Spark - Call for Artists

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Call for Artists


SPARK is a partnership project of Leitrim County Council's Arts Office and Local Enterprise Office and is supported by the Arts Council. It is aimed at artists who are interested in working in new environments and companies who are interested in collaborating with artists and promoting creativity within their organisations. Spark offers a platform for collaboration appropriate to that context, providing alternatives to the current view, and making connections and linkages where they may not have existed previously. Previous Spark projects have been based at Leitrim Organic Centre; The Bush Hotel; Leitrim Association of People with Disabilities; Cafe Lounge; The Hive; Mohill Enterprise Centre. Priors PLM Medical and Leitrim County Council. This year’s residency will be with Merenda Ltd. located in Manorhamilton and it presents a particularly exciting opportunity for artists that have an interest in the materials, processes and people of a small manufacturing company based in the rural northwest that trades worldwide.


Merenda is a 35 year old family business with an expertise in manufacturing wood veneer component products for furniture manufacturers worldwide. It was founded in 1983 by Oliver Haslette of Wm. Haslette & Son, the town's main construction company, in response to an opportunity to develop the furniture element of the Haslette businesses that used solid hardwood as their raw material in their school and church furniture and building fit-outs. The new business, Merenda, opened its new premises on the New Line Road (now Leitrim Sculpture Centre) before relocating in 1999 to larger premises at its current location where it is now managed by Oliver’s son Ronan. They now supply to 12 countries with an expert team of 21 people, some of whom have been with the company for over 20 years. Merenda manufactures decorative but functional wood surface coverings from veneer for furniture manufacturers and interior joineries that have specific architectural requirements for their clients. Raw materials are from natural wood veneers, reconstituted and dyed veneers. The excellence and cost effectiveness of Merenda products allow the beauty of wood to be affordably used in both interior décor and furniture manufacturing. With over 35 years’ experience, Merenda’s dedication to its craft combined with a focus on the customer has been the driving force behind its success.



Artists wishing to apply for Spark should email Leitrim County Council Arts Office to declare their interest in the programme. Artists who have declared their interest are invited to a site visit where they will have the opportunity to meet with the arts office, management and staff, leading to a better understanding of the programme and the company involved. While attendance at the site visit is not essential to make an application, it is strongly advised that applicants do so.

To declare your interest in SPARK, email before Monday 13th May.


Following the site visit, artists are invited to propose ideas and approaches for an entire 6-month residency with the company (Stage 1 and 2 combined). This document is not a definitive proposal for the project that the successful artist would be expected to carry out. Rather, by identifying potential lines of enquiry of interest to the artist and processes that he or she might like to adopt, the document provides a vivid insight into the applicant’s methodology as an artist, their understanding of the company, and a demonstration of the applicant’s capacity for developing innovative projects appropriate to that context. Given that this proposal is only based on a short site visit, while it may serve as a useful starting point, the anticipation is that the residency would differ substantially, if not completely, from this proposal. This document should be no longer than three A4 pages and can refer to concepts, lines of enquiry, processes for engagement, methodologies for collaboration - and even potential outcomes. In particular, it should clearly indicate how the artist hopes to gain and how the company will benefit from the process. The proposal should be accompanied by a CV and images, recordings etc. of previous work. The proposal and written elements of a CV should be saved as .pdf documents. Images should be saved as .jpg files and sound files as .mp3 or as a document with links to soundcloud or youtube.  Videos should only be submitted as links to youtube or vimeo. Proposals should be emailed using the file transfer platform before Monday 24th June to


A panel consisting of representatives of the Arts Office and Local Enterprise Office along with external experts will shortlist applications. A maximum of three proposals will be presented to the company for consideration. One or more of those shortlisted will then be invited to meet with the company on Thursday 4th July. Applications will be assessed based on the following criteria

  • The quality, innovation and artistic merit of the proposal.
  • Understanding of the company and the physical, social and cultural context of the work.
  • Previous work and track record (or potential) of the applicant.
  • Proven understanding of and ability to collaborate successfully.


The programme is divided into two stages.


In the first stage, the selected artist is invited to spend 10 days at the company within a two-month period. During this stage, the artist is new to the company and the company new to the artist and the quality of dialogue and exchange will be key. The artist is not necessarily expected to make new work in Stage 1, but very often does. Rather the objective is to engage with staff, to gain an insight and understanding of what the company does and to reflect on that from the artist’s unique perspective. It is perhaps best described as Action/Research. At the end of this period, the artist presents the outcomes of this research to staff and management. This could include new work, but it may well be documentation of the process undertaken and the learning from it, and/or smaller artistic interventions that emerged during the period which illustrate that research and engagement. Crucially at this point, now that the artist and company have been working together for a number of weeks, if both parties wish to develop that work further, they can together develop a proposal for a longer residency lasting 25 days over four months. It should be noted that there is no onus on the artist or the company to proceed to Stage 2 and are instead invited to do so only if both parties wish to do so.


In the second stage, the artist has the capacity to develop new work that could be substantial in its ambition, a project that the artist develops by themselves or with other partners, perhaps undertaking work which explores new and different creative and innovative paths, or work which serves as a catalyst for reflection and new thinking within the company.  The Arts Office will continue to assist the artist and company throughout the programme, particularly in the development of this proposal. It is important that the entire residency should serve to benefit both the artist and the company, and how each party hopes to gain from it should be evident in the proposal.


The approach to developing the stage two proposal is largely the same as stage one. However, this is a joint proposal by the artist along with the company and denotes a mutual commitment to a programme of work. At this stage the artist and company should be more certain about the proposed direction and what potential outcomes might emerge. This collective vision is more likely given that both parties would have developed an insight into how a project would stand to benefit both artist and company. In addition, at this stage, the artist now has a comprehensive understanding of, and working relationship with, the company – and vice versa – management and staff at the company have developed a knowledge and understanding of the artist, their work, methodology, and how a collaboration might be shaped.


-Closing Date for expression of interest:Monday 13th May
-Site Visit:  Thursday 23rd May
-Closing Date for receipt of proposals:  Monday 24th June
-Meetings:   Thursday 4th July
-Stage 1 Residency Period:    10 x 8 hour days during July/August
-Stage 1 Artist Fee:    €2,000.00
-Stage 1 Materials Budget:   €1,000.00
-Stage 2 Date for receipt of proposal:  Monday 2nd September
-Stage 2 Residency Period:  25 x 8 hour days between September and December
-Stage 2 Artist Fee:  €5,000.00
-Stage 2 Materials Budget:    €4,000.00*

*Leitrim County Council will provide match funding with the company towards the Stage 2 materials budget up to a maximum of €2,000.00 (total budget €4,000.00). This does not prohibit the company providing further funding or further funding being sought from other sources.



For further information contact Christine Kelly, T: 071 96 21694; E:


  • Ireland Structural and Investment Funds
  • EU European Regional Development Fund