Books, Art and Chickpeas

Last week’s blog post was my (hopefully good) effort at taking you on a whistlestop tour of the historical side of Dublin; from Georgian architecture to Victorian pubs. Dublin also has a more contemporary and thriving arts and culture scene, which is what has inspired part two of my blog series around the Republic of Ireland’s wonderful capital city.

Dublin’s visual art scene was nothing short of spectacular; with a number of public art schemes meaning that one was never far away from seeing local talent on show. My favourite of these sees electricity boxes across the city decorated by the work of various local designers; making brilliant use of hundreds of blank canvases. Contemporary Irish design can also be found at the simply marvellous Jam Art Factory; with two stores found in Dublin. I loved wondering around the small but perfectly formed Crown Alley store, with artwork ranging from cityscapes, to literary inspired graphic design.


Electricity boxes providing a blank canvas for Dublin’s designers


Jam Art Factory in Temple Bar

While Temple Bar is often seen by visitors as the party district of Dublin (its numerous bars did keep us entertained on Friday night) it is full of artistic gems such as Jam Art Factory. The area also houses The Library Project (4 Temple Bar Street) which is easily one of the best art bookshops I have ever visited; with the collections branching across a range of artistic disciplines and tastes. The shop is organised by PhotoIreland; as part of their work to promote the photography and image work of artists throughout Ireland.


The Library Project, Temple Bar

Dublin is rightly renowned for its museums; with ones dedicated to Irish history, wax works and even Leprechauns. A visit to Trinity College would not be complete without gazing upon the beautiful Book of Kells and accompanying museum, however we found the most stimulating site on the University’s campus was somewhat more modern. Trinity’s Science Galley houses an ever changing array of fascinating science exhibits – during our visit it was the highly thought provoking “Field Test” which was on show. The exhibition was a future gazing collection, which pondered what the future of farming and food production could look like. This included prototypes of robot bees and methods of urban farming, and a virtual reality headset for caged chickens which has been generating ethical debates ever since it was first unveiled.


3D mural speculating on future farming technology


Virtual reality on display at The Science Gallery


“Field Test” made us think about where our food may be grown in the future

“Field Test” was a brilliantly stimulating exhibition, and raised many questions about what the future of food and farming may look like.

For some more immediate food related answers we visited the Smithfield Food Fair; named after the former industrial area of the city where it was found. The fair featured stalls from local organic and vegan food traders, selling a huge variety of delicious food and treats. From burgers and pizza, to chutneys and candles, we could have happily eaten anything on offer! In the end it was the Chickpea Blondies from Happy Food which won us over, and went down an absolute treat.


A wonderful collection of foods on sale at The Smithfield Food Fair

Dublin has so much to offer when it comes to contemporary culture, as well as history, and is a city that I will most certainly get myself back to.