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WORK OF THE WEEK | 24 June 2019

CAG.140 Richard J. Croft, Asgard, 1968, acrylic on canvas, 122 x 101.6 cm. Purchased, Irish Exhibition of Living Art, 1969 (Gibson Bequest Fund). © the artist. Photo: Jed Niezgoda.

We're hoping for that heatwave with this colourful WORK OF THE WEEK!

As the title and date suggest, Asgard (1968) by Richard J. Croft is not a painting of one of the nine words from Old Norse religion, or even one of the nine realms in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). It refers instead to the 28-tonne yacht Asgard, once owned by Erskine and Molly Childers, which had been built as a wedding gift from her father, Dr Hamilton Osgood. Can you make out the pleasure boat’s rudder?

The yacht was famously used during the summer of 1914 to smuggle 900 single-shot rifles and 29,000 rounds of ammunition into Ireland at Howth. Less than two years later, these weapons were used at Dublin’s GPO during the Easter Rising. In 1968, the Irish government formed the 'Coiste an Asgard' committee and the yacht became a sail training vessel for the young people of Ireland. It is now on display National Museum of ireland (Collins Barracks).

Fun fact: Erskine Childers would fictionalise his earlier sailing adventures in the bestselling novel, The Riddle of the Sands (1903), while his son, Erskine Hamilton Childers (1905-1974), would become the fourth President of Ireland on 25 June 1973.

Richard J. Croft (b.1935) has described his work as 'funambulism or tightrope walking' and he has trodden a line between figurative and abstract painting throughout his career. Born in London, he moved to Belfast in 1959. A decade later he became a member of the Royal Ulster Academy and was its president from 1997 until 2000.

Asgard (1968) by Richard J. Croft is featured in THE GIBSON BEQUEST 1919-2019: Selecting, Collecting & Philanthropy, which runs until 12 January 2020.

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