Art and Design / June 17, 2021

Artists put one of Dublin’s empty retail spaces to good use

firstdaysartworld @firstdaysartworld
Art and Design / June 17, 2021

Artists put one of Dublin’s empty retail spaces to good use

Words: Emily Mullen

The First Days Of An Art World

With restaurants and pubs reopening for outdoor drinking and dining, the true extent of retail chain and independent shop closures can be seen. Shops in the city’s busiest streets stand still, boarded up and empty, beside bustling pubs and restaurants. Recognising that these empty spaces can be used on a temporary basis, artists Robyn Carey and Neil Dunne have created The First Days Of An Art World.

The exhibition is a seven-day popup operating out of dormant retail space on Aungier Street, that shows the work of 10 artists. “This exhibition aims to rethink the way we show art – making it more inclusive and accessible for the public and beneficial for artists,” Carey wrote, highlighting that artists have an immense capacity to adapt and change to challenging situations. It’s hoped that this exhibition will become a prototype for events in the future, their aim is to create opportunities for aspiring curators and artists at all stages of their career.

Gary Merrin

Creating spaces and opportunities for those in the arts is they maintain extremely important, with the traditional gallery spaces currently working through a back-logs of cancelled shows from the pandemic. Moving away from the traditional gallery model also affords artists “more freedom, more control over exhibitions, and more commission on their sales” the team say.

The show points towards something more similar to an ultra-inclusive collective, one that can exist in harmony with established galleries. 

Eileen O’Sullivan

“Whatever happens, we’re all conscripted into the service of art; we’re all volunteers. We need to play loose, loving, generous, being as creative and as unafraid as possible, adapting to change as it comes and not falling back on old, outmoded, mean, or inapplicable dogmas. We all want to go the distance for what we love. That distance has begun. Things are bleak, but batons will be and are already being passed to generations who will emerge on the other side of this who will have the brilliant chance to build a whole new art world. How long the interregnum lasts, I do not know. But on the other side, the survivors will always have the knowledge of what they learned about themselves as the angel of death walked among us,” the team said.

The exhibition will showcase a range of styles and narratives, with both abstract and figurative works in a variety of mediums including painting, sculpture and mixed media from the likes of Aches, Eileen O’Sullivan, Sophia Vigne Welsh, Without, Shane Berkery and curators Robyn Carey and Neil Dunne.

Sophia Vigne Welsh

Social distancing and contact tracing will be enacted at the pop-up gallery, which will have a queuing and one in one out system, for more information on individual artists and sales visit The First Days Of An Art World Instagram or email them on

You can find the exhibition on Dublin 2’s 19 Aungier Street (formerly Flying Tiger) from June 19th – 24th.

Elsewhere on District: Abandoned car showroom reimagined as a food court and exhibition space