access to all guest artists. A fluid and relaxed exchange between guest artists and students—based on rigorous engagement—is designed to support the development of a chosen body of work. The atmosphere is generous, however, the session is decidedly rigorous and rewarding.

Mornings and afternoons are spent working, thinking, reflecting and working some more in Glenstal Abbey’s large shared studio spaces—or outside among the 500 acre woodlands. Evenings include a Guest Artist talk about their work, or a performance of music or poetry before everyone gathers for dinner. Following dinner people are free to return to work or relax in the stunning environs of Glenstal. The first five days of the session are studio intensive, then we take one day for an excursion, before returning to the studio to continue for another three days. The last day is spent hanging the works-in-progress to be sing showcase in the evening, followed by a closing dinner.

Key Dates

17 April – Registration Open: Accepting applications

15 May – Early Bird Registration Deadline (full payment required)

 1 July – Application Deadline

 15 July – Registration Closes: Deadline to finalise balance

 13 August – Arrival and welcome dinner

 14 – 24 August – Programme session

24 August – Showcase of works-in-progress Closing Dinner ”

25 August – Departure




Denis Farrell was born in Ireland, and after graduating from Limerick School of Art Farrell started exhibiting his work at Taylor Galleries in Dublin. In 1989 Farrell attended the New York Studio School, and then received his MFA in Painting from Yale University School of Art in 1993…

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John Yau has published books of poetry, fiction, and criticism. Recent publications include Further Adventures in Monochrome (Copper Canyon Press, 2012), A Thing Among Things: The Art of Jasper Johns (D.A.P/Distributed Arts Publishers, 2008) and Exhibits (Letter Machine Editions, 2010). In 1999…

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MICHAEL DAVID was born in Reno, NV, grew up in Brooklyn, NY and earned his BFA from Parsons School of Design. His work is collected by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenhiem, the Jewish Museum, NY, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among …

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ALICE MAHER’s practice comprises many different media including drawing, sculpture, installation, print, photography, and more recently animation. In 2012 the Irish Museum of Modern Art presented a mid-career retrospective of her work. She is represented by Purdy Hicks Gallery London and Nolan Gallery in NYC.

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Glenn Goldberg was born in the Bronx, NY, studied at the New York Studio School and received his MFA from Queens College. His work is collected by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery, Brooklyn Museum of Art, and LACMA, plus others. Goldberg has shown in New York, Boston, St Louis, and Munich, and

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Chuck Webster is from Binghamton, New York, and was educated at Oberlin College, American University and Brooklyn. His work appears in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Baltimore Museum. He has shown in New York, Boston, Copenhagen, Cologne, London, Cincinnati and other locations..

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HELEN O’LEARY studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago (MFA) before Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture. She is the recipient of two Pollock-Krasner awards and Guggenheim Fellowship. She currently teaches at Penn State and is represented by Leslie Heller, NYC.

The Schedule

13 August, Sunday



Welcome Dinner

14 August, Monday


Set Up Studio Spaces



15 August, Tuesday

Individual Tutorials

Guest Talk:

Denis Farrell

16 August, Wednesday

Individual Tutorials

Guest Talk:

Alice Maher

17 August, Thursday

Individual Tutorials

Guest Talk:

Glenn Goldberg

18 August, Friday

Studio Day


Mary O’Malley + Ceara Conway

19 August, Saturday

Excursion (TBD)

20 August, Sunday

Studio Day

Guest Talk:

John Yau

21 August, Monday

Studio visits with John Yau

Guest Talk:

Chuck Webster

22 August, Tuesday

Individual Tutorials

Guest Talk:

Helen O’Leary

23 August, Wednesday

Hang Work for Showcase of Work-in-Progress

Guest Talk:

Michael David

24 August, Thursday

Group + Individual Critique(s)


Showcase + Closing Dinner

*Subject to change


Lodestar School of Art started as a series of conversations and debates Denis Farrell had with other artists about education. At a certain point—while sitting around the table sharing ideas, enthusiasm and a meal—it became obvious there was a need to start something a little different.

There has been a documented rise in debate and disillusionment with traditional systems of art education of late, evidenced in the recent number of alternative art schools that have sprung up in the UK, US and beyond. The language of art school academia now is not the language of ‘creativity’, but rather institutional research and rhetoric. The real work is about remaining inquisitive and relentless…and staying in the work,” emphasises Lodestar Founder and Director, Denis Farrell.

Lodestar’s premise is quite simple: bring together students and artists from around the world who share the same level of commitment and ambition for the work. Guest artists will get space to work, students and guest artists will work alongside each other, it will be studio intensive yet informed by critical input from artists, critics and historians, and complemented by talks from guest artists (about whatever they choose). The atmosphere is meant to be relaxed, but highly productive where neither guest artist nor student remains passive.

Founder Denis Farrell is an abstract painter originally from Ireland who received a Fulbright Scholarship for Fine Art, and used it to pursue painting at the New York Studio School in Manhattan in 1990. He then accepted a full scholarship to do his MFA in Painting at Yale University School of Art (1993). Farrell maintained studios in New Haven, Connecticut and in New York City while exhibiting in New York, Boston and Ireland. In 1997 Farrell founded Bingo Hall, a contemporary art space, in Williamsburg Brooklyn, to exhibit the work of a diverse group of international artists not represented by the commercial gallery system. Nan Annan, wife of Kofi Annan—former Secretary General of the UN, opened the gallery. Since 2000 Farrell has been dividing his time between Ireland and France. In New York Farrell’s work turned toward the grid developing large and quiet abstract paintings with a brush stroke that seemed to knit the oils on the surface, and more recently smaller, feisty watercolour and ink works on paper housed in handmade, cloth-bound boxes.

“…the tactile resonance of [Farrell’s] intimate surfaces keeps my eye steady in the centre of the force-field, signalling solitude without fear of recompense. No equivocation resides in my desire to experience the depth of his surfaces. These paintings are about intimacy, offering a subtle potion against an encroaching standardization that pressures artists to bend to the trends of globalization. With Farrell, the force- field is secure. There will be no giving-in.”

Robert C. Morgan, The Intimate Palimpsest, 
catalogue essay (New Paintings 2005) 


To apply please provide the following information by the Application Deadline of 1 July 2017:

1. Register Online
Please complete the online registration form with your details at www.lodestarschoolofart.com

2. Show Us Your Work
Email us 5-10 images (max) of your work or provide a link to an online portfolio. Kindly send images to info@lodestarschoolofart.com

3. Let Us Know Your Expectations
Include a brief statement (a paragraph) indicating what you hope to get from your stay

4. Accept Your Place
Candidates will be notified by email within 5-10 days of their application. To accept your place please submit the €250 deposit (non-refundable) upon notification. The balance is due within 2 weeks of offer, or contact Connie Farrell regarding an alternative payment schedule.

NOTE: For the Early Bird Rate of €1,995 full payment must be received by 15 May 2017

5. Questions?
Please contact Connie Farrell, School Coordinator at info@lodestarschoolofart.com

Please Note: All students must be 18 years old or older, and provide proof of age (for insurance purposes).

Who Should Apply

  • We welcome artists at all levels who have ambition for their work and who are willing to take the creative risks necessary to develop it.
  • Artists who seek critical input on a body of work to serve as a portfolio for application to graduate courses.
  • Artists who seek rigorous and intensive exchange concerning both studio work and critical thinking, in a creative and professional environment.

What To Expect

  • To immerse in painting and drawing
  • To enjoy the company of others
  • To take in the raw and beautiful environs of the West of Ireland
  • To think, to reflect, to take risks
  • And to be brave

10-Day Residency:

  • All Workshops
  • Talks, Events, Excursions
  • Closing Exhibition and Dinner
  • Private Accommodation, Breakfast + 2 daily meals
  • Transfer to/from Limerick City

Early Registration
10-Day Residency

  • All Workshops
  • Talks, Events, Excursions
  • Closing Exhibition and Dinner
  • Private Accommodation, Breakfast + 2 daily meals
  • Transfers to/from Limerick City


  • A non-refundable deposit required upon registration.
  • Private Accommodation
  • All rooms offer single, private accommodation
  • Bathroom shared by 2 rooms

Glenstal Abbey & Castle

Lodestar | Ireland 2017 is held at the stunning Glenstal Abbey, a Benedictine monastery and boarding school located in County Limerick on the Wild Atlantic Way. Glenstal has 500 acres of woodland with streams and lakes. The word “Glenstal” means The Glen of the Stallion, and is an English rendering of the Irish Gleann Stail. The glen is a very impressive geological feature, consisting of a mile-long valley, formed during the last ice-age. It is rich in all kinds of wild flowers, but is especially famous for its Killarney Fern.

Glenstal Castle was designed by William Bardwell, an English architect, who evidently intended Glenstal to look like a 12c castle, for when he inscribed his name on the turret Bardwell me fecit (Bardwell made me), he added the date 1839, but cut in such a way as to look like 1139. Glenstal is a Norman Revivalist Castle, with a Windsor-style round tower, all fronted with an impressive facade and Norman gatehouse. Its design is unique as a mixture of architectural fantasy features from the past of both England and Ireland, combining Anglo-Norman and Irish Romanesque. The main building faces south, and commands an unbroken view thirty miles towards the Galtee Mountains.

Glenstal’s interior is noted for its highly unusual decorative carvings in the Celtic or Irish Romanesque style on the library capitals, stairs and door surrounds. In 1925 Sir Charles Barrington offered his County Limerick home, Glenstal Castle, to the Irish Free State as an official residence for any future head of state. The proposal was considered seriously, however, ultimately the existing viceregal lodge at Phoenix Park (now Áras an Uachtaráin) was chosen, and the Benedictine order of monks later acquired the castle. It remains in their care and is now known as Glenstal Abbey, a distinguished private boarding school.


Single, private rooms are provided in the Glenstal Abbey School dorms. Because they are student dorm rooms, please understand that they are small. Each room shares a bathroom with one other room. Linen is provided; a weekly laundry service is also provided.


All meals are prepared by our on site caterer including breakfast with one hot option, a two-course hot lunch, and dinner in the evening. Vegetarian, vegan and celiac options are available.