Amanda Coogan, still image from ‘They Come Then, The Birds’, 2021; Photograph by Ciara McMullan, courtesy the artist Amanda Coogan, still image from ‘They Come Then, The Birds’, 2021; Photograph by Ciara McMullan, courtesy the artist.

As this issue goes to print, we find ourselves on the cusp of summer, yet still awaiting clarification from government on the easing of public health restrictions, which would bring about the much-anticipated reopening of studios, galleries and art centres across the Republic of Ireland. We lament the loss of gatherings and public events that define the Irish visual arts community, who have been so dramatically impacted by successive lockdowns, as recently asserted by patron of Visual Artists Ireland, President Michael D Higgins, who celebrated his 80th birthday on 18 April.

Reflecting on the absence of public moments to punctuate his painting practice over the last year, Cornelius Browne considers the historical rejection of exhibitions by outsider artists in his Plein Air column for this issue. Conversely, tasked with developing a large-scale exhibition during a global pandemic, Niamh O’Malley outlines ongoing preparations for Ireland at Venice 2022. In other columns, Matt Packer reports from the recent Curatorial Ethics workshop at Void, Derry, while Miguel Amado tracks toxic philanthropy in the global art world. In addition, Shane Finan outlines open-source software and alternative platforms, and Ciarán Murphy reflects on the mysteries of the ‘self’ in relation to the creative process and its affinities with psychoanalysis.

Over the last year, we have been publishing a popular series of articles in which VAI members offer insights into the challenges of maintaining an art practice during a global pandemic. This issue features Member Profiles from artists Audrey Walshe, Elaine Hoey, Giulia Berto, Austin Hearne, Kate Murphy and Ellen Duffy, who each offer generous insights into the research and artworks they have been developing during lockdown.

In Project Profiles, Clare Scott outlines ongoing archival research on the Aileen MacKeogh Project, Barbara Knezevic discusses her recent artwork, ‘The Record Keepers’, commissioned for Cabra Library, while Kate Antosik Parsons reflects on Amanda Coogan’s new work, ‘They come then, the birds’, due to be exhibited at Rua Red, as the first in the series of Magdalene commissions.

VAN’s May-June issue includes an expanded Regional Focus on Belfast, with insights from Peter Richards, Chair of the Belfast Visual Arts Forum; Ben Crothers, Curator and Collections Manager at the Naughton Gallery; Jane Butler, Co-director of Household; the codirectors of Catalyst Arts; and Clodagh Lavelle, Project Coordinator of Reimagine, Remake, Replay. In addition, artists Justine McDonnell, Gerard Carson and several members of Queen Street Studios offer detailed insights into visual arts activities and infrastructure within Belfast city.

Reviewed in the Critique section are an interesting selection of recent online exhibitions and projects: Rory Tangney, ‘Tales of the Future Past’; Kurb Junki, ‘Meditative Monitor’; Vera Ryklova, ‘Aesthetic Distance’ at Cultúrlann, Belfast; ‘Passing-time’,; and ‘The Museum of Ancient History’ at University College Dublin.