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Work of the Week | 1 February 2021

CAG.136 Sylvia Cooke-Collis, Festival Scene, c.1960, oil on canvas, 141 x 106 cm. Presented, Friends of the National Collections of Ireland (Sylvia Cooke-Collis Bequest). © the artist’s estate.

To mark Imbolc or St Brigid’s Day, we’re embracing a sense of joy and renewal with this WORK OF THE WEEK!

The first day of February is the traditional beginning of spring in Ireland and finds us halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. Festival Scene (c.1960) by Sylvia Cooke-Collis may not specifically be about this new season, but we think its palette of soft bright colours and upbeat mood suits this time of year.

Inspired by the style of Fauvism, Sylvia Cooke-Collis (1900-1973) composes a scene filled with people – and goats! Many of the figures wear wreaths of foliage on their heads, while in the background some form of ritual appears to play out under the trees. A figure in the foreground offers red flowers to a goat. A tasty treat perhaps?

In 2018, Festival Scene underwent its own renewal and benefitted from much needed conservation. As part of a shared NGI-CAG-IMMA conservation internship, it was transported to the National Gallery of Ireland for treatment by Giulia Campagnari.

136-P - 04 - Surface cleaning

The painting had become distorted over time and its paint layer was beginning to flake. Giulia conducted a full consolidation treatment with specialist solutions and equipment. Festival Scene was then re-stretched, cleaned, filled, and retouched where losses had occurred. Its original frame even got some love before the painting returned to Cork to be cherished once again. Certainly cause to celebrate!

Festival Scene (c.1960) by Sylvia Cooke-Collis is featured in lucid abnormalities, which runs until 28 March.

Tune into The Arts House with Elmarie Mawe on Cork’s 96FM and C103FM every Sunday morning as Conor Tallon chats with assistant curator Michael Waldron about each WORK OF THE WEEK! Listen back to this week's chat here:


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