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Studio Giftig consists of the Netherlands-based artist duo Niels van Swaemen (1982 Eindhoven, the Netherlands) and Kaspar van Leek (1983 Philipsburg, St. Maarten). Both have been active in street art for some time as individuals. In 2007 they come into contact with each other. The duo developed a common style of painting, with which they became known through their highly detailed realistic murals. In addition to the quality of the paintings, the characteristic own visual language of Studio Giftig has the characteristic element that all images are autonomously designed. Recognizable by the process in which they work is the way in which they translate their own personal concepts by photographing the objects or models themselves to create total autonomy within their visual language as a starting point for their paintings.


After their first solo exhibition in 2016, they started to focus more and more on their autonomous work, in which surreal elements have played an increasingly important role. By placing everyday situations in a surrealistic perspective within their work, they use the visual imagination of the viewer to create a suggestive representation. The themes of their paintings depend on their own insights and context or location of the work. At present, Studio Giftig perform their autonomous work both for themselves and for galleries and prominent clients and won the "Street Art Cities" award for "Best mural worldwide 2022".

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(Roesia de Verdun born 1204 – died 1247)

Period in history: 13th Century


Lady Roesia de Verdun is largely portrayed as a powerful and sometimes malicious figure, who had few scruples. She was also a wife, mother of 5 children, widow and most unusually in this period in history, a castle builder – in fact she was the only woman to build a castle in Ireland, making her one of the most powerful women of her time!


She managed her estate with an iron fist, confronting her enemies and defending her property, taking legal action against anyone who encroached on her territory. There is also a story told of Roesia riding out on horseback leading her troops, in full armour, to keep her Gaelic enemies at bay, or so the legend goes.

‘There can be no doubt that in order to successfully erect and maintain castles in thirteenth century Ireland required a woman of remarkable vision and perhaps ruthlessness.’ Dr Gillian Kenny (Hon Research Associate at the Centre for Gender and Women's Studies in Trinity College Dublin)


The Castle is believed to have been built in 1236 after the death of her husband. The story goes that she promised her hand in marriage to the architect who would build her castle at Roche.  When he went to claim her hand, she had him thrown from one of the windows, which to this day is known as the 'murder window'.


The De Verdon family remained in this fortress for several generations. But Roesia’s story does not end there. Instead of simply retiring to a nunnery as some medieval women did, Roesia actually established her own. Although she was initially met with opposition she was undeterred, and in 1239/40 she set up the Augustinian Priory of Grace Dieu in Belton in Leicestershire. Roesia spent the last five years of her life in Belton, and died there in her mid-forties.


Castle Roche is one of the most striking Anglo-Norman castles in Ireland and can be viewed for miles around. Located on a rocky hilltop, seven miles NW of Dundalk, it commands wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. The site of the castle marked the boundary between the Gaelic province of Ulster and the Anglo-Norman 'Pale' and overlooked an ancient route into what is now south Armagh. The formidable structure, comprised a great hall, which may have been up to three storeys high.


The castle itself served as a vital strategic stronghold, this imposing structure standing on the precipitous southern edge of a high rock, it’s tall towers and merloned walls can be seen for miles away in almost all directions. Two big semi-circular towers flank the gateway fronting the moat hewn out of the rock. What remains today is one of the finest castellated ruins you will find in Ireland, and ensures that the legend of Lady Roesia de Verdun's lives on.

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