Thanks to the success of Cartoon Saloon and Lighthouse Studios, Kilkenny city’s Butler Gallery is helping inspire a whole new generation of artists and creators through its workshops, exhibits and interactive tools.
Kilkenny is firmly on the map in terms of global animation success, being home to the five-time Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA and Emmy-nominated animation studio, Cartoon Saloon.
Kilkenny City’s Butler Gallery is fast becoming one of its top, free, family-friendly visitor attractions in what is one of the country’s most reputable tourist destinations. It’s an absolute must for visitors to the medieval city, particularly families with creative children who love art, history and culture, architecture and safe, secure city gardens.
“The worldwide accomplishments of Cartoon Saloon and Lighthouse Studios has shown that an aptitude for drawing, along with belief in the rich imagination of our young people, can be translated into an exciting and profitable career to be proud of”
The landmark heritage building is run on a not-for-profit basis. It opened at the height of the pandemic in 2020, therefore this will be its first, full, restriction-free tourist season. Butler Gallery’s welcoming staff are rolling out the red carpet on Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile and the Gallery is the centrepiece of the short walking tour that triangulates St Canice’s Cathedral and the iconic, 12th Century Kilkenny Castle.
Families will revel in time spent in the various galleries, including the contemporary art gallery, the Learning Centre, Digital Gallery and unwind in Muse Coffee + Food.
The Butler Gallery houses collection galleries highlighting some of the extensive and important Collection of 20th Century Irish art. An entire wing is dedicated to renowned Kilkenny artists Tony O’Malley and Jane O’Malley.
Curating curiosity and inspiration
Anna O’Sullivan, director and chief curator, said the gallery is free of charge and open six days a week and offers a combination of collections and exhibitions, learning and public engagement programming.
“We have welcomed over 40,000 people to Butler Gallery since reopening on 11 May 2021 and we are feeling optimistic and excited about the future for the Gallery”
She spoke to ThinkBusiness about the future of the gallery and inspiring a new generation of artists.
Is the success of Cartoon Saloon and Lighthouse Studios driving an interest in art among young people in Kilkenny?
Yes, the presence of Cartoon Saloon in Kilkenny has definitely added to a growing interest and appreciation in drawing and animation among our young population. The worldwide accomplishments of Cartoon Saloon and Lighthouse Studios has shown that an aptitude for drawing, along with belief in the rich imagination of our young people, can be translated into an exciting and profitable career to be proud of.
Butler Gallery and Cartoon Saloon have an excellent working relationship as two of Kilkenny’s most renowned Arts Organisations. We have presented three multi-sensory exhibitions with Cartoon Saloon depicting the artwork and creative process of producing an animated film. Each exhibition on average attracts an audience of 40,000 people from all over Ireland and overseas.
In addition, to support each exhibition, we have had an Artist-In-Residence for our Learning and Public Engagement Programme and host workshops for children and young people in the skills of drawing and animation which provide in-depth knowledge and further inspiration.
We are delighted to be able to present a fourth exhibition with Cartoon Saloon of their upcoming film ‘My Fathers Dragon’ this coming November.
What can we do to capitalise on this success and grow a thriving artistic ecosystem?
We provide stimulating workshops and exhibitions for our younger audiences so that they can develop their skills. We support artists and audiences through our Learning and Public Engagement Programme which caters for a very diverse range of creative interests for all ages.
Our Digital Gallery provides further opportunities for our audiences to engage with our exhibitions and events through our film programming. We have a fantastic garden and café which provide a wonderful space for communal activities and groups to get together over a coffee to discuss and enjoy being in a vibrant creative artistic environment.
How did you manage during the pandemic and what does opening back up mean for you?
We had many projects that were ongoing behind closed doors during the pandemic because we were in a transitional phase, moving location to our new building and growing as an organisation. We were due to open our new building in May 2020 however this was delayed until August 2020. We were then only open for 8/9 weeks before we had to close again, so it was a challenge of course like it was for everyone.
We reacted quickly and moved events online from March 2020 and onwards. We have now been open for one full calendar year since moving to our new building and it has been fantastic to finally enjoy the cycle of a full year of programming and all the facilities our new space has to offer.
In spite of restrictions we have welcomed over 40,000 people to Butler Gallery since reopening on 11 May 2021 and we are feeling optimistic and excited about the future for the Gallery which is now a key cultural attraction in the South East.