Barrie Cooke

18 November – 14 January 2012

This exhibition will celebrate the work of Barrie Cooke’s immense career as he reaches his 80th Birthday this year.

Curated by Karen Sweeney, Assistant Curator at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the exhibition opened at IMMA in June. A selected group of works have been chosen to tour to the Crawford Art Gallery in November and then to the Centre Culturel Irlandais Paris in February 2012.

The Barrie Cooke exhibition will showcase works spanning his entire career as an abstract expressionist painter from both private and institutional collections. The exhibition will explore Cooke’s continuous reference of the natural world; from the breathtaking paintings of an ancient Irish elk found in a bog and the bone boxes of the 1970s to the energetic paintings of rural Irish landscape and the famous nude portraits.

Much of Barrie Cooke’s career has been in Ireland where he moved to in 1954 from his hometown of Cheshire in England, and considers himself an Irish painter as his aesthetic as an expressionist artist developed in Ireland. Barrie Cooke had his first solo exhibition in Dublin in 1955 and has had major exhibitions including the Haags Gemeentemuseum in the Netherlands. Cooke is very well travelled and this has contributed to his unique style of work, from visiting places such as New Zealand and Malaya to even Lapland.

This exhibition will recognise the prodigious achievements of Barrie Cooke’s career and an extensive catalogue is available with a foreword by the Irish Museum of Modern Art Director Enrique Juncosa; and essays by poet Seamus Heaney, Karen Sweeney, Brian Dillion and an interview by Dorothy Cross.

For more information on the exhibition and images contact
Anne Boddaert at the exhibition office:

BURKE + NORFOLK photographs from the war in Afghanistan by John Burke & Simon Norfolk

April 20 - June 30, 2012

ARTIST TALK: Simon Norfolk will discuss the exhibition and his practice on Thursday 19 April at 5:30 pm.

Crawford Art Gallery is delighted to present Burke + Norfolk: photographs from the war in Afghanistan by John Burke and Simon Norfolk, who is shortlisted for the internationally acclaimed 2012 Sony World Photography Award.

In October 2010, Simon Norfolk began a series of new photographs in Afghanistan, which takes its cue from the work of nineteenth-century Irish photographer John Burke (c. 1843-1900).   Burke was the first photographer to make pictures in Afghanistan. He accompanied British forces during the invasion that became the Second Anglo-Afghan War from 1878-1880, producing albums of prints for sale.  Virtually unknown today, Burke was a precursor of the contemporary photo-journalist producing work that went beyond reportage. His images do not reinforce British colonial values, but allow for a critical and nuanced reading of the relationship between the British forces and their Afghan peers. 

Simon Norfolk (b. 1963) is a landscape photographer whose work over the last ten years has been themed around a probing and stretching of the meaning of the word ‘battlefield’ in all its forms. Norfolk’s photographs re-imagine or respond to Burke’s Afghan war scenes in the context of the contemporary conflict. Conceived as a collaborative project with Burke across time, this body of work by Simon Norfolk is presented alongside John Burke’s images. Rather than artificially restaging Burke’s compositions exactly, Norfolk identified contemporary equivalents, researching and travelling to Burke’s vantage points and developing a digital equivalent of his collodion wet plate technique. Norfolk finds many of the original locations of Burke’s work and conveys modern parallels with their subject matter depicting soldiers, bomb-sites, tented communities, alongside images of contemporary culture such as internet cafés and radar stations.

The exhibition is accompanied by a short film by Simon Norfolk discussing his relationships with John Burke and contemporary Afghanistan.

Burke + Norfolk originated at Tate Modern, London (2011).

Simon Norfolk has exhibited internationally including Exposed, Voyuerism, Surveillance and the Camera, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and Walker Art Museum, Minneapolis (2011), Burke + Norfolk, Tate Modern, London (2011). In recent years he has shown at the Shanghai Art Museum, Russian Academy of Fine Arts, Moscow, the Imperial War Museum and has received many awards for his work including being shortlisted for the prestigious 2012 Sony World Photography Award, The European Publishers Award for Photography; The Olivier Rebbot Award (Foreign Press Club of America) and The Infinity Award (ICP, New York). His work is in major public and private collections throughout the world. 

Simon Norfolk - Masterclass

June 28 - July 1, 2012. For further information click here

A Rocky Road

November 2011 – January 2012

A Rocky Road
An exhibition curated by Seán Lynch
Crawford Art Gallery, Cork

A Rocky Road is an exhibition investigating artistic production and its reception in Ireland.  With an emphasis on the social realities that cultural invention has encountered in the country, several topics repeatedly arise: conservative reactions and protest to the growth of modern art, vandalism of artworks, and the newsworthy character of artists with their many creative ideas and schemes are all prominent.

Through existing artworks, artifacts, and new commissions, the exhibition considers the underlying attitudes of what could be termed an ‘aesthetics of reception.’ Public response and the subsequent afterlife of an artwork are considered as themes of enquiry, as relevant as the creative intentions that bring the artwork into being.  Populist reaction to exhibits, media coverage and reactionary politics have often opposed various forms of artmaking in Ireland over the last forty years. By focusing on and gathering together a selection of these instances into a common heritage, they can be considered more than occasional oddities in the progress of history. Instead their presentation might be viewed as a recurring antagonism that evidences the challenges art has posed to the public realm and Irish society at large.

A series of photographs by Gerard Byrne document an empty space where an Irish Pavilion for the Venice Biennale was once proposed to be built. John Carson’s A Bottle of Stout in Every Bar in Buncrana presents an artistic effort to obtain sponsorship from the Guinness brewery to distribute a poster about the consumption of alcohol. A new video by Nigel Rolfe reacts to a newspaper report of the 1970s of his sculptures being attacked in County Wexford. An overview is presented of alterations to and public controversy surrounding Eilis O’Connell’s The Great Wall of Kinsale, the largest sculpture in Ireland and the UK in 1987. Danny McCarthy sprinkles chalkdust erased from a Joseph Beuys blackboard after his lecture in 1974 around the gallery spaces of the Crawford. A collection of archival material from national broadcaster RTE charts the development of the formats in which art is presented on TV. Other presentations include a print by David Lilburn and photos by Owen South, the Tau Cross of Kilnaboy, Tim Rollins and KOS with Charles Haughey, the Irish Daily Mirror newspaper and the opinions of Pierre Restany.

Dorothy Cross ‘Jellyfish Lake’ (2002)

Jellyfish Lake is a film by Dorothy Cross resulting from investigations into the biomechanics of Chironex fleckeri, the jellyfish. Filmed in an isolated lake, estimated to be 12,000 years old, in Palau, Micronesia, millions of golden jellyfish migrate across the lake daily.

Cross plunges the viewer under water to view a naked woman floating beneath the sunlit surface. Hair drifting and pulsating like the multiple golden jellyfish around her pale-skinned body, it echoes the hypnotic rhythms of the jellyfish.

Unlike the solid form of the body, the contrasting golden jellyfish are amorphous and transparent yet there is mutual awareness: the human form is laid bare to nature‘s defences but collide temporarily. The body displaces the sentient primitive jellyfish but they brush by it making their presence felt both physically and visually. The jellyfish merely investigate, along with our gaze.

Jellyfish Lake is part of Cross’s ongoing investigations to reposition man in nature and to reflect on the role for artists within a world facing increasing environmental and cultural changes.

A Question of Attribution: The Arcadian Landscapes of Nathaniel Grogan and John Butts

Until 7 April 2012

In February 2012 the Crawford Art Gallery will present an exhibition of work by John Butts (c.1728-1765) and his pupil Nathaniel Grogan (c.1740-1807), both of whom lived and worked in Cork. Both artists lived a precarious existence, although they produced many fine paintings. They recorded fascinating aspects of Cork’s social and economic life in the eighteenth century.

The paintings of Grogan and Butts are often similar in style, and over the years there has been much discussion amongst art historians, as to the attribution of works to these artists. In 2005, one of the most important paintings in the Gallery, the View of Cork, for many years thought to be by Grogan, was re-attributed to Butts. There is still debate about who painted this panoramic view of the city around 1750, and this will be part of the exhibition's theme, to look at the evidence presented, for and against attribution to a particular artist. In addition, works previously thought to be by George Barret and Thomas Roberts are now thought to be by Butts.

The son of a carpenter, Nathaniel Grogan was born in Cork around 1740. His views of Dripsey, Healy’s Bridge and Blarney are fascinating records of landscape, as well as local industries such as iron working and paper making. Grogan also painted a decorative ceiling in Vernon Mount house, as well as producing a set of aquatints of Cork in the 1790’s. Very little is known of the life of John Butts. Born around 1728, after training as an artist and working in Cork, he moved to Dublin in 1757, where he painted sets for the theatre. He died in poverty in 1765.

There has never been an exhibition that addresses the attribution of works to these two artists. Prompted in part by the recent acquisition of Grogan’s View of Sullivan’s Paper Mills at Dripsey, the Crawford Gallery sets out to remedy this by presenting some of Grogan’s best-known paintings, and comparing them to known works by Butts. A centerpiece will be Grogan’s Boats on the River Lee below Tivoli, (National Gallery of Ireland), which will be re-united for the first time in over a century with its four companion pieces, showing views of Blackrock Castle, Tivoli and the Lower Glanmire Road.

Lenders to the exhibition include the National Gallery of Ireland, the Irish Heritage Trust (Fota House), University of Limerick, the Office of Public Works and private collectors. A catalogue will be published to accompany the exhibition, with essays by Tom Dunne, Mary Jane Boland and William Laffan. The exhibition is curated by Peter Murray, assistant curator Elena Rossi.


July 13–October 27, 2012

This summer, Crawford Art Gallery will present a major exhibition of the work of Irish artist Sean Keating (1889-1977) opening to the public on Friday 13 July 2012. 

Entitled ‘Seán Keating: Contemporary Contexts’, curated by Dr Éimear O’Connor HRHA, in collaboration with Crawford Art Gallery, the exhibition aims to encourage a re-evaluation of the artist’s contribution to Irish life as an artist, and as a cultural commentator in the difficult post-Treaty years as Ireland sought a new national and international identity.

To commemorate Keating’s achievements, and to acknowledge the post-colonial circumstances in which he worked, the paintings on exhibition in Seán Keating: Contemporary Contexts are mainly those of the artist, but shown alongside work by several of his contemporaries, such as Sir John Lavery, Jack B. Yeats, Grace Henry, Patrick Hennessy and Colin Middleton, most of whom used a different style, or strategy, to respond to the social contexts that engaged Keating at one time or another in his career.

The exhibition will feature many of Keating’s better-known paintings alongside several little-known examples, and a few that had been written about but were lost to art history and are now re-discovered. The central theme that emerges is that Keating was, throughout his life, a political painter. Allied to this, his use of modern equipment: the epidiascope, camera, and from the 1930s onwards, the cine-camera, indicate his interest in modernity. By virtue of his project to continually paint emerging history and his politicised response to many aspects of Irish life in the post-colonial era, Keating’s work and circumstances epitomise the tension between tradition and modernity that is now understood to have been absolutely necessary in the quest for a national identity.

His project to create an Irish school of art, often featuring models with a personal history of political identity, and his activism through articles, broadcasts and various controversies, demonstrate that he was a painter of modern life who, far from being right-thinking and conservative, actually made a major contribution to Ireland’s cultural identity at home, and abroad. Keating’s work, particularly the images that offer critiques of the governing classes, and the socio-economic conditions, have a resounding relevance in the twenty-first century, when economic distress, and emigration have once again returned to remove families from their traditional roots.

The multi-media exhibition will feature papers, photographs, artifacts, broadcasts, paintings and media from the Keating Papers, private collections and National Cultural Institutions within Ireland.

Admission Free

A full colour catalogue with an essay by curator Dr. Éimear O’Connor will be published to accompany the exhibition.

A comprehensive guided tour programme and an education pack will also be available. 

For further information
contact: exhibitions@crawfordartgallery.ieIn addition, Seán Keating and the ESB: Enlightenment and Legacy, a celebration of the artist’s work on the ‘Shannon Scheme’ in the 1920s and Pollaphouca in the 1940s, curated by Dr Éimear O’Connor will open at the RHA Gallagher Gallery, Dublin in September 2012

Simon Fujiwara The Museum of Incest

Until June 27, 2012

The Crawford Art Gallery is pleased to present, for the first time in Ireland, the British/Japanese artist Simon Fujiwara. In collaboration with Tate St Ives, the exhibition will showcase an ongoing installation, The Museum of Incest. This piece is considered one of Fujiwara’s most crucial works as it marks the beginning of his career. The Museum of Incest is Fujiwara’s fictive recreation of the story of mankind’s evolution, and the objects are archived and displayed in a museum-like setting. These articles and artifacts mix the personal and the fictitious to create a myth of human origins and explicit sexual archeology that starts at the footsteps of man to Fujiwara’s present family background. Fujiwara has described his work as a ‘journey of personal discovery.’

Simon Fujiwara was born in London in 1982 and grew up in Cornwall. He currently lives and works in Berlin. Fujiwara's work has been met with critical acclaim both in the UK and Internationally, and his first major solo show opened in January 2012 at Tate St Ives. Notable achievements include winning The Cartier Award to produce a work for the Frieze Art Fair in the UK and The Baloise Art Prize at Art Statements, Basel 41 both in 2010. He has participated in several biennials including Manifesta 8 and The 29th Sao Paulo Biennial in 2010 and The Singapore Biennial and Performa 11 in 2011.

A guide to The Museum of Incest by Simon Fujiwara will be available to accompany the exhibition with essays by Peter Murray, Director Crawford Art Gallery; Martin Clark, Artistic Director Tate St Ives and Rachael Thomas, Head of Exhibitions, IMMA.
Price €8

Exhibition curated by Rachael Thomas, Head of Exhibitions, IMMA.

Simon Fujiwara, The Museum of Incest, exhibition has received funding from the Goethe Institut, The German Department of Foreign Affairs and British Council. The Crawford Art Gallery is very grateful for all their support.

As part of the Cork Midsummer Festival (21 June – 1 July 2012.)

For Guided Tours for groups contact the Education Team:  /

Littoral Ground

Until 17 November 2012

The exhibition brings together various interpretations by artists from Ireland and Great Britain of borders; from the quite literal borders between land and sea and county borders in Tim Goulding’s, The Field Trip *23 and the transitional border between day and night, Eric S. Patton, Dawn. To the use of line and colour and the spaces it creates seen in Naomi Boretz, Floating Landscape and contrasting materials from Paul Mosse’s, Untitled.

The selection started with the rarely seen delicate etchings by the artist Norman Ackroyd (b.1938) and his explorations of the Irish west coast landscape. A coastal border defined by the ever-changing weather.

This exhibition presents works from the Crawford Art Gallery’s permanent collection from the 20th and 21st Century.

Viviane Sassen - Parasomnia

18 October–24 November 2012

As part of the city-wide photographic event THERE, THERE curated by Stag & Deer, Parasomnia by Viviane Sassen will be exhibited in the Sculpture Gallery.

The series’ title Parasomnia alludes to sleep disorders and occurrences of anomalous and unusual actions. The body of work engages with our perception of the world and weaves elements of fine art, fashion and documentary generating something new: bold and perplexing, colourful yet serious, lucid and enigmatic. The visual constructions on show are a result of the collaboration of the nature of the subjects and Sassen’s presence as a photographer.

They are playful and skilful manipulations of the physical body to symbolise moments of ambiguity and disorientation. Her images exude a vibrant dreamlike force, which is immediate yet leaves open a space to interpret happenings and occurrences. Within the images resides a latent force of sculptural stasis, the power of the body and the world it is held in. In Sassen’s Parasomnia, as with dreams, we are left in a place of uncertainty with an insistence on our own imaginative response.

Viviane Sassen is a photographer based in Amsterdam. Part of her early childhood was spent in Kenya with a later move back to the Netherlands. The works in Parasomnia were taken in various parts of East Africa from 2008 – 2011 and represent an alternative vision to what we are familiar with from the African continent. They are mergings and abstractions of Sassen’s past life in Africa and her now working practice, allowing for a searching of imagination, thoughts and presumptions. Sassen won the Dutch Prix De Rome in 2007 and an Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography in 2011.

THERE THERE is a photographic event and exhibition bringing more than 30 international, national and local lens based artists, curated by Stag & Deer and is kindly supported by Cork City Council.

There There Digital Brochure (pdf 4mb)

See for event details.

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