Louis Haugh, Or like a matchstick, 2020; photography © and courtesy the artist

Happy new year! After a difficult year, we hope you all enjoyed a peaceful festive season. The January-February 2021 issue of The Visual Artists’ News Sheet has a broad thematic focus on artist-led practice, with timely profiles on various DIY projects, artist collectives, residencies, workspaces and other infrastructure.

As well as profiling various artist-led studios (including The Complex, Atelier Maser, Graphic Studio Dublin, spacecraft and Vault) we also hear from NINE, Angelica and Na Cailleacha – collectives and networks established during lockdown to enhance visibility and provide peer support for artists.

This issue also explores several experimental artist-led projects taking place outside the gallery and largely disseminated via social media. John Busher discusses ‘Sift’, a painting exhibition on the grounds of Wilton Castle in Wexford; while Rachel McIntyre interviews Eleanor McCaughey and Richard Proffitt about their temporary exhibition in East Wall, Dublin, titled ‘What Remains of This Place?’ Also in this issue, Róisín Foley discusses the artist-led residency, Oileán Air 2020 on Cape Clear Island, which recently hosted artists Brigid O’Dea, Vicky Langan and Noah Rose. We also hear from the students of NCAD’s second year MFA programme about their recent exhibition, ‘We Are Solitary’, which was installed at Rua Red Gallery in Tallaght, Dublin, in November 2020.

Among Career Development profiles, we hear from three Irish artists working across various disciplines – Aoife Dunne, Pascal Ungerer and Kevin Francis Gray – who offer insights into the progression of their practices to date. In columns for this issue, Miguel Amado discusses curating as civic practice, while Art Writing Award-winner, Meadhbh McNutt, reflects on her recent workshop at CCA Derry~Londonderry, titled ‘Should Artists Write?’ In addition, Albert Weis discusses ‘The border’ – a group exhibition featuring several Irish artists at Deutscher Künstlerbund, Berlin, which considered the historic legacy of the Troubles, while reflecting upon current restrictions and insecurities in the context of looming Brexit.

In October and November 2020, galleries and museums were closed to the public, with no guarantee of reopening before Christmas. For this reason, we were reluctant to commission our usual series of exhibition reviews. Therefore, the Critique section for this issue focuses on art books recently published in Ireland, with reviews of: Small Town Portraits; Winter Papers, Volume 6; Curriculum: Contemporary Art Goes to School; Everything is Somewhere Else; and Art Ireland and the Irish Diaspora. This timely focus on art publishing resonates with the highly successful tenth edition of the Dublin Art Book Fair at TBG+S (23 November — 06 December 2020), which is discussed in Renata Pekowska’s profile on artists’ books.