Our major forthcoming loan exhibition, ‘The Art of a Nation: Irish Works from the Allied Irish Banks and Crawford Art Gallery Collections’, was announced on Monday at a special press conference held in the Irish Embassy. Ireland’s Ambassador, Mr Daniel Mulhall, was joined for the occasion by AIB chairman Richard Pym and Mall Galleries’ chairman Michael Portillo.
The exhibition, which opens at Mall Galleries on 13 May 2015, offers gallery visitors in London and across the UK with their first opportunity in over thirty years to view an outstanding collection of Irish painting, sculpture and photography covering the period 1900 to the present day.
During the twentieth century, many Irish artists studied or practised in England before returning to put the ‘Irishness’ into Irish art. Some of these artists exhibited with the same art societies that still exhibit at Mall Galleries each year: Aloysius O’Kelly exhibited with the ROI, the RI and the RBA; Roderic O’Conor, Sir William Orpen and Sir John Lavery all exhibited with the NEAC; Letitia Hamilton and F.E. McWilliam both exhibited with the RBA. Director Lewis McNaught speaking at the conference drew attention to these strong historic links that exist between the art societies that exhibit at Mall Galleries today and those many Irish artists who exhibited with these same societies in the past.
Some of the artists in ‘The Art of a Nation’ will be familiar to UK gallery visitors, like Jack B Yeats, Sir William Orpen, William Scott, Willie Doherty and Sean Scully. Others will be less familiar, but they contributed no less to Ireland’s rich culture and heritage. As yesterday’s column in The Irish Times noted, ‘it’s especially valuable that the work of such higher profile figures will be seen in its immediate context, historically and communally’.
Make sure you check our Events pages for full details of special events during the exhibition, open daily 10am-5pm from May 13-31.
1) Mall Galleries chairman Michael Portillo, AIB chairman Richard Pym and the Irish Ambassador Daniel Mulhall
2) A selection of paintings from the exhibition was available to demonstrate the range and quality of the collection
3) Anthony J Lester, co-curator of the exhibition, discusses ‘Corpus Christi Procession’ (1880) by Aloysius O’Kelly
Photo credits: Andy Barnham (www.andybarnham.com)