Icon Factory Dublin Interview With Aga Szot

 

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(c) Icon Factory Ltd / Icon Walk Ltd 

All major cities have art museums. A large metropolis like Dublin is no exception, it has quite a few. But great art I find is always down at street level. Great nonprofit experiences like Dublin’s The Icon Walk/The Icon Factory represent great art. It’s art  that is alive and kinetic, even if it is a few static pieces. Color and subject can make it vibe. I love my mural walks and planned to tour this one next month. In preparation for my trip I contacted Aga Szot at The Icon Factory for a interview to share with you. I am hoping you can come take a stroll with us in Dublin on this fine walking experience. Stay tuned as I will visit and review the experience for you.

Come realize the power of art to help create a clean and safe Environment for all. Please visit their website and donate if you can to help keep this great experience going for all.

How did your museum get it’s start, and how have you seen it grow in the last five years?

Since its establishment The Icon Walk/The Icon Factory has become a highly rated tourists destination in international tour guides, rating higher than Dublin Castle & The Photographic Archive, and has received an endorsement by the UNESCO City of Literature office as an important site for the celebration of Irish literary talent and culture. We have been featured in many national newspapers, tourguides including the front page of the Arts and Culture page of the New York Times.

When we moved into Aston Place in 2010, the surrounding lane ways were in a sorry state, filthy and run down. It was an illegal dumping ground, a harbour for drug-taking,often used as a public toilet and a festering den of petty-criminality. We couldn’t believe that a half mile of lanes in the heart of Dublin’s business and tourist district would be allowed to fall into such a state of dilapidation. In 2010 we began work on the Icon Walk, a series of panels showcasing key Irish cultural icons also The Icon Factory Gallery when we show emerging artists work on a regular base. Once an area to be avoided, the lanes are now a mostly safe, vibrant destination for walking tours and average citizens, also more and more artists are taking part in exhibitions.

Our maintaining the area and preventing its reverting to its previous conditions is reflected by both increasing foot and online traffic. Google has reached out to us to inform us that 10,000 people a month see and search information about our project, check our activities and find us.

All our events are free created to encourage cultural activities for adults and children are fully booked every year. Aga’s Szot studio is one and unique life painting studio experimental installation in Dublin.

There are clear benefits in the increased number of artists, internship and volunteers taking part in the project. Every year the numbers of visitors increases daily, over 200% in 5 years, fourfold increase in tour groups. The Art Festival footfall increased 300% per day over previous years according to our visitor book. Our project encourages locals to care about the area their work.

Has there been anything surprising that happened that you just ran with in an opportunity to create an exhibit?

We now find ourselves playing the leading role in creating cultural & educational experience in Temple Bar including public art installations, art events and activities, keeping area safe and clean, making people feel respected and the area safe without as much as even one Euro of public money.

We were able to provide space to artist for their exhibitions, creations of new artworks for The Icon Walk, and create a Summer Cultural Festival in the lanes during which we opened the new sections to the public.

To this date we held exhibitions by over 50 artists over seven years. In many cases these have been the first exhibition by the artist. Unlike most galleries we do not charge for exhibition space. All we ask is for one image from the artist that we can use in our merchandise to help ‘keep the lights on’. We give facilities to artists to print and sell their works. We give advice and encouragement to the artist in planning their exhibition. We ensure that the money raised from sales goes back to the artist. In this regard we have become a hub for local talent.

What do you consider the most challenging part of running a museum of your kind?

The Icon Project is registered charity and fully based on volunteers. If the Icon Factory could survive on goodwill alone, then the future of the project would be secured for many years to come. We have had thousands of visitors through our doors over the past few years, all expressing admiration and enthusiasm for what we have accomplished but reluctant to give funds.

The Icon project fully depend on funding and every year our big challenge is to get funding for a basic running costs. Despite the previous  years supports Icon Factory received no funding for 2017.

After several years depending on once off funding we now recognise that the Icon Project needs a regular funding base and this is most challenging part for us.

What is the planning process for creating new exhibits? Do you have any behind the scenes video or articles that future visitors can look at?

We have a  good few short documentaries made about our project which you can check on the links below:

Is there a committee that decides to feature something or a finding that becomes available and you build around that? Or does the planning involve a specific structure?

Board members of registered charities are involved in application process for the exhibition. Artist are asked to provide their portfolio and cover letter. After positive application process artists meet with the members to discuss process of setting up the exhibition and work on the featured Icon which will be donated to The Icon Walk project.  

It’s the 2017 season coming and what are your plans for exhibits this coming year?

This year our exhibition season is planned on a monthly base case no funding crisis.

Do your exhibitions centre on the local only or do you have art and future or contemporary issues come into play occasionally?

All artists locals and international are welcome to apply for the exhibition at the gallery including different art disciplines starting from classical art, drawing, paintings, sculpturing, photography, installations and conceptual work.

It’s the 2017 season coming and what are your plans for exhibits this coming year?

At the moment The Icon Project is reviewing its financial situation and no further exhibitions are planned till the end of September.

The Icon Factory is located in the Temple Bar District of Dublin.

Location

The Icon Factory

Aston Place

Temple bar

Dublin 2

Ireland

iconfactorydublin@gmail.com

Opening Hours

Mon – Sun 11.00am – 6.00pm

For more information:

http://iconfactorydublin.ie/newsite/the-icon-walk/

https://www.facebook.com/TheIconFactory

Videos on Vimeo

Bob Geldof, Sinéad O’Connor and others https://vimeo.com/user33528482

More:

Art Walks: Spring in the UK and Ireland

Science Gallery Dublin