Cow House Studios

Cow House Studios

About

Cow House Studios is a progressive artist-run school and residency set in the farmland of county Wexford, Ireland. A productive farm to this day, the 180 acres of land provide an authentic and inspirational backdrop while facilitating multidisciplinary practices for artists in residence and students, focusing on cross-cultural learning and creative exchange.

2021 Dates Announced

We are grateful to be running our 2020 FieldWorks gap year program and have added an additional 2021 spring session. We just updated our website with these dates. Please check out our website for more details as well as information about Art on the Farm, our summer program for teens.
Founded
2008

Scholarships

Woman sitting on stool in front of easel with paintbrush
Cow House Studios Gap & Summer Scholarships

Cow House Studios offer several scholarship opportunities for both our summer program Art on the Farm and our gap year program FieldWorks. All scholarship applicants must submit a portfolio that demonstrates an advanced practice. We assess student portfolios by determining how the realization of completed artworks reflects a young artist’s curiosities, concerns, experience, and research. You can read more about these opportunities and the application process on our website.

Value
$1,300 - $12,950

Reviews

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Megan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Going into this program I really wasn't sure what to expect. I definitely thought it would be neat to be able to visit a country I had never been to before, and I was really looking forward to being able to work around other artists and develop my artistic practice further.
After spending three months there and being able to look back on everything I was able to do, and the wonderful people I was able to meet and get to know. The experience that Cow House Studios provides is an extremely unique and beautiful one at that. What it gave to me, more than anything else was the chance to grow hugely as an individual, and in such a way that I'm not sure would've happened if I hadn't gone. I certainly grew as an artist as well. The amount of art that someone can make there is almost limitless, as long as you've got the drive. They certainly provide the tools and the time for excessive art making, it was often encouraged.
Their family style approach to welcoming the people that take part in this program is amazing, and I've never felt so at home while being so far away...Haha not that I didn't miss home, I definitely did. But there's really something special about this place. Whether its the people that run it, the landscape around it or the art that gets made in it, it's all amazing and incredibly beneficial to the soul.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would eat more of their food. Haha I didn't mention it in the other part of my review but their food is amazing... and I miss it a lot.
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Rory
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Everyone should come to Cow House. This is an experience like no other. My skills were furthered by excellent instruction and my heart was filled with joy every step of the way. Rosie and Frank are two of the most kindhearted people I have ever met, and have such a passion for art, that it’s contagious. Caitriona kept me laughing, and her food was absolutely incredible. Everyday brought a new challenge and new experience. If you’re an artist, this is the place to completely surround yourself in inspiration, and have the time to further your art practice. If you have the chance to go to Cow House, take it!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
My advice would be to completely indulge yourself into this program. Explore, be curious and don’t stop trying new things. Say yes to everything! You won’t regret it.
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Lilli
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I can't stress enough how great the three months I spent at Cow House last fall were! I was mind blown by the location and facilities, we had access to every means of making I could've asked for and endless support from Frank, Rosie, and the visiting artists. It didn't take long to feel completely at home; the housing is so comfortable and beautiful, the food is great, and everyone on the farm is incredibly welcoming (they're also just cool people in general). The opportunity to work so closely with other students and instructors allowed me to grow in ways I didn't expect, not just as an artist but as a person, too. It was really special to get to know everyone and what they make as well as we did.
I never ran out of things to do there; when we weren't in the studio we were exploring the area, hanging out in the library (which has tons of interesting novels and artist books), or going on trips around Ireland. Frank and Rosie are great at balancing how much time we spent on the farm and how much we travelled; our day/overnight trips were frequent enough that I felt like I was always seeing new things but spaced out in such a way that we could really dig into our studio time before heading out again. Fieldworks is such a well-rounded program, and the time I spent there feels so rich with experience and growth. Frank and Rosie are amazing people + artists and I am so thankful to know them. I hope to return one day and highly recommend the program to anybody who makes any kind of art!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
-Try everything the studio has to offer, it is super well equipped
-The forest is crazy! Definitely spend time in it, and explore the surrounding area
-Hang out with the animals, they are all such characters

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Kaiser
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved my time here. The faculty - Frank and Rosie and Caitriona (the chef) - were all so kind, helpful, and caring. The farm is beautiful, the food is delicious, and the excursions that we took all over Ireland as part of the program were so fun. We worked in multiple mediums of art; I got to try out film photography, video art, bookmaking, and pen-and-ink-drawing for the first time. We were constantly challenged but I never felt an exceeding amount of pressure. The opportunity to visit galleries and museums, and talk to working artists broadened what I fundamentally thought about art. I think I have really matured as an artist after my time here, and I now understand so much more about the professional world of contemporary art. It's clear that Frank and Rosie, and the rest of the Cow House crew, really put their hearts into designing the curriculum and schedule. I'd definitely recommend this to any high school graduates who like art.

What would you improve about this program?
I think it would be nice if there were more non-American students.
Kaiser
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved my time here. The faculty - Frank and Rosie and Caitriona (the chef) - were all so kind, helpful, and caring. The farm is beautiful, the food is delicious, and the excursions that we took all over Ireland as part of the program were really eyeopening and exciting. We worked in multiple mediums of art; I got to try out film photography, video art, bookmaking, and pen-and-ink-drawing for the first time. We were constantly challenged but I never felt an exceeding amount of pressure. The opportunity to visit galleries and museums and talk to working artists really broadened what I fundamentally thought about art. I think that I have really matured as an artist after my time here, and I now understand so much more about the professional world of contemporary art. It's clear that Frank and Rosie, and the rest of the Cow House crew, really put their hearts into designing the curriculum and schedule. I'd definitely recommend this to any high school graduates who like art.

What would you improve about this program?
I think it would be awesome if there were more non-American students taking part in the program.

Programs

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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Rosie O'Gorman

Job Title
Co-Director
Rosie O’Gorman was born and raised in Wexford. She is a mother, an artist, a dedicated teacher, and her ancestral home is now the place where Cow House Studios resides.

Rosie attended the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, receiving her BA in Art and Design Education. From Dublin, she moved to San Francisco where she received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute with the support of a Fulbright Scholarship. Her art practice includes drawing, painting, installation and sculpture.

Through Cow House Studios Rosie shares her home, family and her love of art.

What is your favorite travel memory?

I always find it hard to pick favourites, but one of my favourite things is when we find a place that we want to return to time and time again with our students as well as with friends and family. I love sharing special spots in my home country but also seeing them with fresh eyes through the experiences of our guests. I am always looking for places that are off the beaten track; seeking authentic experiences that offer a meaningful glimpse into a new place.

A few years ago, I was researching an area named Mizen Head, located on Ireland’s most southerly point in county Cork. Cork has become one of our favourite counties because of its wild natural beauty and food culture. I was interested in traveling all the way to the end of Mizen Head and in my research,a I came across a place called “Three Castle Head.” It sparked my interest, but I found only a little information online. I learned that it was on private land and that the owner was happy to allow visitors to cross through his fields to reach the castle.

We decided to take our next group of summer students to see Three Castle Head. Venturing on the winding and spectacularly beautiful road to Mizen Head, our bus seemed to grow bigger as the road became narrower and narrower. We parked in a small car park and walked uphill towards a farmhouse. We saw a hand-painted sign with an arrow saying” Three Castle Head”. It also reminded us to close the gates to keep the sheep in.

We followed the lightly trodden grass path and hiked up over softly rolling hills; not really sure how many hills we would need to cross in order to reach the castle. When the final hill was climbed, the view that lay before us was utterly magical; we looked down into the valley on DunLough castle. DunLough or Dun a Locha, which means the fort of the lake, was built by Donagh an Aimrice O’Mahoney in 1207. A 20-foot high wall connected the towers all the way from a cliff edge to the lake creating a defensive vantage point. Now the castle stands as a ruin, akin to something from a modern-day fantasy.

This remains one of my fondest memories because of the sense of adventure that we shared with our students; it was as if we had just discovered this very special place together.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

When Frank and I established Cow House, we were both in our late twenties; we had just finished grad school and were embarking on the adventure of renovating the studios and developing our programming. We had very specific things that we needed to focus on, and in the every-day tasks, we had very specific lists of things to do in order to get our space and our programming up and running.

Over the last 12 years, I have come to realize the interconnected nature of everything we do. Initially, it seemed like all the so many little tasks and details were all separate from each other; one a list to be completed. This is not at all the case because, since we carefully consider every aspect of our guests who stay at Cow House, each detail is connected to the whole experience. Students and artists alike come to Cow House ultimately to make art, but every aspect of their experience can nurture their creative process.

Eating delicious meals, laughing around the dinner table, snuggling with the cats, trips to the local village, overcoming a challenge, sharing a pot of tea, jumping in the pond, hiking the mountain for sunrise, or chatting with my Dad who farms the land; all these varied moments can feed a creative and inquisitive mind in making art.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

My favourite type of story is one of transformation. We have heard many stories over the years of how transformative the experience has been for students who have participated in our summer program. We often hear these stories months or sometimes years later from the student themselves or on the grapevine from a family member or another student. We learn how their time here changed their life and helped carve a path forward.

It means the world to hear such reflections. As an artist, I understand how challenging and nourishing it can be to make art. Being a teen can be hard; we want to give a voice to their thoughts and concerns. Art is a way to give form and virtue to their experiences of the world.

And so it means a lot to hear about the positive and lasting effect that a few weeks with us can have.

Recently, I was speaking with a student from California who is interested in attending our summer program. She learned about our program from her sister’s friend, Josh. Josh attended our summer program 8 years ago and he is now due to graduate from art college. I asked what she had learned from Josh about our program. Josh told her that his time in Ireland changed his life; it changed how he saw art and how he makes art.

It’s wonderful to recognise the value of a certain moment in time; to see how pivotal a specific experience can be. As an educator, it’s really such a privilege to hear these stories.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

If I could travel back to speak with my 16-year-old self, I would encourage her to participate in Art on the Farm, our teen summer program.

We welcome all sorts of personalities for the summer, from the confident and outgoing to the introverted and shy. Our students come from different parts of the world, they have varied life experiences, outlooks, and interests. What draws these people together is a desire to make art with a small group of people in a unique rural setting. This gathering of personalities generates an environment of openness and acceptance, where our students take huge strides in making art while learning much about themselves and others along the way.

Art on the Farm provides a valuable way to meet other people who share a love of art. The most important quality in our students is not their experience level, but their desire to participate. This creates wonderful energy in the studio, centered on meaningful exchange and understanding. It's heartwarming to see students open up to each other through their art, and to witness the bonds they create through that shared experience; to see they have found their tribe. Young Rosie would have loved that!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Often, when people being a substantial project, they are following a passion; they have a love for something. Frank, my husband, and I love art; we value its importance in the world.

We also love teaching and creating a space where opportunities for exchange and new ways of thinking are presented to our students. We love seeing the kernel of an idea develop and mature into a realised work. We love seeing how art allows students to connect with themselves and the world around them.

This genuine passion for art and education is at the core of what we do, but in the pursuit of building a successful program, another equally important factor is the care we put into every detail of what we do at Cow House. It’s one thing to love what you do, but you are not going to love every aspect of what you have to do to make a company succeed. But care needs to go into everything; this care and attention is reflected at every level of the experience and creates something very special.

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