The Prequel Programme | Open call for submissions

Ormston House is delighted to launch the Prequel Programme: an on-going research project and active archive to provide new opportunities to contribute to and participate in our programme. We are now seeking proposals for the first manifestation: an exhibition titled The Founding Phant curated by Paul Quast & Joan Stack.

The latter end of Georgian Limerick consisted of a series of spectacles aimed to inspire reverence, curiosity and wonder in the population of the city. Huge renovations had restructured the city’s geography; state of the art technologies had begun to be utilised for development; ancient defensive walls had been declared obsolete, and a host of weird and wonderful creatures had begun to visit the city.

Patrick Street, where the Ormston House gallery is situated, served as a show-site in order to allow the citizens of Limerick to see, for the first time, many exotic animals and ‘fierce creatures’ brought to the city by merchants and travelling showmen. Two hundred years ago this year, the ‘Sagacious Elephant’ was one such creature to temporarily reside at the corner of Patrick and Ellen Street which became the venue thereafter for many more exhibitions and events to visit the city. As photography was still in its infancy, people had relied on drawings depicting the wondrous Elephant, but this event gave many their first opportunity to view one live in the flesh, creating a spectacle of sorts in Georgian Limerick society.

This spectacle was heightened by the interactivity of the ‘Sagacious Elephant’. Although the event functioned to highlight the Elephant’s keen awareness and marvellous intellect, the creature also performed and was trained to ‘lay down, get up, open doors, pick up objects with its trunk, and place them where, or deliver them to a person’. This interactivity draws stark comparisons with present day circus performances but back in Georgian Limerick this singular spectacle was hailed simply as ‘A Scientific Elephant!’

Artists are invited to respond, interpret or re-imagine the original ‘Sagacious Elephant’ article (published in the Limerick Chronicle on 4th May 1813) for an exhibition scheduled to open on 4th May 2013 to mark the 200th anniversary of the event. Using this article as a starting point, artists are invited to formulate a ‘spectacle’ in today’s society comparative to that of the ‘Scientific Elephant’ impact on Georgian Limerick.

To attain a copy of this article, please visit the purpose-built website;
or request a copy of the article via;

Please send 3 x jpg images or 1 x mov file, an artist’s CV, an artist’s biography/personal statement and a brief work statement (no more than 500 words including installation requirements and dimensions) to

Please mark the subject field as ‘The Founding Phant’. You should receive a response acknowledging your submission.

For more information email:

DEADLINE: Wednesday 20th March 2013, 5pm