Mary Burke is a realist painter whose oeuvre or life’s work has dealt with painting suburban surroundings. In her student days at NCAD, she found herself drawn to this narrative. She continued developing this theme, painting suburban homes within striking distance of her house. She then developed another aspect of the thematic, painting details of homes: aspects of, or details within rooms and views through windows. In 2013 at the invitation of a local authority housing estate in Jobstown, Tallaght, Co Dublin. House Portraits was facilitated and funded by Tallaght Community Arts. There is a notable absence of people in her paintings but domestic animals make occasional appearances. She illuminates the banal and domestic, invigorating it but ensuring stillness within the painting. I was keenly interested when I saw Mary Burke’s collection of paintings entitled House Portraits. These paintings struck a chord with me. I was impressed by the research undertaken by sociologist Mary Corcoran which featured in the accompanying catalogue and wondered how it would transfer to the setting of Stradbally, Co Laois. I had the good fortune of meeting Mary Burke at the annual Speed Curating event arranged by Visual Artists Ireland (VAI) as part of their artists’ Get Together at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA). I invited her to visit the Laois Arthouse in Stradbally and to consider if she might be interested in transferring her skills to a rural town setting. In 2015 the idea of Townscape was borne following Mary’s visit to the Laois Arthouse. We wanted to include as wide a selection of homes and home owners in the town of Stradbally, indicative of the variety; modern, older, private and council owned. It would be a celebration of the town of Stradbally and the inhabitants therein. There is a great variety of homes to choose from and over the course of a year, Mary visited and photographed the homes selected. Mary has included paintings of undertakers John and Anne Lynch, with their home to the rear of their business on Main Street. Also on Main Street are the home of Christine Mulhall and David Kennedy and the parochial house, home to Rev Jim Ó Connell, the then parish priest. John and Irene Delaney who live in Brockley Park, a development designed by architect Frank Gibney for Laois County Council in the 1950s and indicative of Gibney’s careful consideration of site, aspect and orientation. Brockley Park is a fine oval design for a small estate of 20 houses including a large green area to the centre. This estate is beside Mc Keon Stone, the renowned limestone yard and workplace for many notable Irish and international sculptors. INTRODUCTION 1 Muireann Ní Chonaill Arts Officer and Curator of Townscape