The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media has been working with the National Cultural Institutions through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to develop meaningful ways to support artists across the country at this challenging time. In October 2020, Minister Catherine Martin committed €1m from her department to Crawford Art Gallery and the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) to fund the purchase of artworks by artists living and/or working in Ireland. The investment enabled the two institutions charged with collecting contemporary art to work collaboratively to support artists by buying artworks to add to the National Collection.
The National Collection
The National Collection is the art collection of the State, which includes Crawford Art Gallery, IMMA, the National Gallery of Ireland, the Arts Council, and the Office of Public Works, for example. This acquisitions fund is therefore a major investment and vote of confidence in contemporary art, living artists, and the National Collection. As the cultural repositories for the country, the role of the National Cultural Institutions is to reflect Ireland and her people and tell the story of our country.
This is the first time in over a decade that substantial funding has been specifically allocated towards building the National Collection to reflect contemporary culture.The body of 422 artworks by 70 artists from across the country has been selected through a rigorous process by both institutions to ensure strategic and thoughtful acquisitions for the nation. Spanning from 1972 to 2021, the 225 works Crawford Art Gallery has acquired consist of paintings, photographic work, prints, drawings, sculpture, installations, moving image, sound work, film, digital work, embroidery and performance.
Below is a list of the 39 artists whose work Crawford Art Gallery has acquired to add to the National Collection. We’ll be profiling each artist on this list on our social media channels and website over the coming weeks and months in our #YourNationalCollection series: stay tuned for updates.
Aideen Barry, Sara Baume, Stephen Brandes, Angela Burchill, Declan Byrne, Elaine Byrne, Tom Climent, Yvonne Condon, Elizabeth Cope, Gary Coyle, Stephen Doyle, Rita Duffy, Amanda Dunsmore, Kevin Gaffney, Debbie Godsell, Michael Hanna, Marie Holohan, Katie Holten, Brianna Hurley, Andrew Kearney, John Keating, Fiona Kelly, Anne Kiely & Mary Palmer, Roseanne Lynch, Brian Maguire, Evgeniya Martirosyan, Danny McCarthy, Rosaleen Moore, Peter Nash, Ailbhe Ní Bhriain, Íde Ní Shúleabháin, Nuala O’Donovan, Sarah O’Flaherty, Tom O’Sullivan, Michael Quane, Jennifer Trouton, Charles Tyrrell, Daphne Wright.
Press release Art Acquisition Fund (Word Doc)
Aideen Barry AHRA is a practising visual artist based in Ireland with international representation. In 2020, she was elected as an Associated Member of the Royal Hibernian Academy. She is also a member of Aosdána and lectures in several universities and schools of visual art.
Originally commissioned by the Arts & Heritage Trust UK, ‘Not to be Known or Named’, the work joining Crawford Art Gallery’s collection, is what Barry calls a ‘performative film and an endurance performance piece’. It is a stop-motion film which shows the artist overwhelmed by the monotony and magnitude of domestic chores in nightmarish scenarios, exploring obsessional behaviour in the context of suburban normality.
‘Having my work acquired by the National Collection at Crawford Art Gallery is a huge moment in my life. Not only is it important for me to have my work in such a prestigious national and international collection but for me personally the Crawford was the first access point for me growing up in a working class community in Cork City. It was the one place I could go freely to access visual culture and that had a profound effect on my personal aspirations, artistic ambitions and development of my lingualism in the visual arts. This is of immense personal importance to me, but also this drive to support artists right now to be included in the collection marks a moment where this turbulent and traumatic time will be viewed as one of the most important civic investments the state has undertaken for visual art and for its citizens. We all benefit from moments like these.’
Watch Barry discuss the background to ‘Not to be Known or Named’, now part of the National Collection at Crawford Art Gallery:
Sara Baume is a West Cork-based artist and writer, who studied fine art at Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design (IADT). Her writing has appeared in publications including the Irish Times, the Guardian, the Stinging Fly, and Granta Magazine. Her first novel Spill Simmer Falter Wither was published to acclaim in 2015. In March 2020, her first non-fiction book, handiwork, appeared.
‘So sick and tired’ is a textwork that was originally created for Midsummer Moments, a socially-distanced reimagining of the Cork Midsummer Festival. Baume was asked to craft a line of text in response to living in lockdown and had been fascinated by the rapid changes to the language of advertising and daily life that attended the outbreak of Covid-19.
Made in close collaboration with the National Sculpture Factory, it was initially displayed on the building’s red-brick exterior in the summer of 2020 and was Baume’s first piece of public art. Its neon tubing illuminated at sunset on the summer solstice in amber, chosen to reference the uncertainty of that colour within the traffic-light colour system familiar to all road-users.
Baume has described Crawford Art Gallery’s acquisition of this work as ‘the closing of a beautiful circle’, since Crawford Art Gallery is the first art gallery she ever visited as a young child on trips to the city with her mother. Watch her speak about this work and her connection to the gallery here:
Born in Wolverhampton, Stephen Brandes has lived and worked in Cork since 1993. He represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale 2005 as part of ‘Ireland at Venice’, and has shown in numerous exhibitions both in Ireland and internationally, including as part of the absurdist culinary performance group The Domestic Godless. He joins the National Collection with two additions to Crawford Art Gallery: “Todnauberg Puppet Set” and “Chat Show”.
In his own words:
“My practice includes collage, painting, monumental drawings, photography and video. I am not constrained by any particular medium. It is all underpinned by a fondness for European traditions of absurdism and satire and an interest in the emotive areas that exist between comedy and tragedy. Inspiration is drawn from art, design and film history as well as modern European history, literature, philosophy and travel.
Both “Todnauberg Puppet Set” and “Chat Show” were made during the first months of lockdown in 2020. Unable to travel, I subscribed to an alternative movie library and watched a film each night as a substitute. Concurrently, I began painting again with no particular aim, other than to make funny, sad and ambiguous objects, built from misappropriated images and moments pulled from these films.
Inclusion in the National Collection is a validation for attempting to make a positive contribution, albeit in a modest way, to the nation’s cultural history. This is one job of an artist.”
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, Íde, pencil & coloured pencil on board, 30 x 30 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.
Row 3 (L-R):
Angela Burchill, Dog, pencil & coloured pencil on board, 30 x 30 cm. Courtesy of the Artist.
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.
Angela Burchill is from Bandon, Co. Cork. A prolific portrait artist, Angela works primarily with pastel pencils on paper and treated wood. In her own words: 'I like to work on portraits of my people in L'Arche because they are all my friends. It makes me happy to draw them because they are the people l live with, work with and share my life with.'
Her portraits are bold and highly-worked, showing an instinctive approach to pattern. They capture details of her friend's personalities with warmth, from Katie’s love of hearts which surround her, to Rosaleen working on a drawing of a dense cityscape.
Angela worked as an artist in residence at Mayfield Arts Centre for almost a decade as part of the Cúig studio programme and has exhibited her work at Crawford Art Gallery, Wandesford Quay Gallery, Cork, Southbank Centre, London, Gallerie Outsider Art, Amsterdam, Belconnel Arts Centre, Canberra, Paul Bardwell Gallery, Columbia, Galway Arts Centre, The Museum of Everything, London, HAI New York, Flat Iron Gallery, New York and Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh.
“I’m so delighted and happy that the gallery will have my work so that everybody can see my art; and the Crawford took my work to New York and when it’s in the gallery I will be famous.”
Angela is a member of Crawford Supported Studio. You can find out more about Crawford Supported Studio artists here.
Watch a video message from Angela here:
Declan Byrne has created a remarkable body of work since joining the Studio at KCAT Arts Centre in Callan, Co. Kilkenny in 2004.
A keen observer, Declan generally uses an object, a photograph or a reproduction of an artwork as inspiration for his work. He transforms the world he sees in a very detailed way, building up a drawing or painting from small sections of colours. Slowly, the ground is mapped out by bringing all the parts together in a completely new composition: in his practice he has clearly found a way of communicating.
In recent years he has also been expanding these processes into sculptural work. For his sculptural works, he carefully cuts pieces of dried acrylic paint found in painting pallets with scissors and glues these small pieces of colour to found objects – and this is the method by which Encrusted Dog, now part of the National Collection at Crawford Art Gallery, was made.
Declan has shown his work widely internationally, including in Luxembourg, Finland, Germany, Australia, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the UK. He has also exhibited in Ireland at the Kilkenny Arts Festival, Dublin City Council Offices, Skibbereen Arts Festival and University College Cork. He has been involved in a number of exchanges, including with Project Ability Gallery, Glasgow, collaborating with artist Alastair MacLennan over the last five years as part of the Engagement Project at KCAT.
You can find out more about Declan’s work at KCAT Arts Centre here.
Elaine Byrne is a Dublin-based artist who works multimodally. Her research-based practice examines overlooked histories, historical texts and artworks as a platform to mobilize history as it relates to current political and social concerns. Employing sculpture, video and photography, Byrne focuses on opening new questions for the viewer to highlight present-day urgencies.
'If we winter this one out' is a photograph with text burnt through the image. I use customized branding irons to burn the text on the photograph so even though the image is an edition of three, each edition is unique as the exact conditions of burning the letters on the paper can never be replicated. With ski resorts partly blamed for the speed of the spread of Covid-19, the photograph was taken just before the exodus off the mountain, while the use of typography creates an extra, layered meaning to the Seamus Heaney quote, [one] which we have become all too familiar with since the outbreak of Covid-19.’
‘I am delighted to be part of the National Collection at Crawford Art Gallery as I exhibited at the gallery in 2016 and really appreciate the Crawford’s mix of historical and contemporary programming.’
Based in Cork City, Tom Climent is a painter. His work over the last twenty-five years or so has varied from paintings of figurative, urban and landscape subjects. Referencing landscape, various types of structures and natural phenomena, Climent’s Eden now joins the National Collection at Crawford Art Gallery.
“The way I work is largely intuitive, painting for me starts a process of discovering unintended connections and relationships, of trying to search for reason and meaning in each work that emerges. The first marks and structures create the environment for a process that requires me to constantly re-evaluate what’s important so I can find out what the painting will be. I feel as if I’m in a relationship with the painting, it guides me as much as I control it.
Eden is very much part of the series of paintings I have been working on over the last ten years or so. I feel it is an important piece within this group of paintings. Over my time as an artist, the work I had done has been structured into groups or series of paintings. This current series is very much geometric in nature and has an overall landscape structure to it.
My work generally tends to be suggestive. I feel it absorbs places I’ve been to, experiences I’ve had and ideas and images I come across. My process of painting embraces both logic and reason and also chance and accident. I allow myself to be guided by each individual piece. The work itself exists on the borderline between abstraction and representation but also between real and spirit worlds. It allows for magic to have a role its creation.”
Yvonne Condon is a dynamic artist from East Cork, who is non-verbal and partially sighted. She creates bold, uncompromising images, working at great speed.
Yvonne’s drawing style is determinedly graphic. She paints with acrylic on inexpensive card, using thick black outlines, mixing colour directly on the surface rather than a palette. Her method of production is singular, fearless and intense; she may produce a painting in a matter of just 10 minutes. Yvonne works from observation, working with sitters or collected imagery from books, magazines and photographs.
Yvonne participates in Crawford Supported Studio and is a long-term member of Glasheen Artists Studio Programme (GASP). Most recently Yvonne had a solo exhibition at Gallery of Atypical, Belfast, and her work was selected for exhibition at Flat Iron Gallery, New York. She has previously exhibited at Millennium Hall and the Irish Examiner Office, Cork, Paul Bardwell Gallery of Contemporary Art, Medellín, Colombia, at the Royal Hibernian Academy 185th and 186th Annual Exhibition, Crawford Art Gallery, Sirius Arts Centre, Cobh, Wandesford Quay Gallery, Copper House Gallery, Dublin.
Yvonne was a recipient of an Arts & Disability Ireland New Work Award in 2019, although progress was delayed by Covid-19 restrictions. She is currently developing public artwork with the support of Cork City Council and Princes Street Traders. Yvonne was recently interviewed by Arts & Disability Ireland as part of a ‘meet the artist’ programme. Read the piece here.
Watch Yvonne at work in the studio:
Video courtesy of Crawford Supported Studio.
Elizabeth Cope has been a painter for fifty years, known for the brilliance of colour that she applies to her canvases. She lives and works in Co. Kilkenny.
“It is the greatest honour for me to be chosen by the Crawford Art Gallery and to be a part of the National Collection.
I have had the impulse to paint since childhood. My inspiration comes from nature and from everyday life. I paint fast, on the hoof, en plein air, and I have a love of colour. But I also paint in the studio, where this work was done.”
About her work ‘Generation Gap’ which is now a part of the National Collection:
“I started this painting when in City and Guilds, London in 2005. The figure in pink reading and writing, absorbed in her own world, is our daughter, Sybil, totally indifferent to the background of lobsters. The skeletons seem to be more aware than she is: they are alive, like us, two spectators, all seeing and totally aware (I had just bought Sybil a new pair of floral boots in Oxford Street).
I finished the painting the following year in my studio at home, adding two cut-out naked figures, actively engaged somewhere between the operating theatre and the bedroom.”
Sandra Gibson was the first critic to take note of Cope’s menopausal paintings when they were exhibited in a group show, in Liverpool in 2008. She writes about it (and many others) in the essay ‘Living in a Gallery’ in Cope’s monograph, Seduced by the smell of paint, which was published in 2017 by Gandon Editions.
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