Rachel Botha shares exciting work as curator of new exhibition

LETTERKENNY’S Regional Cultural Centre screened the premier of a film on Thursday night entitled ‘The Land Question’ as part of the two centre Swallowing Geography Exhibition curated by Rachel Botha.

Rachel is the RCC’s first early career curator-in-residence and in the seven months to October she has pulled together a vast array of works both local and from further afield to be exhibited at the RCC and the Glebe Gallery.

Speaking to the Donegal News the Kilkenny native, who is just 30, said Swallowing Geography has been a huge project to curate but it has been really well received by local people and those travelling to the county.


“Some people think I am just tweeking lights and stuff like that but I have been working with the Arts Council collections and with four Donegal artists who created pieces especially for this show.

“We had a three week installation run in both venues. While I am not an artist myself, my job is to organise exhibitions and this one was exciting to do. The exhibitions will run until December and then my time in residence is up,” she explained.

Thursday night’s screening saw a discussion between Eimear Walshe and Áine McBride/Mac Giolla Bhríde which presented a brief history of land contestation in Ireland, and questions how the history of land relations persistently impacts our most intimate thoughts, aspirations, and interactions.

The video includes a soundtrack by The Department of Energy featuring Ian Lynch.

Rachel believes her role as a curator is twofold; a facilitator for the artist and a mediator for the viewing audience.

She holds a BA in History of Art and Architecture from Trinity College Dublin and a Masters degree in Visual Culture and Critical Studies from Technological University Dublin.

She has previously worked in arts organisations such as Poetry Ireland / Éigse Éireann and Fire Station Artists’ Studios, and internationally at the La Biennale di Venezia and Galería ALARCON CRIADO, Seville.


Recently, Rachel Botha was the Provost’s Curatorial Fellow at The Douglas Hyde Gallery of Contemporary Art, Trinity College Dublin, a co-director of Catalyst Arts, and the Emerging Curator in Residence at the Kilkenny Arts Office.

She is currently the Bloomers Irish Art Emerging Editor Awardee.

This mentorship residency, supported by Arts Council Ireland and Donegal County Council is designed to assist in the professional development of the successful candidate by offering them valuable mentorship opportunities from leading curators, direct experience in curating professional exhibitions, and opportunities to engage with contemporary artists and art professionals from throughout County Donegal.

Rachel Botha will receive both online and in-person mentorship from leading Irish curators as she developed her multi-venue exhibition and education programme using works from the Arts Council Collection and a number of Donegal based contemporary artists.

The aim of Swallowing Geography is to observe the dynamics between belonging and exclusion in response to the Donegal context.

It presents the lived and imagined experiences of inhabiting space, while exploring our engagement with geographical, domestic and digital worlds.

The title Swallowing Geography is borrowed from Deborah Levy’s novella which questions the idea of home – “Is home a good place? Or just somewhere to return to?”– and expands on our perception of belonging.

The exhibition attempts to share the complex narratives about securing a place in the world where belonging is measured alongside exclusion, and broadly shares experiences of migration, displacement and marginalisation.


The exhibition includes a broad selection of artworks from the Arts Council Collection by Bassam Al-Sabah, John Beattie, Carmel Benson, Pauline Bewick, Deirdre Carr, Francis Carty, Carey Clarke, Felicity Clear, Dorothy Cross, James Dixon, Genieve Figgis, Hannah Fitz, Margaret Fitzgibbon, Martin Gale, Anita Groener, Patrick Hall, Patrick Hennessy, Patrick Jolley, Eithne Jordan, Allyson Keehan, Louis le Brocquy, Ruth E Lyons, Marielle MacLeman, Eleanor McCaughey, Sibyl Montague, Ciarán Murphy, Isobel Nolan, Mairead O’hEocha, Nano Reid, Constance Short, Maria Simonds-Gooding, Rajinder Singh and Andrew Vickery; Caroline McCarthy from the Irish Museum Modern Art Collection; and new commissioned work by Donegal artists Cara Donaghey, Laura McCafferty, Eoghan McIntyre and Jill Quigley.

The commissioned exhibition text is written by Emily Cooper and Dean Fee, editors of The Pig’s Back journal.

The exhibition runs at the Glebe Gallery until November 30 and at the RCC until December 17.

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