Statement of Practice
As an ecological artist my core focus is towards building strong interconnected relationships between humans and the natural environment. I believe in creating an alternative space for peer-to-peer learning and knowledge share. Through my practice I strive to develop new ways to engage sustainably with the natural world, beneficial to human and the biosphere as a whole. Manifest as nature inspired events, with the intent of unravelling some of the questions I see around our relationship — and indeed treatment — of the natural world.
My events based and dialectic practice operates within two modes:
- The StudioLab : a laboratory for creative thinking and gathering empirical data. A philosophical space where principles of well-being and methodologies of art and ecology synthesis. A contemplative space that provides appropriate conditions for nature focused inquiry and mindful reflections.
- The Mobile Platform : an active engagement programme set in site-specific spaces. A social platform for exploring human-nature relations through open-dialogue and active participation. Central to this is gathering data, validating theories, developing community and feeding into the wider discourse.
B.1976. Ashleigh Downey is an ecologically focused artist who takes an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to her practice. Formally trained as a textile designer at Central St. Martins, London (1995-98), Ashleigh works across disciplines as artist, researcher, curator, space maker, and facilitator. In 2015 Ashleigh started an MFA in Art & Ecology at the Burren College of Art, Co Clare, and currently completing a masters in Social Practice and the Creative Environment at the Limerick School of Art and Design.
Since 2017 Ashleigh has been working with the European Academy of Participation (EAP) to develop a module in participatory practice for universities and cultural organisations across Europe. Launched Blooming Bunting (2015), an experimental initiative promoting biodiversity, sustainability, creativity and community connection. Currently collaborating with Green Sod Ireland, a WildAcres land trust, to develop a new art and science focused education programme. Ashleigh is also on the artist panel at the National Gallery of Ireland and at Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane (since 2001).
From 2012 – 2013 Ashleigh curated Soul Kids, the family area for the Body and Soul Festival (2012 & 2013) and the Electric Picnic (2013), Ireland’s most prestigious festivals. As Visual Arts Programmer for The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children (2008-11) curated a number of flagship visual art exhibitions, events and engagements including Earth Explorers, Exhibit Me!, and Crafted Creatures; a partnership programme with the Crafts Council of Ireland as part of The Year of Craft 2011.
Ashleigh was awarded the Youth Arts Incubation Award by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (2012) in collaboration with 2 other artists. She also co-curated Outside the Lines, a contemporary drawing exhibition for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in 2011. Assistant Curator to the Collection Department at The Irish Museum of Modern Art (2006-08), where exhibitions include, Three, The Burial of Patrick Ireland and Co-Curator of William Hogarth : Prints from the Madden Arnholz Collection.
As a visual artist Ashleigh has exhibited internationally with work in the permanent collection at Richard F. Brush Gallery, Canton, NY.
2017-18 Limerick School of Art and Design, Limerick, MA Social Practice & the Creative Environment (MASpace)
2015 + Burren College of Art, Clare, MA Art & Ecology
1995-98 Central St. Martins College of Art & Design, London, BA (Hons) Textile Design
1994-95 Camberwell College, London, Diploma in Foundation Studies
1989-94 St. Columbus College, Dublin, Leaving Certificate and O Levels
2016 Permaculture Association, Permaculture Design Certificate
2011 ECO-UNESCO, Leadership & Strategic Sustainable Development
2010-12 Marino College, Child Development / Childcare / SNA (Fetec 5)
2009 HSE Child Protection – Awareness Raising Training, Keeping Safe Certificate
2009 ECO-UNESCO, Introduction to Sustainable Development (Fetec 5)
2008 University College Dublin (UCD), Collection Care Course
2007-08 National Youth Arts Programme, NYCI, NUI Certificate in Youth Arts
2016 Galway 2020, The PorterShed, Galway, Ireland
2016 EARTH is our Chrysalis, 126 Gallery, Galway, Ireland
2016 Impressions, Galway International Arts Festival, GMIT, Galway, Ireland
2016 An Emptying Landscape, Burren College of Art, Clare, Ireland
2015 TRASNA V, The Courthouse Gallery, Clare, Ireland
2015 PhotoIreland Korean Photobooks: Visual Response, Burren College, Ireland
2012 Mean Time Between Failures, Commonplace, Dublin, Ireland
2012 Elemental Birds (II), R-Space, Lisburn, Northern Ireland
2011 Elemental Birds (I), The Richard F. Brush Gallery, Canton, NY
2009 Earth Explorers, The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children, Dublin, Ireland
The Richard F. Brush Gallery Permanent Collection, Canton, NY
Private Collections in Ireland, United States, and the UK
Youth Arts Incubation Award 2012 by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, in collaboration with two other contemporary artists Edel Campbell and Joe Coveney for a sustainable research project DeepentheMistery.
Other Relevant Work
2018 + Artist Panel, The National Gallery, Dublin
2017 + Environmental Arts Coordinator, Green Sod Ireland, Co. Galway
2015 + Founder & Creative Director, Blooming Bunting Community Initiative, Ireland
2014 Creative Consultant, Bushfire Festival, Swaziland
2001 + Artist Panel, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin
2012-13 Artistic Director, Soul Kids, Electric Picnic Festival, Co. Laois
2012-13 Artistic Director, Soul Kids, Body and Soul Festival, Co. Westmeath
2011 Co-Curator, Outside the Lines, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council
2008-11 Visual Arts Programmer, The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children, Dublin
2006-07 Assistant Curator : Collections, Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Dublin
2004-06 Art Officer, Pact Woodland Project, Dublin
2001 + Artist Panel, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin
2000-12 Interior Design Tutor, Dublin
1999 + Education Facilitator, Dublin
Organisations include: Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane,Temple Bar Cultural Trust, The Ark A Cultural Centre for Children, Central Mental Hospital Dundrum, Vocational Education Committee (VEC), Electric Picnic Festival, Body and Soul Festival, Roolaboola Childrens Art Festival, Bloom Fringe Festival, PACT, St. Nicholas Montessori College Ireland, Portobello School and Pine Forest Arts centre.