AAEX at SEEK 2021

We are delighted to have been invited to take part in the SEEK Festival 2021. AAEX member Michael Stafford provided lively spray-painting workshops for children and teenagers, Jenny Slater held a Cyanotype workshop with Creative Spark Print Studio, also presented by print studio coordinator Grainne Murphy with her brand new mobile pop-up print studio, the “Pedal Press, while the rest of the team invited the public to help completing a giant block puzzle, assembled for some play time on the square on 7th August 2021.

Some photos from prep work

First Fortnight 2020: I Am What I Am

On 15th January 2020, Creative Spark, hosted its fourth free First Fortnight event in association with Inspire Wellbeing, Belfast, again inviting everyone to bring their art and creativity out of the home or studio and into the community.

Alongside a musical warm up by Dundalk based singer and artist Sophie Coyle and music and writing presented by Inspire Wellbeing, AAEX members provided participatory visual arts activities and presentations.

  • Sew Happy – creative stitching (Úna Curley)
  • Sweet wrapper collage (Ciara Agnew)
  • Mono-printing (James McLoughlin)
  • Blind drawing (Bernhard Gaul, using postcards by John Moloney)
  • Meet the artist presentation (Claire Conway)

First Fortnight is a charity that challenges mental health prejudice through arts and cultural action. It aims to make the First Fortnight of each year synonymous with mental health awareness, challenging prejudice and ending stigma.


Drogheda Arts Festival 2019

AAEX will be present at the Drogheda Arts Festival again. This year we teamed up with Creative Spark to set up a pop-up print studio and lantern making factory as part of Roll Up Roll Up at St. Dominic’s Park.

Try mono printing, screen printing, using lino cuts and other techniques, like drawing, watercolours, calligraphy or collages to assemble your own lantern made from recycled materials.



Hands-on and Other Gatherings

AAEX members meet more or less regularly every 2 weeks. The usual meeting date is Wednesday, 7pm, but we are flexible when needed and recently started adding morning gatherings, which are better suited for some members.

Gatherings are sometimes of a social nature or we meet for exhibition openings, often for our own members or other local artists, but mostly we meet in the Creative Spark print studio to “get our hands dirty”.

Hands-on gatherings are often of a skills-exchange nature, with somebody hosting a demonstration or workshop. But at times we also meet to produce something together, or even just bring in our own projects and work alongside each other.

Activities so far included (amongst others):

  • Collaborative drawing
  • Paper-cut screen printing
  • Screen printing using acetates and hand drawn designs
  • Lino cuts
  • Mono printing
  • Stencil cutting for spray painting
  • Digital design: vector graphics, Photoshop, colour separations,…
  • Wood cuts
  • Photo polymer etching
  • Postcard printing
  • Making artist books
  • Large scratch card preparations
  • Collages
  • Zine making

AAEX on the Radio

Following up on our very successful exhibition at the Long Walk Shopping Centre in May 2018, Dundalk FM invited AAEX artists for individual interviews about their approaches, history, upcoming events etc.

The radio station also provided podcasts of the interviews and kindly allowed us to publish them here. Enjoy.


Bernhard Gaul, 31st May 2018

Susan Farrelly, 6th June 2018

Úna Curley, 8th June 2018

Niamh Gillespie, 25th June 2018

Caoimhe McCarthy, 28th June 2018

James Mc Loughlin, 29th June 2018


Art Exhibition – Long Walk – May 2018

Art as Exchange (AAEX) is an open group of local artists who have been meeting regularly for almost 2 years now in order to exchange ideas, socialise, collaborate and develop public art projects. Public participatory art projects include representations at Drogheda Arts Festival 2017 & 2018, Creative Spark National Drawing Day 2017 & 2018, and First Fortnight (Inside Out). Group internally we focused on Hands-on Gatherings and created a Large Scale Mural.

This year the group decided to seek an opportunity to showcase individual members’ art practices in our first group exhibition, which will also host a number of workshops for various ages for the public to get involved.

In the spirit of trying to get out of the gallery and into the community we are delighted to avail of the community space at the Long Walk Shopping Centre for this.

Participating Artists

Anna Marie Savage – Bernhard Gaul – Caoimhe Mc Carthy – Ciara Agnew – Heather Cassidy – James Mc Loughlin – Jean Marshall – Michael Stafford – Niamh Gillespie – Ominous Omin – Rachel Burke – Susan Farrelly – Úna Curley

Opening Reception

Thursday, 17th May 7 PM – All welcome!

Location and Opening Times

Long Walk Shopping Centre, Dundalk

Monday – Friday 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday 11 am – 6 pm
Sunday closed


Workshops [Booking Required]

All workshops are free but places are limited
To book email aaex.artspark@gmail.com

Comic Book Drawing

With James Mc Loughlin
Age 12 and over – Sat 19 May and Sat 26 May 12 am – 2:30 pm 

An introduction to comic book art, creating a short comic book story with practical tips and advice.

Create Artist Books

With Michael Stafford
Age 12 and over – Sat 19 May and Sat 26 May 2:30 pm – 5 pm 

The ancient art of book making, binding and their use.

Meditate and Make

With Úna Curley (a.k.a The Emotional Artist)
Adults – Thu 24 May and Mon 28 May 10 am – 11 am

Start your week right with Meditate and Make. Bring out your inner creativity.

Tangle Time

With Jean Marshall
Adults – Mon 21 May 2 pm – 4 pm

Fun, easy and relaxing, an inexpensive meditative art form designed for all skill levels – if you can scribble you can tangle and all that you need to get started is some white paper, a fine tipped black pen and a pencil.

Paint with a Painter

With Ciara Agnew, Susan Farrelly and Bernhard Gaul
Age 10-15 – Wed 23 May 5 pm – 7 pm

Have fun and get creative working with professional painters, sharing hints and tips. Work clothes (and shoes) essential!

The exhibition is supported by Creative Spark and Abbey Art Studios

Art As Exchange is kindly supported and facilitated by Creative Spark

Scratch Drawings 2018

Art as Exchange will be represented at this year’s Drogheda Arts Festival and National Drawing Day at Creative Spark, Dundalk.

We will prepare giant scratch drawings for the public to join in and complete.


Drogheda Arts Festival – Saturday 5th May 2018 – 12:30 – 5PM – St Dominic’s Park


Creative Spark – Saturday 19th May 2018 – 2 – 4 PM



First Fortnight 2018: Inside Out

Selfie Expression wall

First Fortnight is a charity that challenges mental health prejudice through arts and cultural action. It aims to make the First Fortnight of each year synonymous with mental health awareness, challenging prejudice and ending stigma.

On 11th January 2018, Creative Spark, in association with Inspire Wellbeing, hosted a free event as part of this project with the theme of bringing the artist inside out, inviting everyone to bring their art and creativity out of the home or studio and into the community.

AAEX members were actively involved in preparing the event and provided a good number of the contributions by various speakers, artists, photographers, songwriters and poets, which made the event a success. In particular:

  • Selfie Expression: complete your self-portrait and post a selfie with it (Heather Cassidy, Rachel Burke)
  • Treasure Hunt: mingle and identify contributors by random facts (Rachel Burke)
  • Meet the Artists: Presentations about personal arts practice and mental health (Bernhard Gaul, Barry Finnegan, Úna Curley)
  • Zentangle: A mindful drawing activity (Jean Marshall)
  • Presentation of work (Michael Stafford, Úna Curley)
  • Music (Barry Finnegan)
  • Collective Poetry Activity (Úna Curley)
  • Perpetual Drawing + 2 Landscapes: Collaborative drawing project (Bernhard Gaul)

Our Poem
Of Happiness, Intrigue, and Power Animals

If I was a cat, I would roam a city
painting a picture
beach, sky balloons colourful free
Swallow, agile flyer
hardly seen alone
Local social history
Old abandoned House
Who lived there?
In the Louvre looking at the Mona Lisa
a fluffy koala bear cute and cuddly but
with claws, roar!
A spider, So I could scare people just by
sitting on the wall
Jumping from a height
Wise as an Owl
Swimming in a blue sea.
Loyal Dog, Lion, skate-boarding
flying through the air in the sunshine
A seat, drinks with friends
A tree, Giraffe, because they are tall unlike
Teeny tiny me.
Stones, celebrating
Leopard, The mind.
Gazelle and Owl  a Gazowl
Slim & Lithe & Fit & Beautiful & Wise
& doesn’t need much sleep.
Fossils of Dinosaur Poop!
Rock from sand.
Making the song ‘Imagine’ come true
John Lennon
Turings “Colossus” computer
Spending time with the love of my life
An old vinyl player
(the ones with the big funnels)
Koala, I would be a tiger
furry and run like the wind.
A Whale, swimming in the sea
Donkey, Odd shaped pumpkin
A wooden vessel, hold tea,
its warm and intermittent touch to the lips.
Hands held tightly around
Falling from the sky (Skydiving)
Running up a mountain
In Rain and Sunshine
My favourite weather.
Swimming in a warm sea
under the blue sky.
Deer, strong and confident
Walking the hills
An Alsatian dog
Attractive, clever, loyal, fierce and taking no nonsense
The clouds in the sky
Cat, Mouse,
A giraffe with lovely long legs
Creating stuff
Copper Wire
Making love
Other people
A spider with small worlds unexplored
A cup of steaming hot tea
to stare into
Drinking with my wife in a vineyard in the South of France
Klimt The kiss painting
Writing poetry to my favourite music
to be with family
at ease and accepted or
to be in world without technology.
Walking amidst a forest
A dolphin cheerful, friendly
Relaxing and listening to music
and reading a comic
A Dog
Intelligent and well behaved – generally
Laptop, internet
Stones, Antique urns,
A Dog
Coins, Rubix Cube, Dice
All my family together,
I need a superpower to help my family get on together again
I am Happy
When I am being Creative
Gliding through the sky

A Creative Collaboration by

Janice Pollock Mary Clarke Úna Curley
Rosie Moore Shane Millar Sandra Butterly
Robert Sozi Vincent Gilmore Dympna Mahoney
Rachel Burke Bernhard Gaul Michael Stafford
Heather Cassidy Nella Weatherup Dee Brannigan
Geraldine Martin Emma McCabe Joe Sweeny
RJ Patterson Sarah Daly David Davies
Natalie Smith Jean Marshall Tracy Chan
Billy Smallwood

The Postcard Project

Postcard by Heather Cassidy

We decided to use a postcard art project as first attempt to step out of our studio setting and find public engagement.

The idea is simple: AAEX members produce postcards using various ideas and approaches, which are pre-stamped and handed to members of the public with the request to send them back to us. People are encouraged to draw or write on the cards or otherwise alter them, if they wish to.

Once returned, the exchange is documented and the cards presented in a form to be decided on. The cards are numbered, so we know which ones didn’t come back, leaving a gap.

Cards were produced between January and April 2017.

First public hand out of cards: Drogheda Arts Festival, RollUp, Roll,up – Saturday, 29th April at Scotch Hall, Drogheda alongside the Creative Spark screen printing stall.

Second installment in the canteen of the DkIT, Dundalk, Tuesday 9th May. Other cards were handed out to acquaintances and interested.

Montage and presentation of returned cards on Saturday, 20th May at Creative Spark, 2-5pm in the context of National Drawing Day.

Stamps generously sponsored by irishstamps.ie

Photos from the installation of returned postcards at Creative Spark. All cards are numbered, gaps identifying cards that weren’t returned. Almost 200 people were involved in producing the cards on display. Overall we engaged with over 300 people.

Creating the post cards. Lino cuts by Michael Stafford, Rachel Burke, Heather Cassidy, Bernhard Gaul and Úna Curely

Getting ready for Drogheda Arts Festival

Impressions from Drogheda Arts Festival and DkIT, Dundalk. Original cards by Thomas Brezina, Rachel Burke, Heather Cassidy, Úna Curely, Bernhard Gaul, Susan Farrelly, Anna Marie Savage and Michael Stafford