What do you do at crawford art gallery? I work as a tour guide and as a Social Media & Marketing executive.
What is your experience/qualifications? I have a Degree in English, a Higher Diploma in History of Art and an MA in Global Gallery Studies, all from University College Cork!
Why do you enjoy being a tour guide? I enjoy being a tour guide because I get to meet such diverse people on my tours who are interested in so many different elements of the National Collection in Crawford, whether it be the style, the history behind the work or a personal connection. On many occasions I have stayed back just to chat to the visitors!
Do you have a favourite artwork, exhibition or gallery space? It’s difficult to choose just one work or exhibition from the Collection. My go to is usually St. Brendan and the Unhappy Judas by Harry Clarke as I gave one of my first presentations in UCC on the work. I also love Men of the South by Sean Keating as I remember my dad loving it and having an A4 print of it when I was a child, so to see it in person in the Gallery at the size it is was a shock! The Widow and Sketch for the Funeral of Terence MacSwiney, Lord Mayor of Cork 1920 by John Lavery are also favourites of mine due to their historical connection with Cork.
What are your special interests or something you always discuss on tours? The context of the works to the history of Cork and Ireland are two interests I often bring up on my tours. I also love stained glass, so I’ll usually show our stained-glass pieces on tours if I can!
Do you have any fun memories of tours to share? Perhaps a celebrity or a funny question you were asked? I always enjoy having past pupils of the arts school on my tours as I love hearing old stories about the building and classes. I had Ireland’s first male ballet dancer Roy Galvin on a tour recently, and he had fantastic imagery which we showed me of his time while studying in the art school!
What do you do at Crawford Art Gallery? Tour Guide and Arts Workshop Facilitator and I created Learn and Explore content for teens and young adults.
What is your experience/qualifications? Masters in Education (Art & Design), Ba Fine Arts (Printmaking). I lecture and am the Course Co-ordinator of the main Arts & Engagement and the Certificate in Arts and Wellbeing in Crawford College of Art & Design.
Why do you enjoy being a tour guide? I love seeing the ‘eureka’ moment when a visitor makes a connection to an artwork, particularly when it’s their first visit to a gallery. A tour helps us unravel cultural plot twists and forms reflections on our society’s past and present. I really enjoy the scope of the collection and the different ways we can frame a tour, depending on the audience. As a guide, I am often amazed by the power of art as a shared language in its scope to connect and inspire the diverse range of people who visit the gallery.
What are your special interests or something you always discuss on tours? As the gallery holds a large part of the National Collection, i often bring this to the attention of visitors - that the artwork is a shared resource that we all have a right to enjoy. As it is often the first-time visitors have been in the building, it’s important for people to not only feel welcome, but to acknowledge that as a Municipal Gallery, it is a shared space where they will be welcomed every time they visit.
Is there anything you’d Like to say about working at Crawford Art Gallery that hasn’t been covered here? As much as there are artworks that capture Cork’s cultural history, the team in the gallery ensure that the programme of exhibitions changes to reflect contemporary aspects of our society. It’s so good to work in a place that is always changing, thought provoking and deeply cares about communicating in a considered manner.
Where are you from?: I was born and raised in Cork, where I currently live in the city along the bank of the River Lee.
What do you do at crawford art gallery? I lead tours of the collection for a variety of different groups—school, public, corporate, and so on—and contribute an art historical theme to public and private events held in the gallery. My job centres on direct contact with art works, so I use this opportunity to highlight to others the many layers of meaning instilled by artists in their work, from broadest subject to the smallest details of the brush or chisel.
What is your experience/qualifications? I hold a BA and Master’s degree in Art History, and I am currently studying for a PhD in Art History which I aim to complete in spring 2023. My research since my degree has centred on the Italian Renaissance. For my PhD, I am working primarily on Tuscan art of the late medieval and Renaissance period with an emphasis on sculpture. I explore questions surrounding the religious, social, and political context in which works were made and examine how the two periods related to each other through style and cultural memory. I have lectured in Art History in University College Cork since 2014 and am Programme Coordinator of the Diploma in European Art History in UCC’s Adult Continuing Education department. I also work in cultural tourism and greatly enjoy leading tours of beautiful art and heritage sites internationally.
WHY DO YOU ENJOY BEING A TOUR GUIDE? My work in Crawford revolves around people so it is always new and challenging. The Crawford collection is wonderfully diverse, so there is always an opportunity to isolate specific themes and use the art works to weave together stories about the collection, the artists, and the history of the art works. I really enjoy the interesting dialogue with visitors which is such a frequent aspect of the role. Everyone’s cultural background is different, which means that each visitor sees something unique in the works, and I love to bring out these perspectives through discussion. There are so many other things about the role I love—too many to list here—but being frequently surrounded by art and being able to speak about it in front of the works themselves is truly a gift.
Do you have a favourite artwork, exhibition or gallery space? Well, I speak about my favourite work in the collection in the video accompanying this post so I’ll say no more about it! However, I really enjoy the Gibson Galleries as a space. The rooms are named after Joseph Stafford Gibson (1837-1919) who, upon his death, bequeathed a massive collection of objects and art, along with a very sizeable sum of money, to the Crawford Gallery, enabling the expansion of the permanent collection. I have seen so many diverse things done with these historic rooms, and every new exhibition is always a treat. The space is relatively small which creates a real sense of intimacy with the works in terms of how they are seen by visitors but also how they relate to eachother. The annual Zurich Portrait Prize is always a rich experience in the Gibson Galleries, and, at present, the historically important exhibition ‘As They Must Have Been’ (30 July – 25 September) curated by Dr. Michael Waldron is an absolute wonder. There really is so much history in those rooms!
What are you special interests or something you always discuss on tours? Most of my tours will encompass the Canova Casts in the Sculpture Gallery on the ground floor. I have a personal affinity with sculpture so I love to show the Casts and the gorgeous space off. However, they also tell such a fascinating story about the history of the Crawford Gallery and School, the collection, and the history of Cork’s visual culture that I feel they really set the scene for the rest of the collection.
Do you have any fun memories of tours to share? Perhaps a celebrity or a funny question you were asked? I have lots of great memories from working in the Crawford. I recently gave a private tour to Mr. Joe Duffy from RTÉ who was a wonderfully engaging and interested visitor, and I very much enjoyed hearing his take on our exhibition ‘Rembrandt in Print’ (17 September 2021 – 9 January 2022; a virtual tour of the exhibition can be found at this link: https://crawfordartgallery.ie/rembrandt-virtual-tour/). I’ll also never forget my first tour – after spending days reading up on the collection and planning my tour route to make sure it all went well, I woke up that morning to find a rare phenomenon in Ireland: I was snowed in! I lived outside the city at the time so had to ring my colleague in a panic to cover me (thank you, Mike!)
Where are you from? Born in Edinburgh, grew up in West Cork
What do you do at Crawford Art Gallery? Tours, workshops and special interactions with all kinds of groups. Including online classes with cork migrant centre and the annual animation summer camps for children
What is your experience/qualifications? MA Fine Art – practising artist, teaching artist
Why do you enjoy being a tour guide? Art gives us other lenses to percieve the world i enjoy sharing the experience with others
Do you have a favourite artwork, exhibition or gallery space? I love the gallery as a living being, recurring visits to its spaces and artworks is part of an evolving relationship, different at different times in different kinds of weather, i love the coloured light cast by Lonradh over the polished wooden stairs and the strange form of the Gibson Cabinet, its presence at the heart of the building. The Long Room with its Scrivenor’s past presenting an ever changing face from the collection, The Blue Lagoon of the Sculpture Gallery, the excitement and radical changes in the modern galleries with their unbalancing staircase leading on up to the open space above. I love the empty chamber of the turret and the curved wall of the top floor from the Harry Clarke Room past the soft inviting darkness of the viewing room on one side and the view to the bustling street on the other, i love the hidden sanctuary of the Library and the big tree space of the garden with its narrow wrought iron gate…
What are you special interests or something you always discuss on tours? How art presents an encounter between our own living body and another kind of body each with its own history, agency and character.
Do you have any fun memories of tours to share? Perhaps a celebrity or a funny question you were asked? On posing the question “what are we looking at?” In front of John Burke’s “Untitled” in the garden, its form birdlike from an adult’s point of view, from a child provoked the response “a trap”.
Is there anything you’d like to say about working at Crawford Art Gallery that hasn’t been covered here? Feel free to share your comments or suggestions for questions here. I am struck by the fondness the people of cork have for the gallery and i feel privileged to be a sometime contributor and visitor to it.
Staff Profiles: Grace O'Mahony
Name: Grace O'Mahony
Role: Finance Manager
Where are you from? Douglas Road, Cork
What do you do at Crawford Art Gallery? Along with my colleagues Catherine and Colette, I look after the finances of the Gallery from initial budget preparation through to managing expenditure, forecasting and reporting on finances to the budget holders, funders, management and the board. In the Finance department, we also look after all the day-to-day business of paying the wages, processing and paying supplier invoices on a weekly basis, managing the Gallery bank account, drawing down of funding and all the reporting and compliance issues that go with these functions.
Briefly describe your typical working day. I check my email first to see what’s new in and what meetings and appointments are in the calendar for the day. There might be some preparation work to be done for meetings during the day, or reports to be prepared. Then there is the day-to-day work on payments, payroll, preparation of accounts and reports. We are heading into a very busy period in Quarter 1 this year, with our year-end and both internal and external audits scheduled, so there’s lots of preparation work to be done for these.
What do you like the most about working at Crawford Art Gallery? I am very lucky to have such good colleagues and I’m really impressed by the dedication and friendliness of all of my colleagues so far. For me, it is a really refreshing experience to work alongside people like this and it makes the Crawford such a positive, inclusive and welcoming work environment. I love the building – from the moment of walking in the front door the impression is one of friendliness, warmth and welcome. The building itself is also a very beautiful place to work – from the staircase to the First Floor with all the fabulous artwork displayed on the way up, including the ‘Lonradh', stained glass window to all the artwork displayed in the galleries and hallways. The collection on display is always interesting and diverse and in addition to this, the series of temporary exhibitions and programmes add even more texture and interest to the permanent collection of artworks. I love the buzz of energy when the gallery is busy, especially with the school tours – it is great to see school groups taking an interest in the artworks and getting an opportunity to explore the diverse collection…and perhaps even gain inspiration from their visit.
Do you have a favourite artwork, exhibition or gallery space? I don’t really have a favourite as there are simply too many beautiful artworks, objects and spaces to choose. I do walk through the Long Room on Floor 1 everyday, as it’s en route to my office space, and I love the current Menagerie exhibition. I also love John Lavery’s ‘The Red Rose’ at the top of the stairs on the landing – it is exquisite. The current exhibitions Rembrandt in Print and REMAINS – Brian Maguire are really interesting and thought provoking. The Library is also a great space when I get the chance to be in there. It’s almost like you have transported back in time with the book-lined walls, long reading table, old lamps and the beautifully panelled ceiling. With the windows open, it is an experience being in this old and beautiful space and yet hearing all the modern city noises drifting up from just below the window.
Do you remember the first time you visited the gallery? It was several years ago when I came in to do a tour with members of my family, followed by a lovely lunch and coffee in the Café. It was an enjoyable day out and I have very fond memories of this. I remember going away feeling very impressed with the Gallery and wanting to go back very soon for another visit to see more. Little did I think I would be working here several years later.
What do you think people might be surprised to learn about the gallery? The amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to make the Gallery a fantastic visitor experience at every level, from security, cleaning, health and safety, building maintenance, through to curators and management: it is a truly amazing effort from the Crawford team on an ongoing basis.
What do you do at Crawford Art Gallery? I work as a Curator of exhibitions. Essentially, researching artists’ work that may have common ideas with other artists’ work, and creating exhibitions which offer new contexts and experiences of the artwork which hopefully may inform and inspire our audiences in a meaningful way.
Briefly describe your typical working day. Exhibition ideas often form through conversation with artists and colleagues and can germinate for three to four years before they are presented in the gallery’s exhibition spaces (for example, the recent Doug Fishbone: Please Gamble Responsibly show was four years in the making, from the initial contact and invitation to the artist to its realisation in March 2021). After the initial research, which involves visiting exhibitions and researching artists’ work, there are numerous studio visits, meetings, phone calls and emails with artists, production suppliers, technicians and lots and lots of problem-solving.
Once the concept and artworks have been decided (or we have commissioned an artist to create new work), I work with the artists and the formidable team in the Crawford Art Gallery to realise the exhibition. This involves working with Jean O’Donovan, Registrar who looks after art transport and insurance, to Dyane Hanrahan who heads the Marketing department organising the publicity and social media and to Anne Boddaert in Learn & Explore who, with her team, mediate the exhibition’s themes and artwork to our wide and engaging audiences. One day is never the same as another – apart from the coffee intake!
What do you like the most about working at Crawford Art Gallery? The people – both the team here at the Gallery but also the privilege of meeting and having conversations with artists, colleagues from art institutions across the island and beyond, and the public and communities who give their time, ideas and enthusiasm. So often I come away from conversations with colleagues and the public learning more about art, society and sometimes myself.
Do you have a favourite artwork, exhibition or gallery space? I really like the screening room on the second floor. It is a small, safe and welcoming, intimate space where you can have one on one encounters with artists’ film work from around the globe (as part of the Artists’ Film Internationalpartnership lead by Whitechapel Art Gallery, London) to get insights what other people are seeing or thinking.
Do you remember the first time you visited the gallery? The first time I visited the gallery was in 1993/4 when I was hitch-hiking across Ireland with my friend Bo. I remember walking in the second floor galleries and I have a vague memory of a James Turrell installation. I would never have guessed then that I would be working at the gallery years later!
What do you think people might be surprised to learn about the gallery? The balance of risk and belief is pivotal to exhibition making in the Crawford Art Gallery, which mirrors the decisions we make in our day-to-day lives.
SATURATION: the everyday transformed, curated by William Laffan and Dawn Williams, will run from 29 January until 8 May 2022 and will focus on photography of contemporary life at the intersection of the quotidian, or everyday and the fantastic or even surreal. Learn more about this exhibition here.
Staff Profiles: Kathryn Coughlan
Name: Kathryn Coughlan
Where are you from? Limerick
What do you do at Crawford Art Gallery? My background is in collection management, documentation and art logistics. I started working with the gallery as an intern in 2014, and I have been lucky to work on many projects here over the years. At the moment I am managing a number of library, archive and collection documentation projects to help get the Gallery ready for our redevelopment in a few years’ time. We are hoping to get these non-artwork collections catalogued and quantified so they can be safely packed and moved if needed. It's been really interesting to spend so much time with books and documents which give such insight into the gallery and the school of art before that.
What do you like the most about working at Crawford Art Gallery? The people - both those I work with and the members of the public. Everyone here cares so much about exhibiting the artworks in an engaging and meaningful way. The team here works hard to support artists and to provide a valuable offering to the public. The Learn & Explore team in particular put so much care into a programme that supports the communities of Cork in many different ways.
Walking through the gallery during a workday in the office and seeing people examining and responding to the works on the wall, particularly in exhibitions I've helped install or curate, is a joyous experience.
Do you have a favourite artwork, exhibition or gallery space? I love the Upper Gallery, it's a great space to just stop in for a moment no matter what's in there. I remember invigilating there years ago and you would see small children run into the space and shout - they would stop, slightly amazed by the acoustics of the room, while a worried parent shushed them and glanced over at me with a worried look. But I think galleries are spaces to experience, not revere, so I always loved to see those little people exploring sound and space.
It's impossible to choose a favourite artwork, but in my top 10 is The Captive by Wilfrid G. De Glehn (currently on exhibition on the landing before you enter the current exhibition MENAGERIE: Animals by Artists). It's a bit of a marmite artwork and I fought a little bit to have it included. There's a slight unease to the image and the title which I find really intriguing.
What do you think people might be surprised to learn about the gallery? I think they would be very surprised at all the work that happens in the background to make our Exhibitions and Learn & Explore programmes a reality. The Gallery always seems quite serene when you visit to see an exhibition, but there's a veritable hive of activity behind those staff doors. We programme loan-in exhibitions a few years in advance as there is so much to organise before the artworks can go on the walls or the workshops can start for visitors. Even with our own collection, it takes months to plan and prepare those shows before they can finally be installed.
Did you know? Although it is not currently open to the public, you can view the library, whose collection Kathryn is helping to organise and archive, using our Virtual Tour tool. Happy virtual exploring!
Staff Profiles: Ellen Whelan
Name: Ellen Whelan Where are you from? Douglas, Cork.
What do you do at Crawford Art Gallery? I have recently joined the gallery as an assistant to the Learn & Explore team which is responsible for the gallery’s educational programmes, events and resources.
Briefly describe your typical working day Luckily for me, working in the Learn & Explore department means my days are wonderfully varied as there is always a new project or event to get stuck into! My day can range from filming new videos for the Lonradh programme to creating an activity pack for kids. With Covid-19 restrictions easing and it being back to school time, at the moment a lot of my day is spent assisting with the organisation of School Tours. Mainly, I try to support my exceptional department heads Anne Boddaert andEmma Klemencic where I can!
What do you like the most about working at Crawford Art Gallery? I’ve worked in arts administration before but this is my first time working in an art gallery and I love that there is something for every visitor of the gallery. The entire team puts in a huge amount of effort and hard work to ensure the gallery is as exciting and accessible for every person who visits, be it in person or online.
Do you have a favourite artwork, exhibition or gallery space? Currently my favourite artwork is Brian Maguire’s recently acquired ‘Arizona 3’ which is part of his solo exhibition REMAINShere in the gallery. It deals with the loss of life by many unidentified Central American migrants crossing the Sonora desert. For me this piece forces viewers to confront the realities of the migrant crisis and provokes desperately needed conversations about it.
Images: Row 1 (L-R): Angela Burchill, Marie, pencil & coloured pencil on board, 30 x 30 cm. Courtesy of the Artist. Angela Burchill, Katie, pencil & coloured pencil on board, 30 x 30 cm. Courtesy of the Artist. Angela Burchill, Rosaleen, pencil & coloured pencil on board, 30 x 30 cm. Courtesy of the Artist. Row 2 (L-R): Angela Burchill, John Whelan, pencil & coloured pencil on board, 30 x 30 cm. Courtesy of the Artist. Angela Burchill, Íde, pencil & coloured pencil on board, 30 x 30 cm. Courtesy of the Artist. Angela Burchill, Ailbhe, pencil & coloured pencil on board, 30 x 30 cm. Courtesy of the Artist. Row 3 (L-R): Angela Burchill, John K, pencil & coloured pencil on board, 30 x 30 cm. Courtesy of the Artist. Angela Burchill, Eoin, pencil & coloured pencil on board, 30 x 30 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.
Another favourite of mine is the work of Angela Burchill, which was also recently acquired by the gallery and added to the National Collection. Angela’s highly detailed portraits are so joyful to look at, as they are so full of warmth and love for her subjects. Angela is a member of the Crawford Supported Studio, a programme that advocates for sixteen Cork-based artists living with disabilities. You can read more about the Crawford Supported Studio here.
Staff Profiles: Cillian Lynch
Name Cillian Lynch
Where are you from? Glounthaune
About your work
What do you do at Crawford Art Gallery? I work as an invigilator, greeting and helping our visitors. I also welcome people to the gallery and record their contact tracing details when they arrive at the gallery.
Briefly describe your typical working day I would usually start working at 10 and welcome the early visitors into the gallery until 12:30. A quick coffee break and I'm back to talking to visitors and taking contact tracing details until 4:45 when I begin helping the security team and other invigilators with closing the gallery.
What do you like the most about working at Crawford Art Gallery? What I like most is the variety the gallery provides. When a new exhibition is introduced it transforms an entire floor of the building into a totally different space and this is brilliant for me because there is always new art to understand and appreciate and I'm working in a dynamic environment.
Do you have a favourite artwork, exhibition or gallery space? My favourite exhibition currently is Laura Fitzgerald: I have made a place. Laura's work has many different features but her short film is hilarious and pokes a bit of fun at Irish artists including herself.
Do you remember the first time you visited the gallery? Not particularly because I was probably about 5 years old! What I do remember is laughing at the sculpture gallery quite a bit. My sense of humour has matured a bit since then I hope.
What do you think people might be surprised to learn about the gallery? I think people are surprised that there are constantly new additions and acquisitions in the gallery. Many visitors seem surprised when I tell them there are multiple brand new exhibitions in the gallery at one time.
Is there anything you’d like to say about working at Crawford Art Gallery that hasn’t been covered here? I've already over-shared as it is!
Staff Profiles: Kayleigh Milner
Name Kayleigh Milner
Where are you from? Cork, Ireland
What do you do at Crawford Art Gallery? I recently joined the team as the Gallery’s Marketing & Communications executive.
Briefly describe your typical working day There is constant change and innovation taking place during my day-to-day schedule: my most recent task was to prepare press releases and press contacts.
I liaise with the Communications team on social media posts and keep the virtual tour up-to-date.
I also assist with promotional activities and help to organise market research: this usually entails compiling reports, brochures and similar documents.
What do you like most about working at Crawford Art Gallery? Not only is art and culture a core reason, but I am fortunate enough to be a part of a team with an abundance of expertise. I love working in such a dynamic job. You never know what you will have the opportunity to see or who you will be working with, but one guarantee is that it will always interesting.
Do you have a favourite artwork, exhibition or gallery space? This is an arduous task every room has an irresistible treasure!
I have a particular fondness for Louis le Brocquy’s Image of Samuel Beckett. I studied History of Art at University College Cork and as a part of one module, we were asked to present an artwork to our peers and I chose Le Brocquy’s piece. I remember seeing the work hanging in the foyer and I was immediately taken by that hauntingly suspended head; the brushwork and colours are spectre-like. Le Brocquy encompassed Beckett’s human spirit from cultural memory and he called this ephemeral moment ‘an archaeology of the spirit.’
My most recent favourite is Stephen Doyle’s Meditating Tongqui. This newly acquired work can be seen in the current exhibition New Threads: Acquisitions 2021. For me this piece marks Crawford Art Gallery’s celebration of inclusion: the artwork is a part of the new LGBTQ+ gallery trail .
Do you remember the first time you visited the gallery? I remember visiting as a young child. I suppose the gallery was a crucial place that nourished my love of art and led me to study History of Art at university. As a child, James Scanlon’s Lonradhis imprinted in my mind as something very magical. This reminds me of why the gallery’s inclusion of children is so valued. We offer a window of shared experiences and complexity and this plays a key role in the growth of imagination and creativity in children.
Staff Profiles: Matthew Whyte
Name Matthew Whyte
Where are you from? I was born and raised in Cork, where I currently live along the banks of the River Lee.
What do you do at Crawford Art Gallery? I work as a Facilitator in the Crawford Art Gallery.
Briefly describe your typical working day My work in the Crawford revolves around people so it is always new and challenging. I lead tours of the collection for a variety of different groups—schools, corporate groups, and so on—and contribute an art historical theme to public and private events held in the gallery. The Crawford collection is wonderfully diverse, so there is always an opportunity to isolate specific themes and use the artworks to weave together stories about the collection, the artists, and the history of the artworks. My job centres on direct contact with artworks, so I use this opportunity to highlight to others the many layers of meaning instilled by artists in their work, from the broadest subject to the smallest details of the brush or chisel. In my other work, my days revolve around researching Italian Renaissance sculpture and lecturing in Art History at University College Cork.
What do you like the most about working at Crawford Art Gallery? It's so hard to pinpoint one thing! I suppose the diversity is something that really stands out. Every visitor to the Crawford I encounter brings something new to the space.
I enjoy the discussions that take place in front of the works; a fascinating question or a small detail of information can cast a work in a new light. The variety in the collection also contributes to this diversity, and it is wonderful to move from one century to another, across a variety of media, and see how different people respond. Individual taste makes this such an interesting activity, and I really enjoy seeing the contemporary art enthusiasts become engrossed in the story of an antique sculpture! Being able to work directly with art objects is also wonderful, especially in the context of education. There is something so alive about an artwork when it’s experienced in the flesh.
Do you have a favourite artwork, exhibition or gallery space? I have always been particularly drawn to sculpture: my everyday life revolves around looking closely at sculptures! My favourite artwork in the collection is Cupid and Psyche by Edward Ambrose (1840). It's a small piece, showing a moment from Ovid's Metamorphoses in which Psyche, having sneaked into Cupid's bedchamber, first catches a glimpse of her beloved before dripping wax on his shoulder, causing him to awake and disappear. The small size makes the piece very accessible and invites close inspection. I always marvel at how sculptors achieve such a sense of warmth using cold, white marble; the transition from the rough base to the smooth flesh gives the two protagonists a living presence. While sometimes large-scale sculptures can appear quite grand and remote, there is something very sweet and familiar about the little faces of Cupid and Psyche. The innocent dreaminess of Cupid, the wonder in Psyche's expression, the way the wax candle hovers above, forgotten as she moves her face inexorably closer to Cupid's—these features are all so real and relatable for the viewer. You can have a closer look at the sculpture in 3D here.
Do you remember the first time you visited the gallery? I don't remember the first time I ever visited, but I remember my first visit after having begun to study art history. I have a memory of seeing the Canova Casts and being immediately struck by these sculptures that are at the very beginning of Western art. I remember wondering how and when these came to be in Cork. Another experience that stands out for me is visiting Dr. Michael Waldron's wonderful exhibition Samuel Forde: Visions of Tragedy as part of a research project on exhibition display. Forde's Fall of the Rebel Angelscaptivated me then and still manages to command the room with its dark colours and stormy movement!
What do you think people might be surprised to learn about the gallery? I think that the change in function and land use associated with the gallery is a source of surprise for people who were not aware of the building's history. Seeing the building as the old Customs House in John Butt's 1750 View of Cork from Audley Place helps visitors to place the Crawford within the context of Cork's maritime history.
Watch Matthew explain how our historic Canova casts came from Pope to Prince to the Port of Cork in the video series ‘Sculpture Stories’ here.
Staff Profiles: Michelle Whelan
Where are you from?
I’m from Cork, the county with that magnetic ability to pull you back no matter where you’ve lived!
What do you do? I am an administrator for the Friends of Crawford Art Gallery. I work closely with my colleague, Bernadette, and between us we keep the Friends up to date on what’s happening in the art scene here at Crawford Art Gallery and elsewhere in Cork.
To explain what I do I suppose it would be prudent to firstly tell you who the Friends are. They are an amazingly diverse open-minded group of people who support the arts in the Cork community and in particular in the Crawford Art Gallery. They first came together over thirty years ago and have helped to keep the arts alive in Cork through donating artworks and helping to support the Gallery in all its artistic endeavours.
My role as an administrator is quite a varied one – from managing the everyday operations under the guidance of the Board of the Friends to event management!
What does your everyday look like? My day is very different depending on the time of year and the Friends events that are underway, but one thing’s for sure: once I put my hand on that bevelled glass front door and walk in, the magic begins.
My day starts as all good days should, with a cup of Barry’s tea in hand while planning the week’s programme with Bernadette. Then we deal with daily tasks, ranging from processing membership enquiries and carrying out banking tasks, to supporting the Board in the acquisition of artworks.
Many hours can be spent researching an upcoming exhibition or artist and finding new ways of bringing this to the Friends through our weekly newsletters. It always sees me coming across a new story in art that I never knew existed and making new connections.
Spring and Autumn days are filled with organising lectures and welcoming the public into our wonderful Lecture Theatre, where when the lights are dimmed and stories are shared the hustle and bustle of the city streets outside is left behind and you enter another world.
Part of my day will be spent chatting with existing and new members and liaising with curators, artists and art historians to organise talks and tours both nationally and internationally!
And then there’s our new venture, CorkAbout! These are our video escapades, where we take to the streets of Cork while Bernadette dons her “Francis Ford Coppola” hat and films what’s been there under our noses all along from a fresh perspective. And to think CorkAbout! was born out of a global pandemic! As I’m sure Elizabeth Bowen would have agreed, lucid times call for lucid measures. In a nutshell, it’s our way of bringing artworks and artists work into our members’ homes when they can’t venture out.
Do you have a favourite artwork/gallery space/exhibition? I have a favourite of all those things!
From the moment I came upon it hanging in our Gibson Galleries it drew me in – I was pulled into its quiet intimacy. Although it has its own story to tell it resonated with me in a completely unexpected way. It’s in the curl of the fingers of his upward-facing, open palm and the red translucent glow of his ear tip that I was transported back to my teenage years. And the memory of coming home so exhausted from school that you stretch out cat-like onto the floor, under the window, with the warmth of the late evening sun warming your open palm and the gaps between your fingers glow red, almost translucent, just like his ear tip. That quiet, still intimacy of just existing in that moment connected me with the subject in Orpen’s painting.
My favourite gallery space probably isn’t technically a gallery space at all, but very much the hub of the gallery.
It’s what I like to think of as the ‘Poker Room’, a tiny windowless room with a Formica-topped table, three chairs huddled around, the feel of cards being dealt and a nostalgic hint of cigar smoke and furniture polish from days long gone by still lingering in the air. In reality it’s actually a tearoom – but like all spaces in the Gallery, there’s the sense that anything is possible!
My favourite exhibition was Stones, Slabs and Seascapes: George Victor du Noyer’s Images of Ireland. It was curated in 2017 by Peter Murray with Petra Coffey and was my first exposure to Du Noyer’s work – it will stay with me for a long time to come. What a gift to be able to view those wonderfully detailed tiny sketchbooks of George Victor Du Noyer! His incredible archive of line drawings and watercolours documenting all sorts of plants, animals, and geological features observed on his journey through many counties of Ireland by foot, no matter what the weather. With the slightest line of his pencil or dab of his brush, he brought character and life into the everyday.
What might people not know about the Crawford? To expect the unexpected! No matter how much money you have in your pocket or how much knowledge you have in your head it never fails to deliver a unique experience for everyone who steps inside its doors, eliciting all sorts of emotions, firing up your synapses and leaving you with a sense of wonder, curiosity, and of wanting to know more.
Interested in learning more about the Friends of Crawford Art Gallery and how to become one? Click here for further details.
Staff Profiles: Emma Klemencic
Name: Emma Klemencic
Where are you from? I am a pure blow-in! When people ask me where I am from, I never feel quite sure. I was born in London. My second name comes from my Slovenian Dad. People find it hard to place me, which I have grown to quite enjoy.
What do you do at Crawford Art Gallery? I lead the Learn & Explore programme at Crawford Art Gallery together with a senior curator named Anne Boddaert. Basically, this is the gallery’s education and access programme which we deliver collaboratively with artists, community groups and partnership organisations.
Briefly describe your typical working day. The Learn & Explore programme is diverse; it really needs to be, because our audiences are wonderfully diverse!
As it is for most people working in the arts, a typical day is often a juggling act. You may find me making tea for a dementia-friendly art group, shepherding excited children on school tours, frantically sharpening pencils, designing learning resources or meeting with artists. I genuinely get a real kick out of creating points of connection for all kinds of people to access the gallery. This makes my work feel worthwhile and for me, it's the gold. I am lucky to work with Anne, a very experienced curator (also a blow-in!) who shares these values, as well as Alice O’Donoghue, a programme assistant who is terribly bright and adept at juggling! The exhibitions and programmes that the Crawford Art Gallery presents are very much a collaborative effort. This makes my job more challenging, but (most days!) it feels worth it, on a personal level.
Right now, I am really lucky to be able to work remotely, with a teenage daughter who tolerates me. It is a strange and tough time, and there is a sense of loss. My focus is on listening and responding as best I can. I hope to support programmes that are genuinely useful and responsive to artists and local communities.
Some of the programmes that I am working on currently include Crawford Supported Studio, a programme that advocates for sixteen Cork-based artists living with disabilities. The studio aims to share the quality and range of artwork being produced and to create meaningful encounters beyond healthcare settings. You can read our article onthe Crawford Supported Studio, just published in the Irish Museums Association’s journal Museums Irelandhere. Our weekly Talking Picturesseries is currently designed by a fantastic young Cork illustrator called Annie Forrester. It is an online resource for children and their adults based on artworks from the Crawford Art Gallery collection.
We share creative prompts for happy talking, playing, making and moving every Wednesday. There are also multiple, quieter projects going on in the background, such as our facilitation of online art workshops with children who are living in Direct Provision, delivered with the support of the wonderful Fionnuala O’Connell, a youth worker with the Cork Migrant Project.
Do you remember the first time you visited the gallery? The first time I visited the gallery was as an incredibly awkward teenager. I remember navigating a loose circuit around Cork city, getting off the bus, spending a long time perusing the indie shops. Some of you may remember Riddled with Gorgeousness, DV8 or Red Square, with a possible encounter with friendly Hari Krishnas and scrambled eggs and tea for £2.50 in Bewley’s thrown in for good measure. I remember the feeling of pressing my face up to the glass, wandering and wanting to find a way into art, but not being sure of how to go about it. Now that I have a teenage daughter myself, I appreciate the freedom I had to explore, and I hope that young people will have more room to stretch and make lots of mistakes soon.
Having been that teenage weirdo, I recognise that the whiff of hushed gentility that can come with the gallery or institutional space can be challenging: that feeling that you don’t speak in the right way or have the right learning to get through the doors. As an adult, I can hold the tension between respect for artists and the need to care for our national collection, while opening the door to diverse audiences. Without sounding too worthy, I honestly believe that everyone has the right to access creativity, connection and meaning within the cultural life of their community.
Do you have a favourite artwork, exhibition or gallery space? I really enjoyed working on the engagement programme for the exhibition Naked Truth: The Nude in Irish Art, because I think that we succeeded in creating the ‘gold' in a series of free events with entry points for lots of cultural types, from artists to people who were just plain curious. I also had the opportunity to do some cool things like arrange an alternative gallery tour with Tara Flynn. The exhibition Seen, Not Heard was also an important exhibition, that experimented with play and a certain amount of risk in the gallery by incorporating an interactive Playspace. The engagement programme that accompanied this exhibition involved a lot of areas close to my heart; the gallery as a public, civic and social space. My standout moments are community projects with the Cork Traveller Women’s Network, made up of women who are natural teachers. I can’t forget the indomitable women of the Ballyphehane/ Togher Arts & Crafts Initiative, who are the real deal. They were incredibly patient with me and taught me how to work better with communities. They are an example of the wisdom, creativity and humour that is already there within our local communities. We just need to listen.
What do you think people might be surprised to learn about the gallery? I think that people might be surprised by the amount of heart, risk and drive – the not knowing and getting things wrong – that art workers, artists, curators and all the people behind the curtain at the art gallery, and certainly in the arts in general, have. I have certainly learned to love the gallery: after twelve years of working here, it is as familiar to me now as an old shoe. You can check out our free Learn and Explore programmes and resources here. We welcome feedback and enquiries and will do our best to respond.
Staff Profiles: Michael Waldron
Name: Michael Waldron
Where are you from? Cork
What do you do at Crawford Art Gallery? I am Assistant Curator of Collections & Special Projects. What does that mean, you might ask? Essentially, I work with the team on researching the collection and curating exhibitions out of it. This allows us to reveal new contexts and themes for the more than 3,000 objects in our care and to keep things fresh, interesting, and relevant for our loyal visitors.
It's a gift of a role that has been incredibly varied and exciting over the past couple of years. Initially my focus was on the historic collection of Canova Casts, those plaster gods and mortals that have inspired generations of artists and visitors. That research culminated in the renewal of our Sculpture Galleries with the exhibition Recasting Canova and its associated events and mediation. We even got to 3D-scan the casts and remove their fig leaves (with a little help from Mary Beard)!
Aside from that, I have been very fortunate to collaborate with colleagues and artists on various projects, ranging from The Gibson Bequest 1919-2019 with Dawn Williams to Invisible Light with Anne Boddaert and The School of Looking. Some of the special projects include working with the contemporary vocal ensemble Tonnta for Their Chorus (2020) and Cork Midsummer Festival for Tania El Khoury's As Far As My Fingertips Take Me (2019). It's a source of pride that, as part of my role, I have got to introduce a series of LGBTQ+ tours of the collection to help us speak to and see diversity. More to do! I also work closely with our Marketing team on the social media side of things as well as managing image licensing.
Do you have a favourite artwork, exhibition or gallery space? Working so closely with the collection it's really hard to play favourites. I sometimes find it changes depending on time of year or how long it's been since I saw the work last. And then there are the moments when you fall in love with a work for the very first time - startled as it draws you in. I have a special place in my heart for the drawings of Samuel Forde (the subject of my first exhibition), which are treasures of the Crawford Art Gallery collection, as are the Harry Clarke watercolours. Through my role, I have also come to know the work of so many other artists, including Dragana Jurišić, Dorothy Cross, Katherine Boucher Beug, Brian Maguire, Vivienne Roche, and Stephen Doyle, to name but a very few. If I had to choose just one though it would have to be Hawk and Quarry in Winter, in Memory of Peter Lanyon (1964) by Tony O'Malley. For me, it is part landscape, part animal, part elegy and I am drawn back again and again to it.
Do you remember the first time you visited the gallery? Vividly! It was the autumn of 2001 and my secondary school art teacher, Brigid Daly, brought us to see Picasso: Watercolours and Drawings 1896–1934. The exhibition consisted of loan works from the Musée Picasso in Paris and was displayed in the, then, brand new extension designed by Erick van Egeraat. Even now it would be exciting, but back then it was very cool and actually transformative. It was a perfect marriage of art and site. I was obsessed with Picasso and architecture at the time and returned to the art room of Douglas Community School inspired. I even made a Picasso batik and brought friends and family along for return visits! I know I'm not alone in this, but I still have (and cherish) the poster and catalogue. That exhibition really made me want to do what I do now - a very important art encounter and life moment. Truly! I strive to do that for someone else and pay it forward.
Staff Profiles: Gillian Cussen
Name: Gillian Cussen
Where are you from? Grew up in Cork but I was born and spent a number of years in Canada.
What do you do at Crawford Art Gallery? I work on a sessional basis as an artist facilitator with the Lonradh programme for people experiencing memory loss and their families. Pre the current pandemic, we met on a monthly basis to look at various art works, talk about them and further pondered the artworks or other more interesting topics over a cup of tea. We then engaged in an art-based activity on the artworks we had looked at earlier.
Since early summer, Lonradh at Home has been established to bring art and the Crawford Art Gallery into people’s homes by sharing a video every two weeks.
These can be seen on the gallery’s website under the title ‘Creative Cocooning’. More recently, we have relaunched this kind of offering as ‘Lonradh at Home’ where fellow artist Inge van Doorslaer and I present a video every two weeks.
What do you like the most about working at Crawford Art Gallery? I love being surrounded by art and the silence that can at times pervade the building before the doors open to the public.
Do you have a favourite artwork, exhibition or gallery space? Yes, the sculpture ‘An Straichaire Fir’ by Joseph Higgins (1885-1925). I really admire the sentiment Joseph Higgins was able to create in bronze.
Do you remember the first time you visited the gallery? No, but I have a vague memory as a child going to art classes in the Crawford Art Gallery in the late 1960s and drawing on the floor at the bottom of the staircase.
What do you think people might be surprised to learn about the gallery? This may be too off on a tangent, but the gallery is home to many works by James Barry RA (1741-1806), a Cork-born and educated artist. James Barry’s niece, Margaret Bulkley (1789-1865), took on the persona of a man and the name of her deceased uncle and became known as Dr. James Barry. Dr. Barry became one of the most respected surgeons of the century, performing the first successful Caesarean section by a European doctor in Africa and crossing swords with Florence Nightingale over her hygiene practices amongst other things.
To find out more about Gillian’s work, including her solo exhibition at Blackwater Valley Makers in Fermoy which runs throughout December 2020, visit her blog at: https://gilliancussenart.com/blog/
Stafff Profiles: Jacques Hugo
Name: Jacques Hugo
Where are you from? Cape Town, South Africa
What do you do at Crawford Art Gallery? I am a Marketing & Communications Assistant at the gallery
Briefly describe your typical working day At first, before working from home became the norm, I worked mostly on press releases, design of brochures and our exterior banners, liaising with press and assisting with events. Days are so varied and exciting. We start the week with a Communications meeting which sets the tone for the week. I’ve started creating a lot more rich media for our online resources, including videos and interviews.
What do you like most about working at Crawford Art Gallery? Our team and the visitors. I'm enamoured of the lightning-in-a-bottle synchronicity we share as staff - we are all so passionate about the work we do and we all feel a tremendous responsibility to represent the people’s gallery and nurture it and guide it along for future generations. And I think that happens daily. I absolutely love meeting visitors who may have been students or artists’ models at the old art college once housed in the building. Hopefully we can share more of their stories in the near future.
I have a fine art film & performance background and really wanted to become a performance artist, but moved more into theatre and production. And the gallery opened my eyes in such a generous, beautiful way and made me realise Arts Communications may be the path for me. I’ve always been a champion for people and their work.
Once I spot something special and it gets under my skin it’s hard to let go. It’s very innate and I love nothing more than to wave a flag for someone. I don’t know how to do anything else. Maybe becoming Madonna (the original plan) is a little out of reach now and I’d be such a terrible banker!
Do you have a favourite artwork, exhibition or gallery space? Countless and endless but I will say that Edith Somerville’s “The Goose Girl” and the gentle way in which she handles innocence, the life ahead and the cusp of adulthood is breathtaking.
Last year Daphne Wright’s “A quiet mutiny” touched me deeply. I particularly enjoyed learning more about the genesis of the exhibition - one of the inspirations for the work came from the first page of Virginia Woolf’s “To The Lighthouse.”
A little boy is angry about the possibility of disappointment in life and his mother tries to protect him from it; the concept that a child’s thinking is a single narrative for years and years until teens and then the “emotional meltdown” happens and you suddenly realise life contains multitudes. Terrifying and yet there’s freedom in that realisation. I feel like I was that kid. So, I absolutely love understanding the germ of an idea and the fluidity of inspiration. It can come from anywhere and morph into anything.
Stephen Doyle’s “Dylan is ainm dom” moved into the biggest room of my heart. I wish I had seen a work like that growing up (believed to portray the first transgender person in Irish art.) It’s a tremendous privilege to be part of such an inclusive and forward-thinking institution. And, of course, the Sculpture Galleries and our beloved Canova casts (featuring the best museum bums in town, maybe even the country!)
Do you remember the first time you visited the gallery? It was a very rainy October afternoon. I had just arrived in Cork and stumbled upon this magnificent building. For a while, prior to living in Cork, I spent a couple of years in a very harmless but completely boring suburb and missed being able to walk into a gallery space in the heart of a city. Learning how much the gallery, collections and building mean to the people of Cork and as a National Cultural Institution to the country, moves me so much. It was then I knew I had to be involved somehow. Make tea, anything! I feel very lucky.
Staff Profiles: Devon Bovey
What’s your name? My name is Devon Bovey.
Where are you from? I live in Cobh, County Cork and moved to Ireland from Canada in 1994. I had studied art in Canada at the Alberta College of Art, the University of Calgary and the University of British Columbia.
I had worked at the Irish Museum of Modern Art for five years prior to beginning work at the Crawford Art Gallery.
What do you do at Crawford Art Gallery? Currently my duties at the Crawford Art Gallery are those of a security officer. My daily duties include preparing exhibition spaces for public use, this includes unlocking of spaces, ensuring lighting is appropriate and where required activating audio-visual displays of art works.
You would find me working in the Bookshop from where myself and another security officer are able to monitor the exhibition spaces. I would also be prepared to provide information about the exhibitions and facilitate purchases of the books and other items we sell in the bookstore.
At times you might find myself setting up an exhibition space for special functions. At the end of each day it is my responsibility to ensure the public have left the gallery and when our staff have departed, to close down gallery exhibits, lock numerous doors and finally to alarm and lock the main doors and gates.
Do you have a favourite artwork, exhibition or gallery space? My personal favourite spaces within the gallery are the main stairwell with colours radiating from the stained glass art work above it, this and the library which is hidden away and contains rich wood book cases, old documents and books and a wonderful view of the plaza around the Crawford is very special.
The artwork that I am especially drawn to is by Harry Clarke, The Fall of the House of Usher. This illustration for a work by Poe includes magical characters rendered with amazing delicacy using graphite and water colour. It is a testament to Clarke’s genius.
What do you like the most about working at Crawford Art Gallery? Being a member of the group of people who bring this animated cultural facility to the people of Cork and visitors from around the world is a very special experience with dedicated staff many of whom are artists in their own right and like myself continue to pursue their creative visions while working at the Crawford Art Gallery.
I look forward to sharing my experience of this wonderful building and the art collections it houses.
Staff Profiles: Jean O'Donovan
Name: Jean O’Donovan
Where are you from? Ballincollig, Cork
What do you do at the Crawford Art Gallery? I am the Gallery Registrar. I am responsible for the preservation of the collection, both physically and digitally - this ranges from maintaining an up to date collection register of artworks, managing the storage, movement and installation of artworks and the gallery’s conservation programme and developing the online collection. I also manage the exhibition loans-in and out programme. Each time the Crawford borrows an artwork for an exhibition there are a large number of things to consider - loan contracts and documentation, transport and packing logistics, export licences, conservation, indemnity and insurance and display requirements. The same elements need to be considered when we lend an artwork from the Crawford Collection. There is a lot to co-ordinate but the mobility of collections is vital. Museums have a long tradition of sharing cultural heritage in their custody with other museums and institutions. Lending artworks promotes access, increases knowledge and also supports other museums and galleries but is also carefully considered and managed to safeguard our objects for future generations.
Briefly describe your typical working day? My working day can vary quite dramatically depending on what is happening in the Gallery. My week usually begins with a team meeting with our technical team to discuss upcoming exhibitions and projects and troubleshoot the installation of complex artworks. A normal day will be divided between my desk and the gallery stores. My administration workload is largely to do with updating information on the collection into our collection database, administrating loans, liaising with curatorial colleagues in relation to upcoming exhibitions and answering queries from the public. If we are installing an exhibition I will spend a lot of time in the exhibition space, carrying out condition checks on the artworks, making sure that loan documentation is signed, liaising with couriers travelling with the artworks and working with the curator to ensure that the installation goes smoothly. If lending an artwork, I may have to travel with that artwork to make sure it arrives safely at it’s destination. I suppose what I love most about my job is that there is no typical working day.
What do you like most about working at the Crawford Art Gallery? I love the diversity of the collection. The history of the collection spans three centuries and the evolution of the institution from the Royal Cork Institution, to a School of Design, and later School of Art, to present day Crawford Art Gallery (a designated National Cultural Institution). These changes in purpose and function have lead to a multifarious collection with so many interesting facets! Paintings, drawings and sculptures are housed alongside stained glass, historical artefacts, antique furniture, books, manuscripts and a plethora of archival material. As a Registrar, I am constantly both intrigued and challenged by how to preserve, document and care for these objects which makes my role very rewarding. One of the most unusual objects in the collection would have to be a Loggerhead sea turtle that is possibly over 100 years old! There is a huge thrill in figuring out the history and story behind a previously unidentified object.
Do you remember the first time you visited the gallery? My earliest memory of visiting the gallery was in 2001 for the exhibition ‘Picasso: Watercolours and Drawings 1896-1934’. The exhibition comprised of sixty drawings by the artist Pablo Ruiz Picasso on loan from the Musée Picasso, Paris. It was fantastic to see these works in Cork. There were drawings on display that Picasso had done as a young boy, and one in particular, a tiny sketch of a wizard, stuck with me. I remember being amazed that such a prolific artist had been a child once too. I was also struck by the progression of his work from figurative to abstract. I went straight to Waterstones bookshop to buy a book on his life and work and thus began my cubist phase! It caused a bit of a stir in the art classroom when I wanted to do all of my life drawing assignments in the cubist style. The exhibition sparked an interest in art history which started as a hobby and ultimately developed into a career.
What do you think people might be surprised to learn about the gallery? The building housed a School of Design and Art from the mid 19th century to 1979 and we still retain a large archive of materials from that time. It is a treasure trove of everything from old photographs and examples of student work to handwritten student attendance records and visitor books. There is wonderful photograph from the late 19th century showing female art students practicing the art of lacemaking in one of the 2nd floor rooms. We still have beautiful examples of lacework from different countries in Europe in frames that would have been used as teaching aids at the time. It’s a glimpse into the past!