Free Market, the Irish National Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, won widespread acclaim for its exploration of the unique identity of Irish rural towns when it showed in Venice in 2018. It is now preparing to bring this ambitious exhibition back to four towns as part of its National Tour.
The vital role that market places play in the life of rural communities will be celebrated and explored with local communities in four towns as Free Market embarks on its National Tour to Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan; Macroom, Co. Cork; Mountmellick, Co. Laois; and Killmallock, Co. Limerick.
Curated by a team of six architects and designers, Free Market aims to reassert the declining rural market square as a public place of social, political and cultural exchange, central to community cohesion. Once the economic and social hubs of rural Ireland, many market squares in these towns have seen their function as a place for exchange and congregation diminished. Many others have surrendered their role as markets and are now used only for car parking.
Free Market first launched in Venice in May 2018 as the Irish National Pavilion at La Biennale Architettura, where it occupied a large space in the Arsenale as a space for exchange for six months. In November 2018, the pavilion and exhibition was shipped back to Ireland and the curatorial team have been preparing an evolved design of the pavilion which will be bespoke for each of the four towns that it visits, landing in public spaces, inhabiting vacant spaces, coinciding with festivals and market days and, on its final stop, setting up shop in Killmallock library.
‘Having begun the conversation about rural towns in Venice last year, we are looking forward to continuing the discussion about the challenges facing rural towns on the ground during the National Tour,’ says co-curator Miriam Delaney.
National Tour Towns and Dates
Castleblayney, County Monaghan, 4-8th July
Macroom, County Cork, 21-23rd July
Mountmellick, County Laois, 5-8th September
Kilmallock, County Limerick, 19-22nd September