A History of Play | Eamon O’Kane

Artist Eamon O’Kane’s interactive installation makes direct visual and conceptual reference to educational play objects devised by educator and inventor of Kindergarten Friedrich Fröbel. For the artist, parenthood acted as the catalyst for this enquiry into methods of merging real life with his art practice where his ongoing concerns are the interplay of art, architecture design and education. Fröbel Studio makes direct visual and conceptual reference to the educational play materials known as Fröbel Gifts – the colorful spheres, cylinders, and tubes that were developed in the early 1800s by Friedrich Fröbel, the inventor of Kindergarten. These tools are still instrumental the world over in unlocking creativity at an early age by teaching children about three-dimensional shapes and colours, and their relationship to the environment and nature.

“Engaging small children outside of children’s museums is anathema to the art world and radical in itself. No surprise that his installations satisfy on many levels, with a grab-bag of forms – some perfect, some fractured – opportunities abound for creating models of all things seen, considered, and imagined. Seemingly entropic , O’Kane’s works are deceptively balanced, and can change like a kaleidoscope moment by moment, inevitably into any and every new configuration.


While the unrelated detritus of so-called scatter art often serves up a vague, incoherent one-liner, its “creator” daring us to affect comprehension, Eamon O’Kane’s installations resonate with the innate logic of nature, a language we all share. No small feat to make new art that engages on a non-verbal level decades after Kandinsky and Mondrian. But O’Kane’s interests are more than optical, and only distantly spiritual. History, as he references architects and designers whose childhoods trod in Froebel’s garden, supplies a secondary or tertiary layer for consideration, so we may follow, if we wish, in the footsteps of some of kindergarten’s illustrious graduates like Wright and Eames, both of whom used the system to change the world.”

An excerpt from “The Garden of Children” by Norman Brosterman.

A History of Play was exhibited at Roscommon Arts Centre in 2014 and consequently toured Nationally in 2015 to Galway Arts Centre, The Model Sligo and Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge.



Linda Shevlin has curated, facilitated and managed both large and small-scale visual arts projects including the 53rd Venice Biennale where she was project manager for the representative artists Gareth Kennedy & Sarah Browne and is Tulca Festival curator for 2018.

In 2017 she was the invited curator for the Hennessy Art Fund, purchasing new works for the IMMA collection and also curated the visual art programme for Bealtaine Festival 2017/2018 where she developed projects, commissions, residencies & exhibitions. with numerous Irish artists including Vivienne Dick, Kathy Prendergast, Kevin Gaffney, Pauline Cummins and Frances Mezzetti.

In 2016 she curated Radical Actions at RMIT Galleries, Melbourne as part of Culture Ireland’s 2016 International Programme ‘I Am Ireland’. The exhibition featured works by Duncan Campbell, Jesse Jones, Kennedy Browne and Seamus Nolan.

Other recent independent curatorial projects include Americana: Future Rural featuring John Gerrard (IE), Brian Duggan (IE), Kim Shively (USA) and M12 Studio (USA) at The Dock, Leitrim and Amharc Fhine Gall X commissioning Ella de Búrca, Ruth Clinton and Niamh Morriarty.

She has been awarded the Arts Council of Ireland’s Visual Arts Curatorial Residency award for three consecutive years (2013 – 2016) and in that time has produced a series of events and exhibitions in County Roscommon including newly commissioned works by Maria McKinney (IE) and Sean Lynch (IE); public art projects by Sean Rafferty (AUS), Ruth E. Lyons (IE) and Deirdre O’Mahony (IE), exhibitions by Martin Parr (UK), Duncan Campbell (IE) & Eamon O’Kane (IE) and a symposium titled The Workers with contributions from Adam Sutherland of Grizedale Arts (UK) & M12 Collective (USA) among others.

Shevlin is currently curator in residence with Roscommon Arts Centre & Solstice Arts Centre.


Linda Shevlin
Tivanagh School
Co. Roscommon
+353 86 605 2571
+353  71 966 4606