DISPUTE 2013 | 2016
On December 15th 2011 the management of Lagan Brick factory, in Kingscourt, County Cavan ceased production of domestic house bricks. This was due to a fall in demand following the global economic crisis and the collapse of Ireland’s overheated housing market. The workers were sacked without notice and the management refused to pay their statutory redundancy entitlements. The workers had more than 600 years service between them. They staged a dispute outside the gates of the factory. The lockout lasted for 272 days and was finally resolved by the intervention of politicians and the Industrial Labour Court.
Red clay bricks are no longer produced anywhere in Ireland. On the final day of production one of the workers had the foresight to rescue some of the last bricks from the production line before they reached the kiln. Artist, Anthony Haughey worked closely with the brick workers and documented the lockout. At the end of the lockout the unfired bricks were gifted to the artist to produce an art work dedicated to the struggle of the workers, their families and the community who supported them. The final piece was installed in Limerick City Gallery of Art, part of the Labour and Lockout exhibition, curated by Helen Carey.
Handmade red clay bricks with text, Lambda digital photographs and wall text.
The relationship between Labour and Capital shifted irrevocably in 1913 in the Great Dublin Lockout, just as it is shifting today – whether through the directives that change the face of rural labour, or the lockouts of our time, or the marketplace which directed our lives without our even knowing, or that the spaces we think are public but are governed by restrictive rules, or how we perform in relationship to knowledge and the past – this is what A Letter to Lucy exhibition at Pallas Studios addresses.
ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD
When the real is no longer what it was, nostalgia assumes its full meaning. There is a plethora of myths of origin and of signs of reality – a plethora of truth, of secondary objectivity, and authenticity.
– Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation (1994: 6)
Waterford Crystal glass is a global brand; it has been produced in Ireland since 1783. The main factory in Kilbarry ceased production in January 2009 with the loss of 1000 jobs. The workers staged a sit-in to fight for their jobs. The dispute ended in March 2009 when the workers were officially made redundant. The company assets were transferred to ‘vulture capitalists’, KPS Capital Partners, who transferred the Waterford Crystal trademark to WWRD Holdings Ltd. They subsequently moved production to Eastern Europe, where the original Waterford Crystal designs are now manufactured by Computer Aided Design methods.
A new Visitors Centre was re-established on the Mall in Waterford in June 2010. Visitors are invited to tour a simulated production facility and observe highly skilled craft workers making Waterford Crystal products. In the gift shop they are encouraged to purchase these ‘hand crafted’ products. However, it is only on closer inspection that people may realise that the crystal products they have bought are actually produced on an automated production line in Slovenia.
STRIKE! ARTIST CURATED FILM SCREENING PROGRAMME
As Ireland turns further into its Decade of Commemorations, Limerick City Gallery of Art presents STRIKE!, an exhibition exploring industrial disputes and workers resistance. The exhibition includes a series of films curated by Anthony Haughey, representing a wide range of response to industrial unrest, across many countries from Ireland to Argentina. STRIKE! was also installed in the National Sculpture Factory, part of the 2013 Cork Film Festival programme. The main features screened in this former Tram Factory were Sergei Eisenstein’s, The Strike (1925) on Thursday 14th November and Allan Sekula’s The Forgotten Space (2010) on Friday 15th November. Download the film programme Democratic Cinema.
STRIKE! reviewed in the Irish Examiner
Labour and Lockout, Limerick City Gallery of Art review