Published 13.09.2011
by Kids’ Own

‘What Is Art’ Book Launch

Launch of What is Art Childrens Publication
Culture Night 2011
23rd September 2011, 6 – 7pm
Parade Tower, Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny

A book all about art by young people from Kilkenny for every classroom in Kilkenny

What is Art? ‘No answers, just discovery’ – An Artist’s Handbook, is a hardback journal created by Alan, Clara, Clodagh, David, Donna, Feidhlim, Ferdia, Jamie, Jesse, Maggie, Niall, Niamh and Roisin – young people from the Butler Gallery’s Solas programme, to encourage and inspire people of all ages to experience and respond to contemporary art. This book is a guide to encourage creativity in everyone. Bring it with you when you visit galleries – there’s room for you to add your own thoughts and doodles as you go!

Solas is a programme for children aged 5-12 led by artists Jean Conroy and Jenny Dunne, who realise creative responses to exhibitions with children in the Gallery. It celebrated its 10th birthday in 2010, and we wanted to find a way to share the insight and perspectives of those who have participated over the years.

We formed a partnership with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership, to work on the idea of making a book by children from the Solas programme for people of all ages to get more out of visits to galleries. Kids’ Own facilitated workshops with children establishing their opinions on what sort of books they liked, and a group of 13 young people emerged as the young authors who would realise the final publication.

Jackie Nickerson and Niamh Phelan

Artwork by Jackie Nickerson and Response by Niamh Phelan

Working in partnership with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership, the group embarked on a year of investigation into the exhibition programme of the Butler Gallery in 2010, interviewing 4 exhibiting artists – multimedia and performance artist Aideen Barry, painter George Vaughan, photographer Jackie Nickerson and performance artist Declan Rooney. The outcome of these interviews informed the final content of the book. During further workshops in late 2010 and early 2011, the final content was created and agreed upon by the group. In the words of one of the young participants, the result is ‘a publication that is everything to do with art’.

The beautiful, hardback ‘What is Art’ journal is now ready to be launched, containing QR (Quick Response) code links that you can scan with your mobile phone device to direct you to relevant films of the authors interviewing exhibiting artists at the Butler Gallery among other films by the artists themselves. Come along to our launch on Friday the 23rd September from 6 – 7 at the Parade Tower to meet the young authors and get a copy of the book!

This book would not have been possible without the support (and patience!) of our funders, who were, Kilkenny Leader Rural Funds, Kilkenny Education Centre, Kilkenny County Council Arts Office and Libraries and the many individuals who supported us through ‘Fund It’, the crowd-funding website.

For more information, see,, our ‘What is Art’ page on or follow us on Facebook/butlergallery or Twitter/butlergallery for updates.

Aideen Barry's Mines & Response

Aideen Barry's Sculpture with Response from Solas Youths