Ask about our “Tell a Friend” policy

Lodestar | Ireland 2018


5-17 AUGUST 2018
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 2018 will return to 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

View Full Article

Guest Artists

Guest Artists since 2014 include painters, poets, art critics, writers, thinkers, academics, art historians, and performance artists:

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

Plus other distinguished guests.


Lodestar | Ireland 2018 will be conducted primarily in English.

The Programme

Lodestar | Ireland 2018 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

1 December: Registration Open: Accepting applications

1 February: Early Bird Application Deadline

28 February: Early Bird Registration Deadline (full payment required)

15 May: Application Deadline

15 June: Registration Closes (deadline to finalise balance)

5 August: Arrival and welcome dinner

6 – 15 August: Programme session

16 August: Showcase of works-in-progress and Closing Dinner

17 August: Departure

Guest Artists 2018


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 earned his MFA in Painting from Yale University School of Art in 1993. From 1994 until 1999 Farrell maintained studios in New York City and New Haven…

Read more..


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 is represented by Jason McCoy…

Read more..


Judy Glantzman studied at the Rhode Island School of Deisgn. Her work is collected by the Whitney, Grey Art Gallery, the Phoenix Art Museum, among others. She is the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, NY Foundation for the Arts Grant, and the Pollock-Krasner award. She lives and works in NYC and is represented by Betty Cunningham Gallery, NYC.

Read more..


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.

Read more..



John yau has published books of poetry, fiction, and criticism. Recent publications include The Wild Children of William Blake (2017), Thomas Nozkowski (2017), and Further Adventures in Monochrome (2012). In 2012 he started the online magazine Hyperallergic Weekend with three other writers. In 1999 Yau started Black Square…

Read more..


Diana Copperwhite lives and works in Dublin. Her work is collected by the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Arts Council of Ireland, and in collections in the US, Europe and Australia. Copperwhite has exhibited extensively in Ireland, Europe and NYC, and is represented by 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, NYC and Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin.

Read more..


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..

Read more..


Helen O’Leary studied at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin and at the Art Institute in Chicago (MFA) before Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture. She has received two Pollock-Krasner awards and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She currently teaches at Penn State has been a visiting artist at colleges around the world.

The Schedule

5 August, Sunday



Welcome Dinner

6 August, Monday

Orientation + Set Up Studio Spaces



7 August, Tuesday

Individual Tutorials

Guest Talk:

Denis Farrell

8 August, Wednesday

Individual Tutorials

Guest Talk:

Alice Maher

9 August, Thursday

Individual Tutorials

Guest Talk:

Glenn Goldberg

10 August, Friday

Studio Day


Poetry / Performance

11 August, Saturday

Excursion (TBD)

12 August, Sunday

Studio Day

Guest Talk:

Judy Glantzman

13 August, Monday

Studio visits with John Yau

Guest Talk:

Chuck Webster

14 August, Tuesday

Individual Tutorials

Guest Talk:

Helen O’Leary

15 August, Wednesday

Hang Work for Showcase of Work-in-Progress

(No Talk / Event)

16 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) 

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

How To Apply

To apply please provide the following information by the Application Deadline of 15 May 2018:

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: Early bird application deadline is 1 February, and full payment of €1,995 early bird rate must be received by 28 February 2018.

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).


  • Please register your details
  • Submit your application materials
  • Pay deposit to accept your place
  • Deposit is non-refundable

Normal Registration

  • All Talks, Events, Excursions
  • Closing Exhibition + Dinner
  • Private Accommodation + All Meals
  • Transfer to/from Limerick City
  • Application Deadline 15 May

Early Registration

  • All Talks, Events, Excursions
  • Closing Exhibition + Dinner
  • Private Accommodation + All Meals
  • Transfer to/from Limerick City
  • Application Deadline 1 Feb (fees due 28 Feb)

Glenstal Abbey & Castle

Lodestar | Ireland 2018 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 with shared bathrooms are provided in the Glenstal Abbey School dorms. Because they are student dorm rooms, please understand that they are small. Linen is provided; a weekly laundry service is also provided.

**A limited number of private en-suite rooms are available at an additional surcharge. Please enquire.**


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.