Lodestar | Leuven 2023


2023 Applications now closed

6 - 18 August 2023
Irish College in Leuven

 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 we are making a slight departure with Lodestar | Leuven 2023 being held at the 17th century Irish College in the beautiful city of Leuven, Belgium.

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

Guest artists rotate from year to year, pending availability, so not all are teaching at the same time. Since 2014 guest artists include painters, poets, art critics, writers, thinkers, academics, art historians, and performance artists:

Robert Armstrong – John Brady – Squeak Carnwath – Ceara Conway – Diana Copperwhite – Nora Duggan – Stuart Elster – Patrick Michael Fitzgerald – Judy Glantzman – Glenn Goldberg – Francis Gury – Sharon Horvath – Eddie Kennedy – Juul Kraijer – Erin Lawlor – Elizabeth Magill – Brian Maguire – Alice Maher – Melissa Meyer – Dr Aisling Molloy – Mary O’Malley – Hanneline Røgeberg – Anne Ryan – Dr Jennifer Samet – Barry Schwabsky – Louise Scovell – Dermot Seymour – Dannielle Tegeder – Milly Thompson – Chuck Webster – John Yau

Plus other distinguished guests.


Lodestar | Leuven 2023 will be conducted primarily in English.

The Programme

Lodestar | Leuven 2023 is an intensive 10-day residency of painting and drawing in the historic city of Leuven, Belgium at the 17th century Irish College in Leuven. 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:

Individual One-on-One Critiques

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 Reception

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 in the Irish College’s large shared studio spaces—or outside in the gardens. Evenings include a Guest Artist talk about their work, or a performance of music or poetry before dinner. Dinner is not provided at the college, however, there are numerous options just a few minutes away in Leuven city centre. Following dinner people are free to return to work or relax on the terrace. 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 four days. The last day is spent hanging the works-in-progress to be showcased in the evening, followed by a closing reception.

“Since Lodestar last year I got accepted into the Utopia Dystopia exhibition in the Lexicon Municipal Gallery in Dun Laoghaire and also to the Artnet Fire exhibition and Air Exhibition. I was also asked to exhibit a piece for Artnet for inclusion in the launch of their bid for an art centre in the Carnegie Library. I think the fact that I got my work into these shows was very much due to my time in Lodestar and the invaluable support and mentoring. “

Ann Mulcrone, Ireland, Lodestar 2019

“I felt privileged to be in the company of internationally renowned artists and critics from Europe and the U.S.A. and amazed by how generous they were with their time, giving us lots of encouragement, help and advice. I particularly enjoyed the talks each artist would give in the evenings about their own work and practice. It made for a relaxing end to the day. We worked hard alongside the visiting artists – wonderful people who were a real inspiration. There was a great sense of shared purpose and acceptance in a positive atmosphere. I made new friends for life and there is nothing I would like better than to meet them at Lodestar School of Art again in the future.”

Lorna Roberts, BA Honours (Fine Art), Sligo Institute of Technology, Ireland / Lodestar 2014, 2015, 2017

Key Dates

26 December 2022: Registration Opens, Accepting Applications

1 March 2023: Early Bird Application Deadline

31 March: Early Bird Registration Deadline (full payment required)

1 April: Application Deadline for “Student Rate”

1 May: Application Deadline

1 June: Registration closes, balance of fees due (cancellation deadline)

6 August: Arrival, orientation and welcoming reception (Sunday)

7 – 16 August: Programme session

17 August: Showcase of works-in-progress and closing reception (Thursday)

18 August: Departure (Friday)

Guest Artists 2023

[ subject to change ]


Denis Farrell, founder and director of Lodestar School of Art, attended the New York Studio School, and then earned his MFA in Painting from Yale University School of Art. He has exhibited in New York, California, Boston, France and Ireland with museum exhibitions at The Dock and Limerick City Gallery of Art. Farrell is represented by Taylor Galleries, Dublin.

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Elizabeth Magill was born in Canada and studied at the Belfast College of Art, Ireland and the Slade School of Art, London.  Magill’s work is represented in museum and public collections worldwide including TATE, London; The Irish Museum of Modern Art; The Arts Council of England; The Arts Council of Ireland; The British Museum, London; The British Council; the National Gallery of Australia; among others.

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Stuart Elster, holds  a BFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of the Arts and an MFA in Painting and Printmaking from the Yale University School of Art. Stuart has been represented by Junior Projects Gallery, Lucas Schoormans and Tate Galleries. In New York his work as been exhibited at Sala Projects Gallery, Junior Projects Gallery, Lucas Schoormans, Tate, Marvelli, Schroeder Romero and Nicole Klagsburn Galleries.

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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 is represented by Jason McCoy.

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Juul Kraijer graduated from the Rotterdam Academy of Fine Arts in 1994. Her drawings, photographs, sculptures and videos have been shown widely, among others in the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art  (2009) and the Kochi Muziris Biennale (India, 2018). Her work is represented in public collections internationally, including MoMA, New York;  MONA, Tasmania; Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf; Kupferstichkabinett Berlin; Museum Moderner Kunst Vienna;  Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris and several Dutch museums.

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Patrick Michael Fitzgerald is an Irish artist who lives and works in Vizcaya, Spain. He earned his BA and MA in Fine Art Painting from the Chelsea School of Art in London. He has exhibited widely in Europe and elsewhere with work collected by the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; OPW (The Irish State Collection); ARTIUM – Centro-Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporáneo, Vitoria, Spain and the Albers Foundation, USA, among others.

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Cristín Leach is one of Ireland’s leading art critics. She has worked in print, TV, radio, and digital media since 1998, and published in The Sunday Times Ireland since 2003. Her writing on art has also been published in Irish Arts Review, Circa Magazine, and by the Irish national broadcaster RTÉ.ie. Her memoir Negative Space was published by Merrion Press in 2022.

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An Australian-American who lives and works between Australia and Brooklyn, NY and has exhibited throughout the USA and in Australia. She has received a Joan Mitchell Foundation award and her work is collected privately in the USA, Australia and UK, with work in the permanent collection of MOCA, Jacksonville, Florida. She has recently taught at the New York Studio School, Art Students League of New York and Pratt Institute.

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The Schedule

[ subject to change ]

6 August, Sunday

Arrival + Orientation


Welcome Reception

7 August, Monday

Set Up Studio Spaces

Guest Talk:

Fran O’Neill

8 August, Tuesday

Individual Tutorials

Guest Talk:

Stuart Elster

9 August, Wednesday

Individual Tutorials

Guest Talk:

Glenn Goldberg

10 August, Thursday

Individual Tutorials

Guest Talk:

Michael Patrick Fitzgerald

11 August, Friday

Individual Tutorials

Guest Talk:


12 August, Saturday


(No Talk)

13 August, Sunday

Individual Tutorials

Guest Talk:

Juul Kraijer

14 August, Monday

Individual Tutorials

Guest Talk:

Cristín Leach

15 August, Tuesday

Individual Tutorials

Guest Talk:

Elizabeth Magill

16 August, Wednesday

Studio Day

Guest Talk:


17 August, Thursday

Hang Work for Showcase of Work-in-Progress


Showcase + Closing Reception

18 August, Friday


The Story

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.

“When I fist applied, I was very curious, not knowing, what it really is, Lodestar. I was really looking for education that could bring me further in my professional art work. I was not looking for a ‘summer camp’ or workshops. I found that ‘further education’ for professionals is something missing. And this is what Lodestar really was/is. So wonderful and unique! And at the same time meeting artists/teachers from all over the world who were great at ‘picking up’ every participant at the point of he/his stage in their work.”

Swiss artist Victorine Müller is a performance artist who also makes sculpture/installation work (and more recently video). She came to Lodestar to develop her drawings. Her work from Lodestar (2014/2018) culminated in solo exhibitions in Zurich and Berlin.

“…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 beautiful and historic environs of Leuven
  • 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 1 May 2023:

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 €300 deposit (non-refundable) upon notification. The balance is due within 4 weeks of offer (and no later than 1 June 2023), or contact Connie Farrell regarding an alternative payment schedule.

NOTE: The Early Bird application deadline is 1 March 2023, and full payment of €2,390 Early Bird Rate must be received by 31 March 2023.

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

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

Student Rate

  • All Talks, Events, Excursions
  • Closing Showcase + Reception
  • Shared 4-Person Duplex + Breakfast and Lunch
  • Application Deadline 1 April
  • Please provide home university ID
  • Fees deadline 1 June (full payment due)
  • Deposit is non-refundable

Early Bird Rate

  • All Talks, Events, Excursions
  • Closing Showcase + Reception
  • Private Ensuite Room + Breakfast and Lunch
  • Application Deadline 1 March
  • Fees Deadline 31 March (full payment due)
  • Deposit is non-refundable

Regular Rate

  • All Talks, Events, Excursions
  • Closing Showcase + Reception
  • Private Ensuite Room + Breakfast and Lunch
  • Application Deadline 1 May
  • Fees Deadline 1 June (full payment due)
  • Deposit is non-refundable

Irish College Leuven

Lodestar | Leuven 2023 is held at the historic Irish College in Leuven in Belgium (Janseniusstraat 1, map) which was established as a Franciscan College in 1607 by Flaithrí Ó Maolchonaire (Florence Conry, 1560-1629) under the patronage of the King of Spain. One of 34 such colleges which were established right across Europe, it remained throughout the 17th century a renowned as a centrefor academic excellence. The font for the printing of Irish was developed at the college, which set the standard for 350 years.

In the early 1980’s the Irish Franciscans generously made the historic Irish College in Leuven available to the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe ivzw for development as a resource for the people of Ireland. The Irish College in Leuven was founded in 1607 by the Irish Franciscan, Florence Conry, who was himself the product of an Irish College, having studied in Salmanca. The Archdukes Albert and Isabella, co-rulers of the Spanish Netherlands, took a keen interest in the fortunes of the college and personally attended the ceremony to lay the foundation stone of the building in 1617.

The role of the Irish College as a focal point of Irish and European affairs was already demonstrated in the winter of 1607 when Florence Conry brought Hugh O’Neill and his retinue to Leuven following their departure from Ireland in what became known as the Flight of the Earls.

In the 17th century an extensive intellectual, diplomatic, religious and political network extended its influences from the Irish College into universities, religious orders, the courts of France, Spain and the Papacy. Actions initiated in the Irish College were felt not only in Ireland but in England and across Europe.


Irish College in Leuven is fully accessible to wheelchair users and those with restricted mobility. Our reception desk, conference rooms, auditorium, dining area, and bedroom accommodation are all located on the ground floor with supporting services. The first and second floors of the building are accessible via two passenger lifts in the building.

Getting Here

Leuven (Louvain) is situated in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium (the region of Flanders), about 30 kilometres from the nation’s capital, Brussels. It is mostly known as a university town, being the location of the oldest university in the Low Countries, founded in 1425.

Most international travellers will arrive in Brussels: either at the Brussels National Airport or at railway station Brussels Midi (station of arrival for international trains, Eurostar or Thalys). In both cases, the cheapest and easiest way to travel from Brussels to Leuven is by train. Although taxies are readily available and can be convenient, they are quite expensive. Train connections are reliable and frequent. The journey takes no more than 20 minutes. Tickets can be bought at the station. For more information, please visit the Belgian railway website where you can consult timetables.

NOTE: Beware that Brussels South Airport is not located in Brussels, but in Charleroi. From there it is still a two-hour journey to Leuven.


Private ensuite rooms (all with private bathrooms)  are provided in the Irish College in Leuven.

Student rate accommodation is in a shared 4-person duplex with its own bathroom. Proof of student registration required. Please enquire about special student group rates available for  groups of four or more.


Breakfast and lunch are provided at the Irish College. Breakfast includes a choice of cereals, breads, fresh croissants, boiled eggs, cold meats, cheeses, yogurts, tea and coffee. Lunch is a hot buffet. Meals will cater for various dietary requirements.

There are numerous options for dinner in Leuven city centre, just a few minutes away

  • Lodestar School of Art, Cregg, Oughterard, Co Galway H91 W5P6 IRELAND | info@lodestarschoolofart.com