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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 14, 2011 @ 5:53 pm

    Nothing to see here on a Sunday, move along please

    Laurence Mackin

    For most of us, Sunday is the day when you play a leisurely game of catch-up. A pile of Sunday papers gently demolished over pots of coffee; slow, indulgent breakfasts; or late brunches with friends, filling in the gaps of friendship created by the midweek rota of work and commitments. Books are read, music listened to, films watched.

    The one exception to the rule, though, seems to be art. For example, many galleries in Dublin, away from the larger, established institutions, such as Imma, the National Gallery and the Hugh Lane, close on Sundays, and nearly all operate shorter hours. This can be infuriating and seems illogical. Sunday is the one day that most people will have time to take in an exhibition, many other outlets that compete for people’s attention are closed, and it seems that smaller galleries are missing a trick by closing their doors on one of the two days when people are milling about in the city centre looking for a few hours to kill.

    Sunday past, there were three smaller exhibitions I wanted to see, all of which were closed. It’s understandable that, given budgets and wages, such places cannot be open seven days a week. Many galleries close on a day that perhaps makes more sense (as more people will be office- or work-bound) – typically a Monday or a Tuesday. It would be a nonsense, obviously, for all galleries to be closed on the same day of the week – but to have so many city-centre spaces closed on a Sunday seems illogical.

    Perhaps, though, I’m being a bit demanding and it’s my schedule that needs changing. So, to this end, at the beginning of each week I’ll recommend a small exhibition or show that can be squeezed into a lunchtime or perhaps packed into an hour before getting the bus home after work. The emphasis will be on short, sharp arty shocks that will give a bit of colour to your week. Suggestions are welcome, I’ll obviously include shows from around the country, although I won’t be able to see many of these (being Dublin bound most of the time) and will have to judge them on merit.

    One, two, three, four ….

    First up is the Kerlin Gallery on South Anne Street, Dublin 2, and Volunteer, its exhibition of the photographs of Paul Seawright. It combines two of the artist’s preoccupations, cities and conflict. These are stark, unsettling photographs taking at army recruiting stations throughout the US. The focus is on details: building corners, luminous metal containers, crumbling concrete and desolate stretches of Tarmac. Colour is muted, activity contained; this is definitely one body of work that forces you to make up your own mind. It runs until April 2nd.

    … I love Marine Corps

    One gallery whose doors are open on a Sunday (and which I went to at the weekend) is the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA), and it’s worth mentioning in this context for other reasons. It is making an effort to get more people through its doors with some clever curating. One initiative is its pop-up shops – a number of creative collectives and individuals have been invited to set up their stalls in the gallery’s glassy corner shop for a short time. This gets them exposure and gives them the opportunity to get into the city centre without the punitive rents, and it also gives punters a reason to head to the gallery with a little more frequency. The Irish Design Shop was first off the mark and set the bar high with a cracking selection of creative, affordable pieces. It is slinging its hook on Friday to make way for James Carroll Design and Jenny Walsh’s furniture – two creatives with serious flair. Joseph Walsh isn’t the only one doing strange things with wood today.

    Another recent event was the I Love RHA party. I was out of the country, so I can’t tell you if it was a success, although the idea seems rock solid: DJs, drinks, dancing, an art raffle and the aforementioned pop-up shops in one of the coolest spaces in the city. The only drawback (and again I wasn’t there so can’t venture an opinion on this) seems to be the rather steep €20 ticket charge, though this was an all-in price covering drinks (the event was sponsored by a drinks company). Perhaps cheaper tickets and charging at the bar would be a more appealing option for punters.

    Either way, these are both innovative, creative approaches to make the most of our galleries and could do a lot towards getting people into arty spaces at the weekend. More of this sort of thing, please.

    • sonykopines says:

      The Kerlin Gallery has a nice website with more of Seawright’s ‘Volunteer” exhibit there. Lots of wabi-sabi but not in a good way. The eloquence of empty spaces eh? Of places and things well used and well worn. But like I said, not in a good way. Still. At least all them glum soldiers taking their first step towards being sped up the line to death dismemberment or just plain madness will feel right at home when they arrive in downtown Baghdad or Kabul. Both of which increasingly look like the good ol’ USA. Going on those phots annyway.

    • aaron dowling says:

      Totally agree. For me Sunday is my ideal time to pop in and visit an exhibition. Many of the galleries are closed before 6 during the week and for some reason I always seem too busy on a saturday (although I do blame my procrastinatory nature on this one)

      Sunday is a also great day for tourists, who have popped over the weekend, to catch a glimpse of the cultural side of dublin. I feel we are denying them this by closing up the galleries on sunday.

    • Denise says:

      Hi Laurence,

      I think for most it’s to do with budgets and staffing. There are def more costs to get staff to work on a Sunday. Though I see more and more are relying on voluntary invigilators, the key staff to get an exhibition up and running are where the costs would be, for instance building & security staff.

      In an effort to provide more access to culture ‘after hours’ Temple Bar Cultural Trust (where I work) have just launched First Thursdays Dublin, featuring a growing collective of cultural spaces in Dublin who are committing to a late night of culture on the first thursday of each month. It just started in March and there are more organisations joining for April. Details over here http://templebar.ie/Event/First_Thursdays_Dublin

      It is of course inspired by the First Thursdays in London which is very popular.


      PS There are more organisations to be added to that list in the morning when I get in to work!

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