In January 2014, the Crawford Art Gallery presents the first exhibition to celebrate the work of Cork-born artist Samuel Forde (1805-28). The exhibition – curated by Michael Waldron and Dr Shane Lordan - focuses on Forde as an early student of the Cork School of Art and a product of the wider visual arts culture of the later Georgian period. Central to the exhibition is an in-depth analysis of Forde’s unfinished masterpiece, Fall of the Rebel Angels (1828), in conjunction with his preparatory sketches and excerpts from his diary. It also considers the influence of artists, writers, and material from the School itself to deconstruct Forde’s works and contextualise his creative and intellectual significance. Ahead of the Canova Casts’ bicentenary, this timely exhibition seeks to recover Samuel Forde’s artistic legacy and restore his memory to public consciousness.
Painted by candlelight Participants will have the unique opportunity to make studies from works of art lit by candlelight, recreating Samuel Forde’s studio conditions. Participation is free but places are limited. Sessions last for 90 minutes.
Hassan Hajjaj: My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume I and Nassiem Valamanesh: Distant Words
17 January–1 March 2014
Crawford Art Gallery is delighted to present work by Hassan Hajjaj and Nassiem Valamanesh as part of its ongoing screening series by Irish and international artists. In a new departure, Crawford Art Gallery has invited Rose Issa, a leading expert on contemporary visual art and film from the Arab world and Iran to curate the exhibition. Both Hassan Hajjaj and Nassiem Valamanesh's work explore the interface of living in and between merging cultures paradoxically highlighting alienation and embracing the differences. Hassan Hajjaj's installationMy Rock Stars Experimental, Volume I is simultaneously a haut-couture street experiment and a revival of African photography from the 1960s and 70s, while celebrating present-day musicians, unsung artists and personal inspirations in the artist's life. The film is part of a series of works which is an on-going examination of belonging in an increasingly globalized society where boundaries of cultural identity – most notably African, Arabic and Western – are constantly changing. Hajjaj, designs the costumes of the musicians and singers using traditional fabrics and found objects which he sources from local markets in his town of birth, Marrakech, and in doing so, bridges the gap between past and present cultures, creating pieces that seamlessly merge folkloric elements into Western contemporary art. Hassan Hajjajlives and works in London and Marrakesh. He has established an international following for his photography and video, and his work features in several prestigious public and private collections worldwide including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (LACMA), Los Angeles and Kamel Lazaar Foundation, Tunisia. Nassiem Valamanesh's work lies between narrative filmmaking and video art and is sustained by bold imagery, soundscapes and a sense of humour mixed with a melancholy that reflects his unique worldview. Distant Words continues Valamanesh's engagement with themes of longing and loneliness, not for a loved one or a place but for the ability to communicate and speak one’s mind. Valamanesh's film combines animation, text and photography in which the artist conveys his isolation and frustration in his inability to speak the language when travelling through his father’s country, Iran. The film references the loss of language with a seemingly un-diagnosable medical condition and the sometimes gloomy existence of living between cultures.Valalmanesh's films, including titles Little Noel Wants to Fly, My Beijing Friend, Side by Side and Distant Words have been screened widely at film festivals and in 2013 Valamanesh received an award from the Farhang Foundation'a 6th Annual Iranian Short Film Festival at LACMA.
Hassan Hajjaj will talk about his practice alongside a performance by musician Simo Lagnawi who is featured in Hajjaj's film, on Wednesday 19 March at 6pm.
Curated by Rose Issa
VISIBLE POETRY Samuel Palmer
Until 14 June 2014
The Crawford Art Gallery is delighted to present an exhibition of the complete etchings of Samuel Palmer (1805-1881), one of the key figures of English Romanticism, alongside works which inspired the artist including Durer, Turner, John Ruskin, Seymour Haden and Francis Danby.
View installation photographs of the exhibition here.
Key works by 20th century printmakers who continued the pastoral tradition such as Frank Short, Paul Drury, Robin Tanner, John Piper, Graham Sutherland, Victor Pasmore are also included in this exhibition.
The lonely light that Samuel Palmer engraved, An image of mysterious wisdom won by toil.1
William Butler Yeats both admired and was attuned to Samuel Palmer’s etchings, in particular “The Lonely Tower”. It is easy to see why the poet mistook this quiet and compelling composition for an engraving. Samuel Palmer turned to the techniques of etching from mid-career and this medium not only lent a new creative impulse to his work and became Samuel Palmer’s favourite branch of art.
His thirteen etchings, with additional proofs and the four compositions completed after his death by his son A.H Palmer are on display on these walls, together for the first time.
Each etching is not the result of rapid or direct drawing from nature, but the accumulation of long and painstaking effort, experiment and recollected emotions. To both, father and son, the charm of etching was in “the glimmering through of the paper even in the shadows so that almost everything either sparkles or suggests sparkle”.
Etching seems to me to stand alone among the complete Arts. The great peculiarity of etching seems to be that its difficulties; an elegant mixture of the manual, chemical and calculative, so that its very mishaps and blunders (usually remediable) are a constant amusement, it raises and keeps alive a speculative curiosity, it has something of the excitement of gambling without its guilt and its ruin. 2
Curated by Anne Boddaert and Edward Twohig, from the Twohig collection.
Access and Participation programme
Thursday 3 April 5pm Inaugural tour of the exhibition by Edward Twohig. Tuesday 8 April 1pm Guided tour - part of the 2014 Cork Lifelong Learning Festival. Thursday 10 April 6pm Guided tour by Edward Twohig. Friday 11 April 1pm Lecture: Visible Poetry: The Etchings of Samuel Palmer - part of the Friends of the Crawford Art Gallery lecture series. Saturday 12 April 2pm Guided tour - part of the 2014 Lifelong Learning Festival. 1 From “The Phases of the Moon” in “The Wild Swans at Coole “, 1919 by W.B. Yeats
2 Samuel Palmer in a letter to Philip Gilbert Hamerton from Life & Letters, p.336-7
SUNSHINE AND SHADOW: Aspects of British Impressionism 1920–1950
Although the artists represented in this exhibition--most of whom lived and worked in England during the first half of the twentieth century--were not part of any formal group, they share a clear preference for traditional methods and modes of representation. Rather than following a Modernist approach of innovation and experimentation, they instead explored landscape and interiors from an academic perspective. To an extent these artists were insular, exhibiting mainly at the Royal Academy, the Fine Art Society and at other leading galleries in London, but they also reveal the considerable influence of Continental European art in Britain. Included in the exhibition is a notable precurser, Frank Bramley, whose beautifully-painted Domino!is representative of the Newlyn School that flourished in late nineteenth century Cornwall. All the paintings in this exhibition are from the permanent collection of the Crawford Art Gallery. For the most part they were acquired during the 1920's and 30's by the Gallery's Gibson Fund Committee. Chaired by Dermod O'Brien, President of the Royal Hibernian Academy, this committee had a preference for academic, non-controversial art. However, while not at the forefront of avant-garde movements, the artists they chose are united by their sensitivity to light and colour, and by a desire to represent subtle nuances of landscape and interiors. Their paintings evoke sun-dappled landscapes, sea and cloud, and winter snow. The influence of French Realism and Impressionism is particularly evident in the work of Alfred Munnings, Arnesby Brown, Algernon Talmage and Anne St. John Partridge, while a dash of Symbolism comes through in the strange and satriric painting The Throne of the Gods and This Strange World by William Otway McCannell. The Vegetarian Feast by H. Davis Richter is painterly and tends towards Expressionism, as does Frank Brangwyn's The Vineyard.
The landscapes in the exhibition include scenes in Cambridgeshire, Kent, Hampshire, Cornwall and the Hebrides, as well as further afield, such as The Abbadia, Orvieto, by Bertram Nicholls, Dieppe Market, by Alexander Jamieson, and the evocatively-titled Morning Haze, Concarneau by Terrick Williams. Henry Bishop's The Bedouinscaptures well the colours of the North African desert. Philip Wilson Steer, who painted Study for Nidderdale, lived in Walberswick, a village in Suffolk that is still today a haven for artists, but the Impressionist painting of Walberswick in this collection is by his contemporary, Ronald Ossory Dunlop. Like Norman Garstin, represented here by a view of historic Antwerp, Sunshine in the Beguinage, Dunlop was born in Ireland but spent most of his life working in England. Among the highlights in the collection are September Morning, the Fields and The Quiet Room by GeorgeClausen, and A Country Lane by Walter Westley Russell, works that are timeless and yet evoke the atmosphere of England in the early 1930's.
Overall the paintings speak of a short period in England--barely two decades--between engagement in two horrific and bloody world wars, a period of peace that people knew was not going to last. The artists in this exhibition perhaps sensed this, and in their efforts to record fleeting impressions of landscape, idyllic pastoral scenes and quiet interiors, they seem to have turned away from the city, from progress and from the Modern world. This collection of paintings, unique amongst Ireland's art museums, conveys an atmosphere of contemplation, peace and tranquility, making it something to treasure and enjoy.
THREE CENTURIES OF IRISH ART Crawford Art Gallery Collection
27 June–30 August 2014
Drawing on the significance and quality of the Crawford Art Gallery’s permanent collection, Three Centuries of Irish Art showcases the work of artists from the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries.
From the early architectural sketchbook of John Hogan (1800-58) to contemporary pieces by Hughie O’Donoghue (b.1953) and Elizabeth Magill (b.1959), this exhibition tells the story of the Crawford Art Gallery’s own collection as much as it does that of Irish art since 1800. Commencing with a spotlight on the output and impact of the Crawford School of Art during the nineteenth century, a series of themes emerge which range from the academic and figurative to more general concepts of memory and identity. As such, the exhibition at once offers an unconventional viewing experience and gives the viewer a unique opportunity to consider the development of a recognisable Irish ‘school’ of art.
In an essay from 1843, Thomas Davis called for a new focus in Irish art and for Irish artists to embrace national subjects. It is only through this, Davis felt, that a sense of national pride and national identity could truly be achieved. While not necessarily following Davis’ lead, in their own individual ways the artists represented in this exhibition meditate on Irish subjects through multiple genres, media, styles and viewpoints. Thus, works not typically displayed together are here presented as a cross-section of Irish art of the past three centuries.
Works by Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957), James Humbert Craig (1877-1944), and Gerard Dillon (1930-71), for instance, place the Irish landscape, labour and social rituals at the heart of their compositions, while Seán Keating (1889-1977) and Muriel Brandt (1909-81) are more specific in their meditations on the fight for Irish independence and its effects. The uncertainties of this revolutionary spirit are prophesied in a piece by William Orpen (1878-1931), while later works by Robert Ballagh (b.1943) and Brian Maguire (b.1951) consider the continued repercussions of violence and conflict on the island in similar universal terms. And while in Evergreen Memories Willie Doherty (b.1959) sums up the tension between national emblems and nationalist thought, Mainie Jellett (1897-1944) and Sean Scully (b.1945) embrace international stylistic approaches to challenge traditional modes of representation.
Encircling the early academic basis for Irish art, this exhibition highlights the nuance and diversity of approach generations of Irish artists have taken to their respective subjects, both familiar and unfamiliar, while also challenging accepted modes of representation. Three Centuries of Irish Art thus represents a form of cultural memory, not only through individual artistic works but collectively as a repository that procures for Ireland, as Davis might say, ‘a recognised National Art.’
DISTANT RELATIONS: PORTRAITURE AND GENRE PAINTING IN NINETEENTH CENTURY CORK
Until 25 August 2014
Drawn from the permanent collection of the Crawford Art Gallery, this exhibition contains portraits, genre scenes and religious paintings from nineteenth-century Cork, some of which have not been shown for many years due to their condition. A recent programme of restoration and conservation at the Crawford has now revealed the faces of forgotten Cork men and women, while also providing an insight into their social, emotional and spiritual world.
These paintings and sculptures are a key to understanding the Victorian Age, which was a time of dispute among moralists, scientists and artists for knowledge and power over the human figure. Industrialisation had changed the patterns of dependence on the rural economy, and rapid urbanisation had brought many people into an unforgiving world of factories and over-crowded housing. Rural life and traditions were encroached upon by the ‘Age of the Machine’, while moral and political questions relating to poverty, death, disease and inequality began to dominate social and political discourse.
Throughout Ireland, society was in turmoil. Emigration, the Land Wars, the Famine and an exodus from farming to urban life dominated the century. Artists, among them James Brenan, bore witness to a rural way of life rapidly vanishing before their eyes. In Letter from America and The Committee of Inspection, Brenan shows how literary and the desire to seek a better life was spreading, and how the livelihood of craftworkers were being eroded by factories. The paintings of Daniel MacDonald are also powerful windows into a fading rural society. A popular Cork artist, MacDonald depicted sporting events and merriment, but also the eviction of a family from their home, a constant threat that hung over many tenants in rural Ireland.
Changes in economic conditions were linked with scientific advances. Certainties about human evolution were eroded by geological discoveries which supported the theory that the world was many millions of years old. The authority of the Bible began to be questioned, and Darwin’s theory of natural selection and human evolution cast doubt on people's strongly-held belief in the veracity of the Old Testament. A spirit of enquiry meant that people were torn between systems of belief. Steamships and railways enabled people to travel more easily, while newspapers and journals assisted in spreading new, and often radical, ideas about society and politics.
In Cork, as in other cities, a new rising middle class, sought to distance itself from the libertarianism that had characterised aristocratic life in the eighteenth century. Growing in numbers and confidence, this confident middle class supported Realism in art and literature, and applauded depictions of modern life, but at the same time the Romantic movement provided an escape for those less impressed with railways and industrialisation. Moral regulation focused on the domestic ideal. Women were expected to behave according to a lady-like ideal and be the ‘angel of the house’, figures of probity, goodness and civic responsibility. Men were equally expected to be model citizens, sober, hardworking and virtuous. The reality of course was often quite different. People everywhere were either benefitting from, or becoming victims to, economic change. Some prospered, while others were left behind. The genius of the Victorian age resided in its ability to promote the idea that people were the sole cause of their own misfortune, and so when famine struck, government intervention was slow, or non-existent.
But there were many enlightened people, particularly in the area of art and education, who understood the underlying economic factors that drove people into poverty. Headmaster at the Cork School of Art for many years, James Brenan was at the forefront of developing lace-making as a craft that could be practiced by women both in rural and urban homes. The income derived from this work became a mainstay for many families that might otherwise have endured extreme deprivation. Lace-making also freed women from dependence on the income of their husbands. Women were proud of their achievement, and portraits frequently highlight lace-work, the fanciful decorative embellishment of costume that was in other respects restrained and non-showy.
Representation in portraiture, as in the work of James Butler Brennan (a prolific Cork portrait painter, not to be confused with James Brenan), reflects this ideal, one that left little room for the individual. Both men and women were restricted by gender, class and clothing. Woman in particular became the ideological construct of a largely patriarchal society, and were expected to display gravitas and restraint. This conditioning began in childhood, as is vividly reflected in the Portrait of Mabel Arnold by Jenny Ashton Hackett, who had studied at the Cork School of Art. The young girl, wearing an elaborate dress, holds sprigs of lilac and laburnum flowers. Lilac symbolises early love, while the latter symbolised danger. The painting is in fact a coded narrative that would have been understood instantly by an audience in Victorian times. The sensual and emotional instincts that lay beneath these restrained cultural symbols and metaphors provided a justification for the gendered separation of public and private spheres, and a warning against the abandonment of social and moral order. In contrast, basic feelings and instincts are vividly expressed in religious paintings of the time. Episodes in the Old and New Testaments provided an opportunity for artists to depict the widest range of human emotion, ranging from ecstasy and enthrallment, to passion and despair. Tears abound in these paintings; the grief of women over the suffering and death of Christ, serve both as a focus of religious belief but also as a means of expressing feeling, in a society where such displays were generally frowned upon.
While the identity of Mabel Arnott has been recorded, the names of many depicted in the portraits in Distant Relations have been lost. During their lifetimes, when these paintings had pride of place in the dining rooms and hallways of family homes, there was certainty in the belief that the world would always remember their names and their identities. The reality however is that in most cases, not even a pencilled inscription on the back of the frame preserves the names of these men and women of Cork, and their hopes, dreams and ambitions, as well as their disappointments and bereavements, can only be guessed at.
Read an online review of Distant Relations by Maureen Considine here.
The Land of Zero
Exhibition: Friday 21 November–Wednesday 17 December 2014 Seminar: Friday 21 November–Saturday 22 November
"I came across the phrase The Land of Zero in a documentary on the Shakers. The phrase allowed me to connect a group of ideas that I was gathering at the time: intangible moments which temper rational direction; the importance of creating intellectual flexibility around visual art practice; the changing context of visual art practice; the sustaining value of personal networks. Not a culture of definable outcomes, it welcomes the unintended consequence.The volume of air that inhabits the upper gallery of the CAG will be hung with some 4 – 5 high – tension cables onto which will be placed light responsive plastic. Welded into long sheets they will inhabit the space in advance of The Land of Zero. They will begin an atmosphere by themselves, simply a gesture in advance of the activity that will follow.
A two-day Seminar will be placed in a parting of that space by these hangings, they will ultimately be removed to facilitate the developing exhibition. Perhaps a remnant may survive the emergent show”
Crawford Art Gallery presents a major solo exhibition of Mark Clare. I Believe In You offers new insights into the work of Mark Clare, who, in his role as a creative public agent, seeks to engage with and highlight unresolved incongruities within our societies, placing scrutiny on the combative issues of globalization, individualism and public space.
The exhibition takes its title from one of three works created specifically for the Crawford Art Gallery, and features a number of key works from the last five years of Mark Clare's practice. The large-scale installation I Believe in You, designed to follow the gallery's high arched ceiling, explores notions of society's perceived disaffection with political engagement, and our complex relationships with public institutions.
Mark Clare’s necessity to make, to construct and to create a dialectic framework to reflect upon structures or scenes that make us think about how social space is organised, is a sustained feature of Clare’s practice. Clare uses his mobile, multiple forms of art to assist in imagining how our expectations of public space — whether as physical location or as an idea of collective belonging — might also be freed from present orthodoxies and hierarchies, just as they also become newly informed by under-acknowledged histories. He is not so much a detractor of ideologies but a commentator on its fallibility - illustrated in the video Quickness (2014) which alludes to the anxiety of projected failure in an attempt to capture society's fraught relationship with speed that is endemic.
Similarly, MonoCulture (2014), an ambitious modular sculpture/installation structured in the form of interconnected commercial beehives, emphasises our ecological vulnerability. The current decline of bees within the environment becomes a symbol for the larger picture environmentally, politically and socially. In reference to both environmental ethics and environmental justice, Kant once stated that “the greater or lesser social interactions among the nations of the earth, which have been constantly increasing everywhere, have now spread so far that a violation of rights in one part of the earth is felt everywhere.” This is reflected in the Kyoto protocol* and the international trading of emissions. Such forms of collective bargaining by nations on the future are issues that are pervasive throughout Clare’s practice**.
Mark Clare's work is habitually layered with intersecting micro and macro perspectives. In agitating the viewer’s social conscience, Clare deftly diffuses and heightens these tensions with humour and spectacle yet the work is also subtle and nuanced, offering the viewer pathways to reflect and engage in scrutinizing cultural misnomers.
The exhibition Mark Clare: I Believe in You is made possible with the generous support of the National Sculpture Factory, and Guesthouse, Cork.