Photo Essays | Burren College of Art

Updated on January 3, 2024 by Meg Pier

Photo Essays | What is Culture?

Here we present observations on how the landscape of the Burren influences culture and creativity from Mary Hawkes-Greene, President of Burren College of Art. Illustrating Mary's quotes are images of the experiences and art the College inspires. Mary founded the College with her late husband Michael Greene in 1994. The Burren College of Art is an internationally recognized Irish non-profit college specializing in undergraduate, postgraduate and alternative approaches to fine art education, and located in the Burren, a region in Ireland famous for its natural beauty and unique ecosystem.

Cultural Windows Photo Essay: Burren College of Art


A window into the Burren's Cultural Landscape as a Source of Inspiration & Creativity

Burren's Cultural Landscape Inspiration & Creativity

Photo: Kelly Goss


“Culture is a collective set of beliefs, values and norms that define who we are and how we live.”

Burren College of Art globalization homogenization

Photo: Burren College of Art


“In this age of globalization and homogenization, culture is the defining feature, it’s what gives us our identity. We are bound together by being on the planet but within that, our specific culture relates to the place that we live in.”

Burren college fields shape

Photo: Ava Mallett


“Burren comes from an Irish word meaning a rocky place. The Burren is fields and fields of limestone that have shifted to shape the Burren.”

Burren College of Art landscape archaeological

Photo: Burren College of Art


“The Burren is a very ancient landscape, it has more archaeological remains per square foot than any part of Ireland. You can feel the footsteps of the generations that have gone before.”

Burren College of Art place of great spirituality

Photo: Burren College of Art


“The Burren is a place of great spirituality, it’s in the DNA of the place.”

Burren College of Art Ireland  island  of saints

Photo: Burren College of Art


“Ireland was the island of saints and scholars back between the 6th and 16th century. The Burren was recognized as this special place that enabled reflection, that enabled deep thinking.”

Brehon Laws Irish psyche

Photo: Ava Mallett


“The Brehon Laws were an old Irish legal system that was in operation before we were forced to take on the British legal system, and it was a lot more suited to the Irish psyche, which was all about restorative justice, not punitive justice. You have to make up for and make good whatever wrongdoing you have caused.”

Burren College of Art reflection

Photo: Lucy Sanchez, Study Abroad Undergraduate, Burren College of Art


"The greatest capacity is to empathize & sense what the world needs & work with purpose. This comes naturally to artists, a deep knowing when something is right that comes from reflection."

artist  community values burren college

Photo: Kelly Goss


“Inward focus is important for the artist but community is one of our key values that we really promote and foster. There is attention to the individual but then there’s contribution to community. It’s so vital that they’re balanced.”

Burren College of Art ecology influence

Photo: Beth Alexander, Study Abroad Undergraduate, Burren College of Art


“We have a commitment to art and ecology and how an artist can influence ecological issues, and bring greater awareness and different ways of seeing global concerns.”

 young students  Abroad Undergraduate

Photo: Esther Elia, Study Abroad Undergraduate, Burren College of Art


“What I have noticed over 25 years of watching young students who have come here is that as they are enhancing their creative voice, so much personal development goes on. It’s mostly getting to know themselves and getting to lead themselves.”

challenge yourself situations art

Photo: Sherry Erskine, MFA, Burren College of Art


“It’s important to challenge yourself. I put myself in uncomfortable situations to make sure I don’t become locked into a certain way of thinking.”

transformation self-proclaimed creativit

Photo: Carolina Kane, Study Abroad Undergraduate, Burren College of Art


“Seeing the transformation that happens to artists who are self-proclaimed creative people and how their creativity can be enhanced, we have taken this concept through the umbrella of the centre of creativity and applied it to people who don’t consider themselves to be creative.”

independent education   individual artist

Photo: Kelly Gross


“Because of the fact we are independent, we have the ability to be very innovative, to be at the cutting edge of what education should be about and the development of the individual artist.”

education  learning & students talents & abilities<pstyle="color: #ffffff; text-align: center;">Photo: Esther Elia, Study Abroad Undergraduate, Burren College of Art

“Efforts to make education have measurable outcomes has led to rogue learning & students giving answer that's expected & getting an "A" vs education leading out individuals' talents & abilities.”

 Burren feeds my soul sanctuary

Photo: Jonathan Pivovar, Study Abroad Undergraduate, Burren College of Art


“The Burren feeds my soul. Being up in those hills communing with nature, no matter what is going on, the Burren provides me with a sanctuary, a peace that I absolutely rely on.”

Meg Pier

Meg Pier

Publisher and editor of People Are Culture (PAC). This article was created by original reporting that sourced expert commentary from local cultural standard-bearers. Those quoted provide cultural and historical context that is unique to their role in the community and to this article.


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